Chuckanut 50k Race Report – Sam Peckham

Race: Chuckanut 50k

Runner: Sam Peckham

Race Date: 03/19/2022

Location: Bellingham, WA


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3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

This is an iconic and competitive 50k. Being part of such a cool event felt amazing. There were so many big names from the PNW running community out there. It is well run, the crowds were fun and the course is epic!

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

The biggest flub of the weekend was the shuttle bus situation. There wasn’t parking at the start line so we had to park at a local college campus and get shuttled over. Getting to the start line wasn’t too bad- they had multiple shuttles running and we didn’t wait more than 5 minutes before we were loaded and heading to the start line. However, after the race started, my crew had issues getting back to the car. The delays getting back to the car meant they missed me at the first aid station, which is the ONLY aid station the crews are allowed to access. That was extremely frustrating for me and my crew.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

They had lots of goofy signs once we made it on to the single track.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I went out relatively conservatively the first 10k (which is flat and fast) and on the first two climbs (Fragrance Lake Trail and Cleaner road). As a result I had good energy going up Chinscraper (the final and steepest climb) and for the last 10k.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

Like any ultra, be patient the first half! The advice most people gave me was save some for the final 10k.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Ridge Trail is a BEAST. Looking on the elevation profile it looks mostly downhill but it is technical, waaaay more than the rest of the course. I was fortunate enough to preview the middle 18 miles a few weeks before so I was mentally prepared for it but if I hadn’t seen it before, it would’ve been a shock to the system.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Absolutely – if the clouds part. Weather in March in the PNW is very hit or miss. Even in the rain the forest is beautiful though.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Tough course for sure. The first and last 10k are relatively flat on the interurban trail which is a wide gravel path. The 5k+ of elevation gain is spread over the middle 18 miles is really hard. Mentally I broke the race up into four climbs. The first climb is up the Fragrance Lake trail and is, in my opinion, the easiest of the day. It’s relatively simple single track for 2 miles with about 1k of climbing. The second is Cleater road – a wide gravel road climbing 1200ft in just under 3 miles. The descent after Cleater road is the Ridge trail which is really technical and not one you can just coast down. Next up is the Lost Lake Trail which is about 3 miles of very gradual/ rolling climbs with a net gain of about 800ft. Finally is Chinscraper which is a really steep covering 800ft in less than a mile. The top of Chinscraper is the high point in the course and then you descend down cleater road to the Fragrance Lake trail and then to the interurban trail for the last 10k.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

One of the most competitive 50ks in the PNW.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

I had a Stryd powermeter on my shoe that I lost on the Ridge trail. I would recommend not brining a footpad or tape it to your shoe. I was very sad to see that fall off my shoe.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Not particularly. Spectators aren’t really able to get to any of the aid stations other than the first and last one.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

9/10 would recommend