Race: Cougar Mountain 50k

Runner: Olin Berger

Race Date: 10/28/2018

Location: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, WA

Results: 4:18:22, 1st place and CR

https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=55243#id226078

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1933140715

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

– Seattle Running Club’s home court!
– No rain the entire race, was expecting to deal with soggy misery!
– Running the race means I didn’t have to wheelbarrow out supplies to Aid Station 2!

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

– Piles of slippery fallen leaves. Beautiful and deadly; who knows that dangers lurk beneath their colorful facade? I lost a chunk of knee to their beguiling charms.

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

All the inherent weirdness is normalized in the ultra community.

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

I cut 22 minutes off my PR from four years ago, which felt great. Started out perhaps a bit fast, chasing the 7.5 mile race leaders, but that was the mindset I wanted to be in for this one. I was able to keep up the pace and overcame a decent fall early on. Mostly happy with the consistent movement on the ups and pushing the downs.

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

For as runnable as it is, Cougar can be surprisingly technical. It definitely helps to practice your downhill speed and foot skills for this race. The descents where you think you’ll be able to make up time don’t always yield as much speed as you think. As for the uphills, just keep plugging away.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Pretty much all of the course is runnable, so maintaining effort is key. The big climbing is done at around the 2/3 point of the race, so ensure you have speed left to push the last 10 miles.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It’s a well marked course, but course knowledge in advance always helps calm turn-anxiety. You should be prepared for some rocky and rooty running.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

No grand panoramas, but a pretty park!

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It’s certainly not all groomed trail and fire roads. The course is certainly runnable for the majority of the race, but there are some technical sections that can slow you down, especially the descent from Wilderness Peak.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Well-oiled! SRC and NW Trail runs have been putting on this race for years and it’s just getting better.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

You’re always racing the ghosts of everyone who’s ran there before and your own demons, it’s a pre-Halloween race after all.

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.

Easy. Show up the day-of if you want to. Discounts for Seattle Running Club members, but you don’t need to learn the handshake.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Standard fare, which these days means a pretty full spread.

Weather and typical race conditions

Gray, usually fairly wet, should plan for colder conditions, but varies.

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

Nothing special; shoes should have some grip.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Kinda sorta. The course loops around so there are plenty of ways to find friends if you want to spectate. You’ll just have to stand off to the side of the trail to do so, not a lot of open viewing areas.

How’s the Swag?

Fine. Nothing wild, but you get “brewed especially for the event” beer from Flying Lion Brewery included in the deal, which is a nice plus.

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

A great local race. I might not travel far just to do it, but for those in the area, I would certainly recommend it as a solid pre-winter option.

Olin Berger is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Olin, check out his coaching page.