Cougar Mountain 14.5 Miler – Stephen D

Runner: Stephen
Date: 6/10/17
Location: Cougar Mountain, WA
Results2:28:41, 23rd overall
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
1) It is largely run-able
2) Not very technical trails
3) Many distance options (5k, 8 mi and 14 mi) and Its close to home
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
1) In years past there were more tents at the start/Finish with sponsors and so on. This year the race direction had changed and there was far less of it. There used to be Hoka tents, North Face Tents, Altra tents, Gu tents. This year there was a beer tent and that was it.
2)  I hate the first little grass loop the 8 and 14 milers too, it is always wet (even if the trails are not) so you start out with wet feet many times.
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
There are opportunities for views if they changed little portions of the race, but they don’t so the views are only of nice trails and that’s all.
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
I ran this race as a training run with a tough finish (run fast). I tried a new pre-race meal (Kodiak pancakes) – it worked well. I didn’t feel like I had the energy I normally do, BUT not having stomach issues is always a good day!
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
It’s easy to go out really fast on the cougar races. The first 3/4 of a mile is wide enough to support lots of runners. However after that it is almost all single track, so if you are a late bloomer, try to get out a little faster than normal to avoid the crowd on the single track.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Didn’t really learn anything new on this one. I have run this exact race twice and have run the cougar series twice. I am really familiar with the trails and use them as training runs.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
At about 3 miles in there is a really big descent and you end up climbing right back out of it. That is easily the hardest climb on the course. Not saying there aren’t other climbs, but that one is the longest and steepest.
Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
From a woods perspective – yes – but there are no waterfalls or views to be had unfortunately.
Difficulty – is it a tough course
On a scale from 1 – 10 with 10 being hard, I would give this a 5 to 6. It really is not super technical nor is there so much climbing that you cant run it. So overall it makes for a great day in the woods.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
This is part of a series of races the Seattle Running Club puts on, so they definitely have their stuff together.
Competition – is there a strong field?
The first race of the series is the most competitive. As the series goes on, the competition seems to reduce because other races are being run at the same time.
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.
Day of registration is simple and easy. I have done it two years in a row.
Aid Stations
Pretty normal – nothing special.
Weather and typical race conditions –
It was clear – no rain. Trails were a little muddy but were not bad at all.
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Typical running gear (I like to wear a vest for even 10k’s) but this race can absolutely be run with a single hand held. Trail shoes are recommended only for the grip, but I have run with plenty of folks that run cougar mtn trails in regular street running shoes.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
Not at all. You can really only see the runner at the start and finish unless the friends know cougar mountain. Even then, it is not easy at all.
Awards –
Pretty low key, mugs and shirts and stuff like that.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars for its convenience.

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