Race: Sun Mountain 50k

Runner: Anson F

Race Date: 05/18/2019

Location: Sun Mountain/Winthrop WA

Results: 71st OA, 56th GP

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2378414152

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

  1. Such a beautiful location. The Methow is gorgeous and the sunflowers were poppin’!
  2. Lots of single track. Some road but not much. Love the single track. It is trail running after all!
  3. Good aid station cadence. Never more than about 7 miles to the next aid station, which was great.

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

I feel like there were “free miles” in this one as it felt a bit longer than 50k.

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

There were bunnies and dinosaurs on the course, which was weird and a bit unexpected!

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

I feel like my fueling strategy worked well. I also enjoyed being able to have crew at the first three aid stations. While the volunteers were terrific, seeing a familiar face at those stops added a little extra energy to my effort.

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

This year the race started with the climb of Patterson Mountain, which starts less than one mile from the beginning of the race. To avoid what I felt would be a long and slow line up the mountain I tried to stay in the front 20% or so from the start. Ended up being a good spot as the pace up Patterson was more in-line with where I hoped to be for that part of the race. Or at least, where I thought I hoped to be!

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I was a bit “overcooked” heading into this race. I over-trained and did too many races in too short of a period of time leading up to this race so I wasn’t as rested as I would have like to have been. It was a good lesson to learn: identify my “A” race/s for the year and build training around those. I plopped in an event two weeks before Sun Mountain and while I had a good time running that one, it ended up costing me some performance here.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

This course is deceptively hard! There is the initial climb of Patterson Mountain, but there are a few climbs later in the race which, looking back at it, are maybe harder than the first one. During the climb of Patterson, you have energy and ambition because the race just began and you’re fresh and excited to be on the course. As the course evolves there is a lot of up-and-down, which led to a lot of run-hike-run-walk-hike-run-etc for me. I wasn’t mentally ready for this and it cost me as the race progressed.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Very. It’s a gorgeous course with the wildflowers in bloom and snow capped peaks in the distances.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Deceptively, yes! Lots of undulations, more climbing than I realized (I had over 5,200′ on my Garmin). There are some exposed sections which could make for a long day in the heat and sun. Fortunately we had temps in the mid-60’s on this day, which was plenty.

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

Very well run. Easy check-in, well marked course, good aid stations (both with supplied and frequency), and a terrific finish line celebration. Well done!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

There were definitely some speedy people but everyone is friendly and really, you run your race so in the end I don’t think it really matters. I’m not going to step on a podium in my lifetime!

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.

Sells out pretty quickly so you should be on it early. I do not believe they have a wait list. They allow bib transfers but they need to be done a week or two before the event (I think). Seems to be good lodging availability in the Winthrop area this time of year. We had no problem finding a place to stay, or places to eat before and after the event.

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

Aid stations were great. Spaced out well, crew access at the first three. Pretty standard fare, but the watermelon at the last station was maybe the best I’ve EVER had! 🙂

Weather and typical race conditions

Our weather was amazing. Sunny, highs in the mid-60’s, slight breeze as the day evolved. The weekend before at the 50-mile temps were in the mid-80’s. And a couple years ago I heard it was 35 and hailing. So yeah, be prepared for anything.

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

No special gear needed for this weekend.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Three of four aid stations can accommodate crew/spectators/friends, so yes, pretty friendly. And the finish line is great, lots of grass to spread out, enjoy the band, soak in the sun and cheer the finishers while you eat pizza and drink beer.

How’s the Swag?

There isn’t much, which is great. I don’t need another string backpack or “free” t-shirt (because nothing is free!).

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

This was my first Rainshadow event and it was terrific. Well executed, terrific volunteers, great support. Five stars!