Race: Miwok 100K
Name: Jeff K
Location: Stinson Beach, CA
Strava Activity Link:
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- For me, Miwok ranks up there with the best ultras I have ever done. The course itself is simply phenomenal. It has climbing, open spaces with awesome views, forests, coastline sections where are so close you can taste the pacific salty air. The list goes on and on. It is a 100K and a qualifier for Western States, but you do have to work for it.
- The race director, Tia Bodington , is a local to the area. She has RD’d it for many years and really knows how to make the race special. From the route itself to the awesome swag that you get at the end. This year the shirts were from the company Rabbit who makes killer stuff that I actually buy.
- There seems to be a lot of runners who come back to Miwok year after year. It is a friendly bunch.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
The only downside of Miwok is that can be logistically hard for getting to the start line and for your crew to maneuver around. The race starts early at 5AM . Unless you are staying in Stinson Beach, you may have to leave in the middle of the night to get there. On weekends, the are super crowded with people coming to the beaches from nearby San Fran and Oakland. If you have a crew traveling between the aid stations they might find it takes several hours just to go a short distance.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
There are a couple aid stations that you go through twice. Because of the time of day and the approach you hit them, they appear totally different. I was at one going “wow this place looks strangely familiar…”
Also, something about the course seems to change every year, either by re-route or switching directions.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
- It is still dark when the race starts and the first 2 miles are a climb. After about 2 miles when you get to the top, there was a bagpiper on a crest in full kilt attire playing and is silhouetted by the sun just beginning to break. It was simply amazing and really got me into the running groove.
- The first 50K of this race then goes through some really interesting terrain. We passed through a eucalyptus forest. There is also a place early in the course where we passed through a farm called the Zen Garden. (I think it was part of the re-routing and the owners of it must have worked out a deal with Tia). It made me envision the original Woodstock where the owner of the farm proclaimed something like “If 475 young people want to get together and run a 100K through my yard, then God bless you for it”
- The weather stayed in the 60’s mostly and I found that I could keep running (mostly) up until the next to the last aid station at mile 49. Things got difficult at that point and my hip started acting up to where it was really uncomfortable to put any weight on it. Once I made it up the climb back to the ridge, I was luckily that it was flat enough to keep moving through the single-track in the tall grass. But, once I hit the downhill sections for the last 3 miles that was pretty much it for me and It seemed like I got passed by like 15 or more runners who were trying to hit their time goals. That didn’t really matter to me because I had such a great time running it.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
This race has a tight cutoff for a 100K with over 10K of vert. Canyons, which is similar, allows for 18 hours (maybe more) and this one is 15:30. You need to practice sustainability to ensure you can go the distance.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
I had a bout of injuries this year and didn’t get what I thought was a proper training cycle. If you are a trail runner already, it is certainly possible to complete the race, but if you want to really do well and PR, the more training on hills uphill/downhill to get those quads in shape will help you.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
If the course runs in the same direction as this year (2018) then know you will have to deal with the monotonous grass section on very narrow single-track with a slight camber, but a lot of the later miles will be shaded.
If it reverses, the later stages will be out in the open areas and it can get hot and you can get sunburned. No matter which direction it does go, you will always have a 2 mile descent that is pretty steep so think about preserving your quads.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Yes. It has 11,000 total vertical feet. No matter how aesthetically pretty this race is, this makes it tough.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Totally well run
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Yes. There are some really strong runners in this race year after year. It is kind of like Chuckanut
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.
There is a lottery, but there is a very high likelihood you will get in. That could change if its popularity increases.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
This race tries to be zero waste and they do a really good job. That means they don’t have any packaged gels, blocks, etc. They have the standard ultra aid station fare. Otherwise, it is BYOGU. They also don’t have cups so you just use your bottle for a shot of mountain dew.
I think that it is do-able to take a single 20 ounce bottle for the first half of the race. This year I stayed with one bottle and there were a couple times where I drained it completely about a mile out from the next station. If the weather was warmer, I would have definitely picked up a second bottle to carry for the second half.
Weather and typical race conditions
It can vary. This year it was nice. In 2014, it was in the upper 80’s.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
The majority of the trails are non-technical or fire roads and unless they have had rainstorms there isn’t any mud. Therefore you can do the race in about any type of shoe.
How’s the Swag?
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5 out of 5. Go run it!