Olympic Mountains 50 mile Race Report – Nick Keenan

Race: Olympic Mountains 50 mile

Runner: Nick Keenan

Race Date: 09/11/2021

Location: Quilcene, WA

Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=79802#id58330

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5945441344/overview

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

  • Beautiful, challenging course, with a mixture of terrain and lots of climbing
  • Well stocked aid-stations and excellent volunteers
  • Small field (30 runners), but overlaps with 50k runners (57 runners) later on the course and timed well to have new people to run along with

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

Last two miles was on forest roads, no signage, no fan-fare. Finish-line was great, but I had no idea how much longer until the final turn and finish.

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

  • There’s an out-and-back part that almost goes to Mt Townsend’s summit.
  • You repeat a ~nine mile loop that is ~4 miles forest road, at least it’s mostly downhill, otherwise is a bit disappointing given the amount of trails (and the skipped summitting opportunity of Mt Townsend)

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

Loved the small field. Loved the camping at the starting-line. Loved the wooden coaster that is etched wood of the race’s course and logo.

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

  • Only two aid stations the first 20.8 miles. Plan accordingly.
  • Bring poles. The long climbs make their use worthwhile, and you can stow for the long descents.
  • Be aware of the 50k runners out on the course – it was a bit of a surprise for me, but not in a bad way.
  • The Deadfall climb, which you do twice, is tough. Your quads will be tested by the 1.5 mile, 1k ft descent, and then further tested by the 3.5 mile, 800 ft forest road descent.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • The last aid station is five miles from the finish. It’s flat. It’s runnable. You probably ran down from Mt Zion too quickly, but you can do it.
  • Also, bring an extra 8 oz of water for those first two 10-mile spaced aid stations, especially for miles 10-20, as it will take longer than you think.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There are a few longish stretches of forest road. Miles 16.5 to 20.3 is all road and about 1k ft of climbing – a great chance to get some calories in and power hike. You can really make some good time by having legs for the downhill road to Mt Zion (twice).

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Pretty. Great time of year in the eastern Olympics. Trails you probably wouldn’t otherwise run or hike on.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

14k gain and loss. Footing was pretty straight forward. No water crossings.

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

Well organized. Excellent volunteers at aid stations. Well marked.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Small field. A bit confusing when the course merged with the 50k course, as the bib font color was the distinction for 50M and 50k runners.

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.

A bit of a drive on forest roads to the starting line, and no cell coverage there, so have a map or at least the turns saved. Getting out was tough for me, as I was tired and didn’t recall the drive in. Dirt camping at the start was simple but great.

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

Standard stuff, well equipped.

Weather and typical race conditions

Early September in the PNW. Got dumping rain the night before, had a few minutes of light sprinkles during the race, otherwise dry.

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

  • Poles
  • No real traction needs for shoes – I wore my Altra road shoes.
  • The ability to carry 10 miles of water/fluids (for me ~40 oz)

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Road access at a few points.

How’s the Swag?

Beautiful and unique race map etched wood coaster. Amazing 1st place finisher awards as well.

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

Four and a half stars. Highly recommend the 50M and 50K if you want vert, and to experience beautiful Olympic Mt trails not far from Seattle.

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