Race: Rio Del Lago 100
Runner: Alan R
Race Date: 11/02/2019
Location: Folsom, CA
Results: OA: 42 of 244; AG: 2
Strava Activity Link: https://strava.app.link/WEcGSVJ0B1
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
This race is incredibly well organized and supported, and I have been impressed both times I have run Rio. The SWAG is ‘up there’ with the best, and the finish is really well done.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
Course markings in a couple of places that were minimal and pivotal in missing turns and adding miles. I have no other complaints.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
More deceptive than weird – that one can conservatively run the comparatively short leg of 18 miles of pavement from the race start and your legs still feel trashed by mile 25.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
This was a serious goal race for me six weeks after Tahoe 200 and I was able to execute almost flawlessly to finish way below my ultimate goal time of my first sub-24 hr finish. Everything worked – from my training provided by Team RunRun coach Maxx Antush, to fuel and tempo that allowed me to stay in a zone where I could use more fat as fuel to prolong top performance, to skipping certain aid stations to make up time and bypassing one drop bag altogether, to being able to push through pain of an injury that caused me to walk the last 26 miles of last year’s Rio and finish fast and stronger this year.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
You can skip the first aid station for better time if you carry water, as it will still be cold and dark; if you utilize the aid stations properly you may be able to skip some drop bag stops – study the menu before you start; know the course: you can plan for the first 18 miles of pavement to run the race differently – I used different shoes up front; be present. No, honestly, pay attention. 22 hours – or 29 hours, is a long time to stay focused. I missed two turns because I was in my head.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Remember the turns around the town of Cool to avoid adding miles! Also that I am capable of way more than I thought possible : )
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
After hwy 49 aid there is a hard right that is poorly marked; it may be intentional because the same scenario played out for me last year. Also, don’t cross the highway again when you’re on your way to No Hands Bridge #2, be sure to head hard left. Missing one ribbon on the far left side was all it took to add 5 miles. Well, that and being pig headed and not turning around sooner. Stubborn can be an endurance runner’s blessing and curse.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
The first 18 miles wrap around the bottom of Folsom Lake, before tracing East along the water and up into the Sierra foot hills. You’ll run fire roads and sweet single track along part of the Western States trail, which is some of the most scenic and well maintained trail out there. Fall colors will be green and brown, which are home to native Californian’s.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
The course is as difficult as you want to make it. Running the pavement faster up front – if you’re a regular human, can provide sore legs early in the race and a “what was I thinking” mantra later on. The elevation gain is advertised as 8100′, but every runner I talked to about gain said their watch recorded more than ten. Goat Hill is advertised as a roughly 20% grade climb, but if you’re a climber, it’s short and sweet. If not, be patient and breathe deep for a welcomed change in tempo. If you want to really challenge yourself, you can add miles – and elevation, by being an idiot and missing turns; at least I’m honest about this!
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Spot on in every way. Well supported aid stations, fully stocked, and a great finish line experience can make it all seem easy as you make your way through aid and to the finish. Great menu at the finish.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
With runners coming in at 16+ hours the last two years, I would say there are fast people trying to get after PRs – which can kill your Ultrasignup percentage. This is a Western States qualifier.
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.
Registration is easy, and the race rarely fills up more than a month out from race day. I recommend staying at Lake Natoma Inn, which is close by, clean and quiet, and they offer a race discount – I’ve never been let down there.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
They had everything but chicken noodle soup; drat. Apparently the vegetarians had a fit about no veggie broth last year so this year it was all veggie broth. I instead relied on cheese quesadillas for a good source of fat to fuel my fire – although the veggie broth was a good change once in a while.
Weather and typical race conditions
Two years ago there was light rain for most of the race. Last year and this year were perfect running weather, not too warm during the day, and high 40’s at night.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Lighter fabrics for running. I wore a heavier shirt this year to avoid a second layer and chafed my nipples for the first time ever!
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Super friendly for spectators. Overlook at miles 44 and 74 is a great way to see your runner at their best and maybe their worst.
How’s the Swag?
Great: Shirt, Nike jacket, pint glass, metal tumbler, medal and buckle if you push through to finish – and a couple of gels. They handed out the small reusable cups that are becoming mandatory at bib pick up, so bonus. There may have been something else.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
This is a local favorite and a last minute qualifier if you miss your goal race qualifier due to injury like I did this year, so very convenient. I hadn’t run Rio until last year, and have found I really enjoy it. This is a good first hundred and a good proving ground if you’re fast, and well worth the entry fee.