Race: Coahuila 100k – http://www.ultracoahuila.com/
Runner: Matt U
Location: Near Saltillo, Mexico
Results – 5th overall, 11:23.06
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
- The vibe. People were excited for this race. It is one of two races in all of Mexico that earns runners points for UTMB and everyone there knew it. They were happy and it felt like a special event.
- The experience. Being on course as one of the few foreigners felt like a special thing to me. People seemed excited that I was there and were quick to cheer for me. Even runners on the course seemed excited to see me. Twice I had people shake hands as I passed them.
- Felicidades. Lots of people sharing congratulations after the race was over. People at this race were just genuinely happy to be there and to be part of the experience.
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
- The course was really exposed and more sunny than I would have expected. Good amount of flat pavement, which normally I like, wore me down quite a bit. Late in the race the course was pretty rough and not fun. Really steep and rocky. It felt like we were just going up and down to add vert and get the extra kilometers in. Lastly, there is a canyon section we had to do twice and it wasn’t well marked. It was the only time during the day that the course wasn’t well marked and fearing that I’d gone off track, I turned around. I lost a good amount of time this way and ended up doing the canyon three times instead of two! I heard that they mentioned this at the briefing, but after listening for a few minutes and not understanding much, I didn’t stay for the entire thing, so maybe it’s my fault?!
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
- Pueblo dogs! I’ve never had to pick up rocks for dogs on course before and I was running with a rock multiple times during this race. The course runs through small homestead areas on dirt roads. It often looks quite impoverished and one common feature in these smaller areas in Mexico are roaming dogs. They don’t necessarily belong to anyone and they will bark and get aggressive. However, just the act of picking up a rock usually gets them to run away. I probably was a bit more stressed than needed because of this and was thinking more about dogs for a big chunk of the race, rather than my run.
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
- I didn’t blow up! I paced it well and spread my effort out over the day. I kept my heart rate below 140 almost the entire run. This was good because all the sun and the tough final 30k would have destroyed me if I’d gone out too hard.
- I also ran the big downhill really well. We climbed to 10,800’ in the early stage of the race and then came all the way down to below 7,000’. The course was steep and often rocky on the way down. I passed people early and that only stoked my confidence. I flew down the hill and likely passed 10+ people during this stretch. It was fun, though my quads were a little more tired than needed after it. All these downhill workouts are paying off!
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- Wear sunscreen! I got fried. My skin has peeled off in sheets since the race and I was seriously burnt after this run. Minimal shade throughout the day. Also, if you like gels, best to bring your own. Fruit, potatoes, and electrolyte drink were the main things I could rely on from the aid stations.
Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
- Yes and no. I loved the first part of the race. The initial climb and descent were great with trees and forest. The middle 50k were kind of crappy. Lots of paved and dirt roads. The dirt road sections were nice once we got back into the mountains but the lower elevation stuff in the towns was not so great. The final 30k had some pretty aspects to it but it was also tough. I don’t think there is much single track trail in Mexico and the little sections where we had “trail” was not really trail as I’m used to. It was more just ribbons in the trees marking a rough path through the woods. Pretty in some ways, but also something we were cursing at that stage in the race.
Difficulty – is it a tough course
- Yes and no. The sun and rough final 30k made it tough. The total elevation change wasn’t too much and the flats make it easier. I was tired at the end!
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
- I was pleased. My expectations weren’t all that high and my expectations were exceeded.
Competition – is there a strong field?
- I would like to say yes, but I didn’t kill this race and I still finished 5th.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
- Lodging can be a challenge. If you don’t get a place in the resort where the race happens, hotel rooms are nearly an hour away in the city of Saltillo. We managed to get a place last minute but we paid for it. The story of this weekend and how it all came together was worth a separate blog post: How an Ultra Happens on a Whim
- Often far apart, 10-12k, sometimes more frequent. Water, electrolyte drink, fruit, potatoes. There were some sandwiches and something that looked like an empanada at some of the stations. I didn’t try these. Bathroom access on course was limited. Thankfully one of the aid station workers talked to a local tienda owner and they let me poop in their bathroom – no paper available of course!
Weather and typical race conditions –
- It was warm, 70s or 80s and sunny. The temps may not have been high but with the direct sun and no clouds, it felt really hot.
- There was a required gear list but nothing out of the ordinary. Headlamp required because we started in the dark.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
- Maybe. There were places you could drive to along the course. Most was on dirt roads so if you have local knowledge or a sense of adventure, you could probably get around to various points on the course. Locals were all quick to give me a cheer as I shuffled by.
- There was money for the top 3 and big plaques for age group winners.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
- 4 out of 5. Worth it for the experience. The people were awesome and I’m glad we went for it.