Needles 50k Race Report – Matt U

Race: Needles 50k

Runner: Matt U

Date: 7/22/17

Location: Easton, WA

Results6:19, 1st place and CR

Needles 50k
Just before the start of the race

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most

  • I ran well. It’s easy to like a race when you manage the day well, you finish strong, and you place well. 🙂
  • The camping the night before was great (and would have been fun on Saturday as well). This was a great chance for catching up with old friends and finally connecting with people in the community that I’ve only known online so far.
  • I love that I got a Cascade Crest 100 preview with the final 16 miles. With Cascade being my target race, not only was this good course scouting, but it was also a big confidence booster b/c I was able to run the latter parts of the course strongly.

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

  • This is more about my weaknesses and nothing bad about the race. The first climb is steep and was one that I needed to hike. I suck at steep hiking. However, I kept my cool, got it done, and then enjoyed the rest of the course which played much more to my strengths. There were also some steep descents early on that had me holding onto tree branches and hoping hard that I wouldn’t be bouncing down the mountain.

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race

  • Nothing really weird going on, but unique to this race was Rich’s wild inflatable tube man with the crazy arms at the finish line. 🙂 And Adam’s food at the end – yes!

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

  • I crushed the second half (for me anyway). Once we hit the downhill fire road to the first aid station I was running. And I was able to keep running nearly the entirety of the course from then on. Big confidence boost for my uphill running as I was able to find a low grinder gear on nearly all the hills including the Needles later in the race – super cool feeling to be running so much of the course.

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

  • Chill out early. That first climb is steep and long. It’s a long race with slow times so don’t shoot your wad on that first up. And along those lines, don’t fall on your face or fret about being cautious on some of those steep early climbs.
  • There are creeks and a lake you can cool off in after the first aid station. It was warm and sunny and these quick cool down submersions were a big help in keeping my core cooler.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • I might need a little more water. I did two 0.5L soft flask for this course and I was thirsty getting into each aid station. I was fine overall, but it would have been nice to have a tad more. Apparently there is a spigot up on Thorpe Mt as well. I probably wouldn’t have spent the time b/c I was trying to keep moving, but looking back, that sure would have been a nice spot for a drink!

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  • There are lots of runnable portions – just not in the beginning, so be patient. If you’re looking to race this one, know your strengths, use them when the course permits, and otherwise, don’t waste energy. In short, there are spots on this course to waste energy – avoid doing this if you want to race this course well.
Needles 50k
Pre-race briefing about collecting hole punches on the runners’ maps.

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

  • Fantastic! There were big views of lakes and mountains all over the place. I passed an early start guy from Florida midway through the race and I asked him how this compared to running back in Florida – “This freaking crushes Florida!!”

Difficulty – is it a tough course

  • Yeah. As always, depends on what you think is tough, but total climb is big, that first steep climb is legit, and those spiky Needles are not there to make things any easier.

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

  • Rich and Adam know their stuff. It’s a low key run but it all went smoothly and was fun to be part of. I felt like I was part of some special Pacific NW ultra club just being there!

Competition – is there a strong field?

  • Not yet.

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.

  • Fills up early and has a waitlist. So if you want in, be on it and sign up early. Camping at the start is awesome – I highly recommend it. There are also some places nearby with cabins for rent and probably more lodging not far away in Cle Elum.

Aid Stations

  • Far apart and never soon enough! This was not a surprise though and it was made clear to us that anything available was to be seen as a nice bonus. This was true to expectations. The folks were all nice and helpful and I got what I needed – cold water!

Weather and typical race conditions –

  • Summer in the Pacific NW is awesome. Unless it’s an abnormal day, you’re in for a treat!

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

  • Salomon 5L vest with 1L soft flask water capacity. Salomon Exo short tights with some bloks and gels in the pockets. I’m not a guy that runs with poles, but there were people using them out there, and knowing the course, this isn’t unreasonable.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends

  • I don’t think there were any spectators and maybe there was a way to get out there to cheer, but if so, it wasn’t easy. Julie and Paavo were hanging out at the Start/Finish, from start to finish!

Awards –

  • The Newman’s Limeade at the finish was awesome, and b/c I was first, I got as much as I wanted!

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

  • Love it! 5/5. Small local race that delivered.

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