Race: Needles 50k
Runner: Dan L
Location: Easton, WA
Results – 9:46 (seconds? we don’t need no stinking seconds)
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
– Camping before and after was wonderful
– Small and super friendly race
– Ability to explore new area with great views (Mt Stuart among others)
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
The name “Needles 50K” is just too close to “Needless 50K”… something I reflected on a few times during the first 10 miles.
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
I’m pretty sure I was DFL for about the first 10 miles. Due to course difficulty and desire to have everyone done by ~6pm, almost half the field took the early start option. Then I started about a minute late relative to the field because I was fixing my shoe. Took 10 miles to reestablish contact with anyone : )
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
I got knocked down, but I got up again. They’re never gonna keep me down. I got knocked down, but I got up again. They’re never gonna keep me down.
Mostly, I channeled my inner Chumbawumba to get through this race.
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
– The first 10 miles is definitely the hardest.
– There is a hard left turn around mile 18 that I missed. The course markings were obvious if my head had been up and the course markers had tried to place barriers in the trail. With fewer participants, it’s harder to just follow the crowd. Stay aware and the course markings aren’t hard to follow. The section between Little Joe Lake and Thorp Mountain is a little more tricky than the rest and probably warrants special attention (just because the trails themselves at places are harder to follow).
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
The climbing does eventually stop! I think having seen the course will help me chunk it up into sections and progress my way through the one I’m in. I do much better when I can count down to specific accomplishments, and I will be much better able to do so in the future on this race.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Distance to both aid station #1 and aid station #2 is about 12 miles each. There is no water prior to aid station #1, and it can get quite warm (at least it did in 2017) before aid station #2. If you sweat a lot like me, 3L of water is not a ridiculous amount to have at start and after aid #1.
Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
Difficulty – is it a tough course
Yes. 10.5K of gain understates how difficult the course is. Descents are also kind of gnarly in spots. There are a few cruiser miles, but not many.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Definitely well-organized. There’s only about 70 people, so lots of things are informal and ad hoc, but Rich White and Adam Hewey and their volunteers do a great job hosting a fun event.
Competition – is there a strong field?
I don’t know? Is Matt Urbanski strong?
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.
Super convenient! Camp at the start finish. Can wake up an hour before race start and still have plenty of time to get ready.
Two aid stations, with super enthusiastic volunteers, who then become sweepers.
Weather and typical race conditions –
Mid-70s by afternoon.
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Poles might have been useful. I didn’t use them, and I’m not normally a fan, but this was a climby course.
Everyone should wear a space cat taco pizza tank top at some point during the weekend. It makes you an immediate super star.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
Are your family and friends capable of running an ultra themselves? Great!! Then if they choose to do about 7,000 feet of climbing and 20 miles, they might manage to see you for about 15 seconds.
Only slightly exaggerating. Did not see a single spectator.
I don’t know? Did Matt win anything?
Everyone gets a headband that is a nature-y green with big deer print on it which either Rich or Adam spray painted “Needles 50K” onto. It’s super sweet, Rambo-type swag.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
***** That’s 5 stars folks.