Race: Sawmill 55k

Runner: Kristen F

Race Date: 12/08/2018

Location: White Ranch Open Space & Mountain Park, Colorado

Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=53192

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2007237538

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

  1. Aid station setup. There were only three aid stations with calories, with two 11.5 mile stretches (according to my watch) with no aid. I thought this presented a great training opportunity. I did hear some folks complaining about the distance between, but I mean, we knew what we were signing up for, right? 🙂
  2. The hills! This was a pretty hilly course, with one truly tough descent and climb coming out of the start/finish aid for the second loop. Also, you get the toughest climb out of the way around miles 19-22, and it’s actually pretty runnable from there to the finish (but let’s be clear: I personally did not run a ton ha!)
  3. Only about a mile of repeated “scenery” in the whole course, despite being a two-loop course: Because the second loop is run in the opposite direction, I didn’t necessarily feel like I was repeating trails.

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

The pre-race meeting was a bit weird. We were instructed to find someone we didn’t know, and just look them in the eyes – not talk – while the RD gave a sappy speech.

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

Pacing and maintaining a positive attitude. Also, watching my husband throw up a bunch of jelly beans after taunting me for eleven miles that he was going to eat all the aid station jelly beans before I got there. KARMA!

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

Certain sections of those trails are icy this time of year, as they get lots of traffic but no sun, so be ready for some slowdowns.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

It’s decent, but not stellar by Colorado standards.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

I actually don’t think it’s a particularly tough course for a 55k with an advertised 8,500 ft of elevation gain. Of course, I was running slow, which always makes a difference, but with that really tough climb out of the way so early in the race and mostly descent in the last several miles, it’s not a course that felt mentally challenging.

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

Well-organized, and the RD is clear that he’s always for feedback to improve.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

No. The front-runners were stout, but the field was not deep. However, this is only the second year they’ve run the event as an actual race, and not just a local fat-ass.

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

Cheese quesadillas were the highlight for me! Oh, and lots of jelly beans. The good kind 🙂

Weather and typical race conditions

We had a blue-bird, almost hot day, but early December in Colorado could bring just about anything on race day.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Nope – no parking at the race start/finish. I would say this is actually a poor race to choose if you’re hoping for support or a cheer squad.

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

If you’re looking for a good training run in the off-season, I give this race a 10 out of 10 for climbing, time on feet, and aid stations. If you’re looking to run a fast 55k, I wouldn’t recommend it, as there will always be some icy sections, and conditions can be very variable that time of year. Also, if those trails get snow and then melt into a muddy mess by race day, the race will have to be cancelled, so I don’t think it’s good to rely on the event happening as scheduled!