How To Tame the Devil

Set yourself up for success at the Devil’s Gulch 100-Miler with these tips.

I think most of us can agree that there really isn’t such a thing as an “easy” ultramarathon. Certainly some races and routes are relatively easier than others, but, for the most part, ultras are hard! Well, the Devil’s Gulch 100-Miler turns up the heat even more! In preparation for this sizzling hot ultra, learn how to tame the devil and everything else this race throws at you with these tips.

Runners following these tips can maximize their odds of a successful race at the Devil's Gulch 100-Miler.

5 “D.E.V.I.L” Training and Racing Tips:

D – Drink! 

A lot! When it comes to hydration, getting enough of both fluid and sodium intake is potentially the most crucial aspect of success come race day. Figure out an appropriate amount of both to consume on an hourly basis: given the heat and the higher exertion rates, to tame this devil expect to be on the higher end of your usual recommended ranges. Andrew Baker also goes into more detail here in his Hydration Strategy Guide, so check that out too! Finally, do what you can to stay cool! The easiest and most effective strategy you can employ on race day is known as topical cooling. Keep yourself wet as temperatures rise by utilizing those clever iced bandanas, crushing ice into arm sleeves or hydration packs, as well as using any creek crossings to your advantage!

E – Experiment 

Trial a wide array of food and fueling options into your training. When it comes to these very long endurance events, it’s hard to predict what you will and won’t be craving at mile 84: sticking to only sweet options or just one single gel flavor of a gel can leave you wanting a lot more. Before and during your runs, experiment with salty, savory, and sweet options, in addition to more solids of different textures and flavors. Give high-carb drink mixes a try: when food can’t stay down, often fluids can! Start trying to consume ~60-90g of carbohydrate per hour, adjusting from there based on your personal needs!

V – Verbalize 

If you’re deciding to have crew support, clearly communicate your expectations ahead of time before the race. Nail down the nitty gritty details of which food and drink items that you’d like to be restocked with and when. Create a list of any items you want laid out at aid stations ahead of time: a camp chair, new shoes/socks, sunblock, headlamp, iced bandanas, arm sleeves, etcetera. 

The same communication of expectations applies to your pacer as well! It goes without saying that a good partnership ahead of race day is a must: ensure you’ve talked through how you think you’ll best respond to executing on race day, as well as when you’re in a state of high mental or physical fatigue. Do you want them to be chatty, tell jokes, and just keep the mood light? Do you prefer very minimal talking and to stay calm and focused on the task at hand?

Adapting your training to the specific demands of the Devil's Gulch 100-Miler course will prepare you best for race day.

I – Incorporate 

Adapt your training to the specific demands of the course. Look over the elevation profile, and make note of how the longer uphills and downhills unfold. For the Devil’s Gulch, this could mean averaging the race’s 240’ vertical gain per mile over the course of a long run. Try incorporating longer downhills, followed by a sustained climb to get a good neuromuscular match for what you’ll see on race day!

L – Lean 

Lean into the discomfort. Embrace it. This will be a key mindset in helping manage the inevitable challenges you will experience throughout the race. And remember to smile and celebrate, regardless of the end result! 

This runner verbalized ahead of time that they wanted to pick up poles at the aid station, and is leaning into the discomfort of a steep uphill.

Tame the devil with these tips, and save your day from boiling over in the Devil’s Gulch! Catch me volunteering at the Devil’s Spur aid station this year, and I’m wishing every runner who takes on this challenge success!

See you on the trails!

Keith Laverty is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Prepare for the Orca Half Marathon

Here is a cheat sheet on how to prepare for the Orca Half Marathon held every September by Orca Running. This is their flagship race. It’s flat and fast. It provides great views. And it is so popular that they now run the race on both Saturday and Sunday to accommodate everyone wanting to do this event. This guide provides an in-depth look at how to train, and how to pace yourself so that you can be your best on race day, be that setting a new PR or simply crossing the finish line. 

Preparing for the half marathon

Time to train: A half marathon training plan is a bit dependent on your current level of fitness and running experience. Most plans will run 12 to 16 weeks and have you running anywhere from four to six days per week. One benefit of having a coach versus just following a plan is that you can adapt and adjust your training based on your schedule and needs versus following a rigid plan. But regardless of if you have a coach or not, you need to recognize that preparing to be your best on race day requires time, and consistently showing up to prepare! 

Here are the key pieces to the training puzzle, and while each runner likely requires a different recipe for training, these are the key ingredients in nearly every successful half marathon training plan. 

Easy Efforts: Though half the distance of a marathon, the half marathon is still a long-distance event. The foundation for running long distances is building aerobic endurance. “Easy” or “conversational pace” runs are the bread and butter of building endurance. If you’re following heart rate zones, we’re talking about z1 and z2 here. There are a variety of ways to assess how much training volume one can sustain and benefit from during any season – the key is to avoid overdoing it so that you can reduce injury risk. Conversation pace running is 70-80% of your overall running volume. A coach can help find the ideal total training load for you, and balance the easy efforts with the more challenging training sessions. 

Half-Marathon-Paced Long Runs: Whether you’ve raced several half marathons or you’re running your first one, a critical component of your training is running at the pace you plan to run in the race. There are numerous methods to determine your race pace, but most all deal with the concept of zones. Some of the most common zones are aerobic recovery, aerobic training, lactate threshold, critical zone or “race pace”, V02 Max, and anaerobic. Each individual will have unique needs and limits, but generally for the half marathon distance your race pace zone usually sits at an effort above aerobic and below lactate threshold. Determining race pace is dependent on current fitness levels and your experience with running. Race pace workouts usually comprise 1-2 days per week or 10-15% of weekly volume. They can be standalone workouts or folded into your weekly long run. Typically, in the first part of your training you will run 5-10 seconds slower than your goal race pace, working your way up to sustained race pace runs, and some workouts 5-10 seconds faster than goal race pace as you approach tapering. This specificity of repeated bouts of training will help your body adapt to the stresses of running faster and longer.

Tempo Runs: Running at a pace positioned above half-marathon pace combined with bouts of running at easier paces will prepare your body for the stress of race day, and boost your overall aerobic capacity for longer, sustained efforts. Tempo runs (aka threshold, steady-state, fast pace) are done at a swift, sustained pace, generally for 20-30 minutes and sometimes as long as an hour or more. Your coach can help you determine a “comfortably hard” pace for these types of workouts. Novices sometimes find this difficult, but tempo runs are the bread and butter for experienced runners. Tempo runs train the cardiorespiratory system and muscular systems to efficiently absorb, deliver, and utilize oxygen. They improve endurance, promote more efficient running form, and teach runners how to deal with low-grade physical discomfort. Distances, paces, and times will vary depending on the runner’s goals, but most tempo runs start at a comfortable pace with increasingly faster running to stimulate the race effort. Individual needs and limits apply, but a common approach is to have one day per week or 10-15% of your weekly volume devoted to a harder, faster than goal pace effort. 

Race strategies for the half marathon

Yes, the course is shorter than a full marathon, but that doesn’t mean you want to hammer the pace from start to finish. A common mistake in races of all distances is going out too fast too early, and the half marathon is no exception. You may feel great for the first part of the race, but you will pay the price for it later if you’re running beyond your current fitness. To help you reach your potential on race day and avoid the common mistake of pushing too hard too soon, I’ve provided this framework for you. I like to think of the race as a few different phases of racing, each with their own strategy.

Race start: From the start line to about four miles in it makes sense to run a bit slower (about 5-15 seconds/mile slower) than your goal half marathon pace. You are feeling your way into the race and tamping down some adrenaline at the same time so this phase will be slightly more mentally taxing than later phases. You will be tempted to run faster. Don’t.

Race middle: From miles five through 10 you will start to settle into your goal race pace. Gradually start running faster until you hit your goal pace. Earlier in this phase running at your race pace will feel comfortably challenging, but be prepared for it to take progressively more effort as the miles click by. Appreciate the flow and wait to start pushing the pace.

Race end: From miles 11 to the finish line. You went out slower and gradually worked up to your goal race pace for a reason. Now is the time to push the pace (about 5-10 seconds/mile faster) and see what you have left in the tank. Use that conserved energy you banked earlier to lean into any challenges you might feel. With one mile to go now is the time to throw the hammer down and give it all you’ve got left.

Racing this method is what’s commonly known as a negative split, meaning you run the second half of the race faster than the first. It takes practice and discipline to nail this strategy, but it’s a common approach in part because the proof is in the pudding. Races are inherently unpredictable, but if you can focus on what you can control – pace, effort, nutrition, gear, and your training – you might just find your reward is a PR.

While half the distance of a full marathon, preparing for a half marathon still requires dedication, consistency, and a well-structured training plan. By focusing on building aerobic endurance through easy efforts, practicing at half-marathon pace during long runs, and incorporating tempo runs to boost aerobic capacity, runners can set themselves up for success on race day. Additionally, understanding race strategies like pacing yourself throughout different phases of the race can make a significant difference in achieving your goals. Remember, training for a half marathon is not just about physical preparation but also mental discipline and strategic execution. By following a tailored training plan, staying committed to your goals, and executing smart race strategies, you can maximize your performance and potentially achieve a new personal record. So lace up those shoes, hit the pavement with purpose, and enjoy the journey towards conquering your next half marathon challenge! And if you’re in the Seattle area, I hope to see you at the Orca Half Marathon in September! 

Jon Phillips is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Fragrance Lake 10k Race Report

In this Fragrance Lake 10k Race Report Coach Paul Sage shares his insights and tips on how to race this awesome course so that you can be your best on race day! Enjoy!

Race: Fragrance Lake 10K

Runner: Coach Paul Sage

Race Date: 06/09/2018

Location: Bellingham Washington

Results: 2nd overall

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1628196943

Video Race Report on YouTube

On the trail at the Fragrance Lake 10k with Paul Sage. In this Fragrance Lake 10k Race Report get tips on how to rock this course!

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

  1. Very convenient – close to Fairhaven/Bellingham with multiple parking options
  2. Well maintained – the trail system in the Chuckanuts is popular with the local running community and is well maintained which contributes to the trails being in the best possible condition throughout the year.
  3. Aggressive hilly course that is still very runnable and finishes with a fast downhill charge to the finish

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

There is not much to complain about in the Chuckanuts!

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

The single element that may seem ‘weird’ to some are the gates/barriers at the top and bottom of the Fragrance Lake trail. These are designed to control horse traffic and consist of two overlapping fences that runners have to ‘zig-zag’ through. These are not a big deal at all but do act as a pinch point on the trail and require the runner to come to an almost complete stop to negotiate.

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

The race was a success and the result was just what I was looking for. For me this race was a training race that I was using as a hard stimulus. I came into the race in the middle of building my fitness back up after a podium finish in the Chanoko 50K a couple months earlier. The weekend prior to this race I had also finished on the podium of the Vashon 10 mile race. My goals for the race were to push the ‘flatter’ first 1.5 miles and the two steeper sections of the Two Dollar trail, relax through the rolling middle section of the Two Dollar trail and the couple ‘techy’ switchbacks of the Fragrance Lake trail, and let it rip through the easier downhill. Essentially interval training with competition.

My plan worked out (almost) perfectly. Attacking from the gun and staying in the lead through the first half mile strung the field out and forced the competition to play catch-up before the climbing started on Cleator road and Two Dollar trail. This kept me out of traffic as the trail transitioned from the wide Interurban trail and Cleator Rd and the single track trail that comprises the rest of the course. Knowing I was going to relax my pace on the flatter parts of the Two Dollar trail allowed me to confidently push the steeper sections of the trail without worrying about blowing up. This approach resulted in a large gap to the other 10K competitors behind me and kept me within site of the leader heading into the decent down Fragrance Lake trail. Even with the leader within sight I stuck to the plan and relaxed my pace through the few tricky switchbacks down Fragrance Lake trail and then gleefully hammered the remaining downhill to the finish line. I was super happy with my 2nd place finish and felt very confident I had the fitness to run much harder.

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

Taking advantage of the wider portions of the course in the first 1.5 miles is key for maintaining position and staying out of traffic. Having the fitness to go out hard and being aggressive through the initial steep section of Two Dollar trail is essential. To do this effectively there are two spots in the first 1.5 miles where position in the pack is important. The first occurs after the first 100 meters where the course chokes down from a gravel road to a narrow single track for ~50 meters before it joins with the Interurban trail – though this is short it acts as a significant choke point. The second is the ‘dip’ before the Interurban trail joins with Cleator Rd. This ‘dip’, a short steep decent and ascent, marks the true beginning of the climbing on the course. Pushing through this dip right to the intersection of Cleator Rd and Two Dollar trail, which marks the beginning of the single track, will ensure the best possible positioning as the course narrows and the pace slows dramatically.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I am consistently pessimistic about my ability to aggressively run moderately technical downhill and races like this help change that narrative in my mind. The pressure of competition and the laser focus that adrenaline can provide is far more powerful than I give it credit.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There are several aspects of the 10K course that could be key to developing a race strategy. Beyond the 2 points mentioned earlier regarding the pinch point very early in the race and the ‘dip’ leading into the transition from gravel road to single track trail, there are 2 additional spots to consider. First is the rolling nature of the middle of the Two Dollar trail. Though the trail continues to trend upward the gradient is considerably less steep and rolls in a few spots. This is a great place to either push the pace if you’re really fit or back off and recover for the final steeper push up past Fragrance Lake. Finally, the decent down the Fragrance Lake trail involves some steep(er) switchbacks that are at times both rocky and rooty and if wet/muddy can be a little gnarly. The risks may out-weight the rewards for some runners to be too aggressive here when this particular section is sketchy due to trail conditions.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Overall I feel the Chuckanuts are a bit of a hidden gem and the trails epitomize the aesthetic of sea-level PNW forest beauty – dense evergreens and deciduous trees, dripping with moss, covering hillsides scattered with exposed boulders and rocky outcroppings. Fragrance Lake itself is an added bonus but is best enjoyed during a casual day hike.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Given the distance and the vertical gain (~1300′) and loss (~1400′) I feel most runners would consider this a tough(er) course. The majority of the climbing is over a 3 mile stretch from mile 1.5 to approximately mile 4.5 during which runners gain slightly more than 1000 feet. The last 2 miles is a screaming 1400 foot descent to the finish line – not long enough for your quads to blow up but steep enough to feel it the next day.

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

As is typical with Destination Trails’ races, the race was well organized and well run. Even the sole section of the course that I felt could be problematic (crossing SR 11 in the last half mile of the race) was well marshalled, safe, and seamless.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Typically there are a handful of killers that show up to race the 10K and the Half.

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.

Logistically the race is very simple. The race is well attended but usually has spots open for race-day registration. Navigation to the start/finish line is straight forward and parking is plentiful (there are multiple places to park besides those available at the start/finish line; some of these ‘extra’ parking spots do require a Discover Pass). For those travelling long distances, Bellingham is very close and has a ton of hotel and Airbnb options.

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

There is a single aid station for the 10K course next to Fragrance Lake. The half marathon and 50K courses have 2 additional aid stations. As is typical for Destination Trail’s races the aid stations are well stocked and well run.

Weather and typical race conditions

The race is typically run in mid February – I ran the 10k during a year the race had been rescheduled to June. Conditions can vary quite a bit year-to-year in February in the Chuckanuts. I have seen the trail conditions in February span the full spectrum from snow-covered and muddy to dry and buffed-out. Temperatures typically hover in the 40s to low 50s.

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

No special gear required for the shorter distances (10K and half marathon). I have witnessed multiple 50K runners carry and use microspikes on the snowy years.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Spectating sections of the course other than the start and finish does require a bit of hiking but the distances are short and the scenery is great.

How’s the Swag?

As is typical of Destination Trail races the swag is legit.

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

I give the race 4 stars and highly recommend it for those looking for a shorter early-season race.

Paul Sage is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Saturnalia 10k Race Report – Keith Laverty

Race: Saturnalia 10k

Runner: Coach Keith Laverty

Race Date: 12/16/2023

Location: Squaxin Park in Olympia, WA

Results: 1st OA, New CR

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/10390592365

Video Race Report on YouTube

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

  1. The mix of wide/runnable trails/roads and challenging/twisty punchy hills and staircases!
  2. I appreciated having some good competition up front to keep the effort honest from the get-go — Got the most out of each other!
  3. Super convenient race logistics and parking; plus the start/finish was right next to a gym in case you needed a little break from the winter cold!

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

I’d say belief in self! After the 1st mile, the eventual 3rd-place finisher made a big, strong move on an uphill. And while it certainly felt demoralizing in the moment, I think I did good job of just keeping myself in contention and continuing to believe in my ability. Then sure enough, I was able to eventually repass into 1st position around the halfway point while also not getting myself overly fatigued too. Certainly rode a fine line though and most of the race was spent with my gas on the pedal!

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

Pay close attention to the course signage and arrows. There are several twists/windy turns and sections of running a public parking lot for the parks, so just stay attentive! Then don’t forget about the final 100′ uphill that leads to the grass field toward the end!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

I enjoyed the sections along the water, primarily in the 4th and 5th miles of this race. Otherwise, lots of lush, classic, green PNW trails!

We did luck out with a clear day to enjoy the water, I could even see the Capitol building across the water during my warm-up.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

On paper, this doesn’t appear to look terribly difficult. However, all of the hills in the 2nd half are deceivingly hard, especially since many of these are steeper staircases or steps to climb up. With being a relatively short-ish distance, you’ll feel those hills plenty!

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

Rock Candy Running and Mathias Eichler always do a great job with clear communication in their race event details, e-mail newsletter and everything on their website. Very well-organized, well-marked, well-loved event!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

There was this year! Last year’s winner and myself ran about 2 minutes or so under the men’s course record. The top female also took a huge chunk of time off from last year’s (inaugural) winning time too.

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.

Very simple and straightforward. Also, the 9am start was convenient.

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

No aid station during the course but plenty of snacks and warm drinks post-race!

Weather and typical race conditions

Honestly…. I think we lucked out majorly! It was cold but very dry and even a little sun. I’m sure some future years could get some cold, rainy conditions!

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

Likely a grippy trail running shoe and even something on the lighter/faster end of things. On a rainy year, I could potentially see some stair sections or downhill sections being a little slick!

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There is one paved spot/intersection in particular where all the runners will run through 4 times! So that’s likely the best spot to spectate on course. Otherwise, not too long of a wait to hang out at the start/finish area at Reeves Middle School.

How’s the Swag?

Hand-crafted and swag this year in the form of a tree ornament made out of wood! Each finisher also received a pre-determined number to go pick up a surprise goodie or gift after the race too.

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

4.5 stars — I think this event will become a staple, winter community event. Friendly folks and a fun way to end the year of racing!

Keith Laverty is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Seattle Marathon Race Report – Coach Keith Laverty

Race: Seattle Marathon

Runner: Coach Keith Laverty

Race Date: 11/26/2023

Location: Seattle, WA

Results: 3rd OA, 2:32:07

Strava Activity Link

https://www.strava.com/activities/10286662417/overview

Photo: Tiare Bowman

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

  • Big turnout from the running community; lots of on-course cheer stations and enthusiasm!
  • Despite the course change, I liked that the course returned back to starting and finishing in the Seattle center.
  • I enjoyed running in a solid pack of 6 other runners! A lot of my training is solo too, so I feel like I got a good boost with the pack to help pull me along for a faster time.

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

Mile 22-24 got super congested with the marathon runners meeting back up with the half-marathon field. The half had about 3,000 finishers, which is amazing! But it made it tough to find flow and weave through huge crowds of runners, while also losing sight of my next competitor who came in 2nd place.

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

  • Certainly a few quirky parts of the course. I almost took a critical wrong turn that wasn’t super obvious/marked and the same thing happened with another one of our pack runners earlier too. Several icy and slick bits of the course too! One of those sections was on a brick uphill path near the UW campus and I literally had to side step to the sidewalk because the Nike Next% 2 was no good for traction!
  • Another weird part was when we all had to awkwardly hop over a higher concrete barrier and one of the runners in my pack nearly slammed into one of those large orange traffic signs.

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

  • My even pacing strategy, staying even-keeled even despite many distractions/challenges from the race (aka, managing stress response!), and staying in the hunt for the podium spot.
  • Not taking it too seriously and remembering to smile!
  • My fast finishing kick in the final 800m to secure the last podium spot by a mere 4 seconds! It was a stressful, yet exhilarating and fun way to finish!

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

  • Be aware of your footing! Many potholes, icy sections (if cold enough), wet leaves through Interlakken, other transitions between dirt/gravel and road, and other tight turns.
  • There’s no day-of-race bib pick-up, it must be done on either Friday or Saturday in downtown Seattle. Nice that they offer pick-up for 2 days prior to the race though.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Not so much for the first ~6 miles with mostly running the I-5 expressway highway section but after that, not too bad! You get a taste of the UW campus, the Arb, Interlakken Park is pretty, the iconic Gas Works Park and then the classic Green Lake loops!

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

For a road marathon, certainly up there as one of the harder ones out there. Definitely not quite as fast and smooth as many other marathons. There’s about 1600′ of gain for this new course that was used for the first time this year, and several tight turns or places that change from road to gravel and visa versa.

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

I think the Seattle Marathon seemed to step up their game this year based on stories I had heard from the previous two years. Mostly dialed in. However, still a couple of course logistics that could be ironed out a little better, such as the congestion of marathon runners with half-marathon runners in the final 5 miles.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

This year’s field seemed to be the strongest it has seen in the last 10 years! Including in both the marathon and the half distances. In my race, the top-10 all ran under 2:40. So pretty strong given the difficult course!

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

There were stations about every 2-2.5 miles on the course, and most gave out cups of water and Nuun Hydration.

Weather and typical race conditions

About as nice as I could’ve expected for a late November day in Seattle! Although it was pretty cold, ~34 degrees at the start and it barely warmed up at all by the end of my race!

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

For a very cold morning, I’d recommend to consider wearing gloves, arm sleeves and a cap. And those items are easy to take off or to ditch later into the race if need be.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

  • Not bad! Many areas for spectators to cheer. However, driving around the city presented some challenges with many road closures too, so make sure spectators allow themselves enough time and probably only limit to 1-2 different cheer spots on the course.
  • Runners go through one area twice, Mile 7ish, and again at Mile 12ish, so that’s a solid place to spectate from.

How’s the Swag?

The post-race swag bag was pretty impressive! Besides the race medal and a generic long-sleeve tech shirt, we also got a Miir insulated coffee mug, a bin of Huma hydration drink mix, a big tin of CBD/herbal recovery balm and a tall insulated hydration bottle.

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

4 out of 5 stars – A few hiccups here and there on the course profile and logistics but the race has now returned to starting/finishing back at the Seattle Center and the running community really showed up!

Keith Laverty is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Saturnalia 10k Race Info

WINTER, DARKNESS, AND ALL THE WEATHER – Held near the darkest time of the year in the Pacific Northwest, this should brighten up your mood if you’re in need of a well-supported trail race with fun vibes and friendly faces. The race starts and ends at Reeves Middle School in Olympia, WA, and runs on the rolling trails in Squaxin Park.

The Quick List

  • When: 16 December 2023
  • Start time: 9am
  • Where: Squaxin Park, Olympia, WA (Park at Reeves Middle School, 2200 Quince Street NE, Olympia,WA 98506
  • Distance: 10k
  • Awesomeness: 5 out of 5
  • Motivation to race a winter 10k!

Important to Know

  • This is a cupless race, so bring your own flask/collapsible cup, or purchase one at the race.
  • The course is open to the public, so be nice to other trail users while you pass them.
  • There is no course cut-off! If a walk in the woods is your jam, this race is perfect for you.
  • Packet pickup is race morning, so set that alarm, but with a reasonable start of 9am, you won’t have to set it too early.
  • Wear trail shoes with good traction given it’s the wet season in the PNW, with wet bridges and we leaves on the ground covering roots and other ankle twisters!
  • Bring warm clothes to change into afterwards given it’s likely to be wet. Restrooms are available for the day of the race at Reeves gym
  • Parking is at Reeves Middle School. Please do not park at Squaxin Park!
  • Address: 2200 Quince Street NE, Olympia,WA 98506
Wet, leaves, and possibly mud at the Saturnalia 10k in Olympia, WA

Course

  • Type: The pay-attention-to-course-markings kind of course
  • Start/Finish Info: Same location, Reeves Middle School track
  • Hills: Rollers throughout of 30-100 feet gain/loss at a time.
  • 659 feet of elevation gain in 6.4 miles
  • Course Map, Elevation Profile and GPX Route in Strava Race Group.
  • Leave some gas in the tank for the final 100 ft climb back up to the finish!

Aid stations

  • Fully stocked aid station at the finish line
  • Water, Tailwind, soda, fruit, chips, pickles and a few other treats.
  • Warm beverages to…well…warm up!

Spectator access

The best location is the start/finish, but since the trails are open to the public, spectators are allowed to be in the park as well.

Club Event Page on Strava

Race Website

Rock Candy Running

Tapering for a 10k

By Team RunRun coach Laurie Porter

Whether you are an experienced runner or a newbie, tapering sets you up for success on race day. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to simply finish the race, or if you are aiming to set a personal record, tapering well is going to help you be your best on race day. 

The Saturnalia 10k race is an example of a 10k that runners will be tapering for this season.
10ks come in lots of forms. The Saturnalia 10k in Olympia, WA is one of our favorites for a fun and challenging winter 10k!

Mileage and Intensity

When tapering for a 10k, the ideal taper begins with a gradual reduction in mileage about seven to ten days before your 10K race. The goal is to stay sharp while feeling rested. This can be a delicate balance, as some people fare better with a minimal taper, while others perform best with a more drastic taper. Knowing this, you want to assess your training and tapering from race to race to see what works best for you. Over time, you will discover and tweak your ideal taper. If you are working with a coach, your coach will help determine your best taper method as you progress through your training.

If you have just been running easy miles, the taper will consist solely of mileage reduction. If you have been incorporating speed work into your training, your volume of intensity should remain high until a week before the race. Your rest intervals between speed reps or intervals should become longer as well to allow for more recovery. 

Recovery and Rest

You will also want to ensure that you are getting adequate recovery and rest during your training cycle and taper. It is important to understand that muscles heal, grow and get stronger during rest and recovery, not during the actual training sessions. Active and passive recovery are equally important. Active recovery includes your cool down runs after harder efforts, your easy running days, static stretching (always done after running workouts), in addition to foam rolling, yoga and other forms of low intensity cross training like walking, swimming or biking. Passive recovery is the time you spend sleeping and resting from physical activity. Both forms of recovery play an important role in being ready on race day. So think of your sleep time as training because that is when your body is getting stronger and making all those adaptations from your big training days! 

Nutrition

When tapering fora 10k you also want to be dialing in your nutrition. While nutritional needs will vary from athlete to athlete depending on gender, age, size and activity level, you should make sure your macronutrient balance is solid. Macronutrients include: carbohydrates, protein and fats (primarily good fats). The Macronutrient ratio will also vary, but a typical ratio would include 50% carbohydrate, 25% protein and 25% fats. It is also important to make sure your calorie intake is sufficient, which is also determined by the above factors. There is no need to do heavy carb loading before a 10K unless running well over an hour. If you are planning on running the event in an hour or less, ensure that you eat well every day leading up to the event and especially the night before and morning of. If you plan on being out on the course any longer than that, your carbohydrate intake may need to be a little higher. So much more could be said regarding nutritional needs for running and racing, but this gives you something to “chew on” as you prepare. For a deeper dive I recommend checking out Nancy Clark, one of America’s top Sports Nutritionist. 

10k Tapering Details

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty. Here is an example of a taper for a 10K race:

An intermediate-advanced athlete training for a 10K who has an average weekly mileage of 30-35 miles with a long run averaging 7-10 miles. 

A cautionary note: Don’t try this exact taper if you haven’t done the work necessary leading up to this point! Each of the workouts shown below are designed with a specific physiological purpose in mind. Types of training runs shown in this plan include:

Easy or recovery runs – running that is done at an easy effort where you could carry on a conversation without difficulty if you are running with a friend. The majority of your running should be done at an easy effort which increases your aerobic endurance and allows your body to burn fat as the primary fuel.

Tempo effort runs – running at an effort that is between comfortable and hard, or a pace that you could potentially race for 60-70 minutes. These are important for developing your aerobic capacity which is your ability to run faster for longer periods.

Hill repeat workouts – are typically done as shorter intervals and are usually done at moderate/hard to hard efforts depending on your experience and race goal. If your race involves hills, it is very important to incorporate these into your training, but are not necessarily excluded from flat race training. Hill repeats if done right are beneficial because they help you develop strength, power, speed, and increased stride length as well as improve V02 max.

Fartlek workouts – A Swedish term meaning speed play, are varied workouts that can include a variety of paces and interval times. These kinds of workouts can be done with multiple purposes in mind. 

GP or goal pace intervals – are short to long intervals designed to train your body to run a sustainable pace for the duration of the event. Training goal pace allows you to practice the effort and helps your body memorize the pace. 

Strides are shorter intervals usually done at but not limited to mile race pace. Strides are beneficial because they help develop quick turnover and top end speed. They should be short enough to not cause fatigue yet keep you in touch with your higher end speed.

10k Tapering Wrap up

When tapering for a 10k, you can see that we still incorporate all the elements of a training plan, but as general rules we: 

  • Reduce mileage
  • Reduce intensity during the week leading up to the race
  • Increase our rest intervals between speed intervals in order to optimize for recovery
  • Focus on rest and nutrition to be our best on race day

Lastly, there are many different and individual responses to tapering, so what works for your running buddy may not be optimal for you. Work with a coach, pay attention to your training, and find the right recipe that has you feeling your best on race day!  

Always enjoy the journey and good luck on your next 10K race!

Laurie Porter is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Crystal Mountain Hill Climb Race Report

Race: Crystal Mountain Hill Climb

Runner: Coach Keith Laverty

Race Date: 09/09/2023

Location: Crystal Mountain Resort, WA

Results: 2nd, 37:15

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/9816508271

Photo: Crystal Mountain Resort

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

  1. The scenic views at the summit including Mt. Rainier
  2. Loved the upbeat music at the summit; encouraging to hear it as you got closer to the top when things were hurting!T
  3. The gondola ride

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

A little more pre-race enthusiasm/energy from the race organization would’ve been nice – it felt a little underwhelming and quieter than I’d see compared to other events.

Not a huge deal but the race results were never posted online publicly and only sent out to racers as a separate PDF file; listing out only the last names and not a first name. I always like seeing race results posted for a particular event as well as their historical results, course records, etc.

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

Not weird to the race event itself but there was also a disc golf tournament happening that same morning around the resort. And the campsite I reserved for the night before had quite the rowdy crowd of disc golfers until late into the evening. Lesson learned to always have ear plugs available in my bag!

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

I haven’t breathed that deeply in a long time! Fun to mix it up with a shorter but steep race. Race went out hot and had already found myself in about 4th/5th a half mile in but then I decided to settle into my own pace and what felt appropriate.

Got as close to as maybe ~20 seconds to 1st position halfway into the climb but I couldn’t quite reel him in. Ended up being about 1 minute back of the winner, Joe Berger. Solid day on the mountain and good for a $250 prize!

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

Certainly felt like a V02max development effort! Definitely work on overall higher-end aerobic fitness (think 5k-10k training) but also climbing ability for a longer duration. I’d recommend bringing some form of hydration but likely more on the minimal side too.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The first half is mostly on a wider road but pretty challenging terrain with loose rocks, uneven footing, and several sharp turns. Some unrelenting climbs in there! Then the 2nd half transitions more into singletrack trail that’s not quite as technical but still climbs; some trail was dusty. Then just when you think you’re getting close to the top, you get a couple of more really steep bits including a staircase section!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Beautiful! High alpine terrain, mountains all around, and assuming a clear day, a picturesque view of Mt. Rainier.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

I don’t know if I’d call any entirely uphill, VK style of course as “easy”, so yeah, it’s tough!

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

In only it’s 2nd-year event, it did alright! But I could tell a few minor, nice-to-have details could’ve been ironed out that you’d typically see at other events with more experience.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

With a prize purse for the top-3 male and female including $500 for the winners, it can draw some solid competition. But still not a particularly deep or competitive field compared to something like the Cirque mountain running series.

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.

Race registration was open until the day before the race; lots of space. This year’s event had about 75 finishers. Lots of campgrounds nearby including Buck Creek Campground where they host White River 50 from. Otherwise, any of the AirBNBs, the Loge Hotel (Alta Crystal), or hotels next to the resort are very expensive!

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

No aid stations but not really necessary either for a relatively shorter event. Just prepare to bring your own hydration or nutrition.

Weather and typical race conditions

Overall, pretty nice! Sunny, clear, smoke-less, and maybe in the high 50’s/low 60’s. It was also a later 10am start, so very convenient for not needing to wake up super early but the sun was shining fairly warm by the time the race began.

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

Although it is a relatively shorter race in terms of duration, I’d still recommend bringing some hydration, such as a single flask/handheld or a smaller-capacity vest. I raced without any water and basically regretted not bringing a smaller handheld to at least prevent the back of my throat from drying up! With working really hard combined with the altitude starting at about 4500′ elevation, a little water would’ve been nice.

I’m also glad that I wore sunscreen!

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Not so much mid-course but spectators can conveniently take the scenic gondola up right near the race start and then see their runners finish at the summit!

How’s the Swag?

Pretty minimal; each finisher got a wood-etched medal, and I think that was it! Although they were giving out free Red Bull and other items from The North Face booth.

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

3.5 out of 5 stars – I think this race has the potential to draw a bigger field and community, with a little more marketing and logistics dialed in; and especially being essentially the only VK (uphill only with no downhill) type of race in Washington State.

Keith Laverty is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his profile.

Photo: Crystal Mountain Resort

Double Wonderland Trip Report – Mike Groenewegen

This is Mike Groenewegen’s Trip Report from his Double Wonderland Trail adventure in September 2023. Mike is an accomplished ultrarunner with top10 finishes in 200 mile races including a 2nd place at the Tahoe 200. But one of his major running goals for the past few years has been to complete the iconic Wonderland Trail in WA around Mount Rainier (93 miles and 24,000′ of vertical gain), to do it in a completely unsupported manner, AND to do two loops in one go! Mike is an amazing athlete and an amazing human – here is his report.

I have been dreaming about completing the double Wonderland unsupported for the last 3 years after 3 failed attempts.

Fueling the Adventure

A lot has been learned in each attempt, with a lot of that knowledge being centered around carrying more calories and managing the heavy pack. This time I switched to the Ultimate Direction 20L pack from the Black Diamond 15L and used primarily ramen instead of Spring Energy gels. Below is what the pack looked like going in. (In the end I did switch out two of the ramens for four spring energy gels because all of these ramen packs wouldn’t fit in the pack.) I only used two of the Summit Breakfast Scrambles which were in the plastic bags as the stomach couldn’t take any more. Six packs of ramen were remaining. A total of 18,000 calories were consumed by the end.

Route specifics

The FKT rules allow for any direction and starting point around the Wonderland but it felt important to respect the previous double finishers Ras Vaughan and Christof Teuscher who both started at White River Campground going clockwise and then counter-clockwise for the 2nd loop. Ras was the first to complete the double supported in 89 hours (https://fastestknowntime.com/fkt/jason-ras-vaughn-wonderland-trail-wa-2012-09-10) and Christof completed it supported and then doing it self-supported in 80 hours (https://fastestknowntime.com/fkt/christof-teuscher-wonderland-trail-wa-2020-10-04). Special thanks to these both for paving the way on the double and an extra tipped hat to Christof for being the only one to complete the loop 3x. 

The Adventure

Everything felt good starting at White River at 7:30am. The pack was heavy but I used Leukotape on the shoulders and the bottom of the back which stuck better than KT tape used a previous time. Stopped to chat with a backpacker after the Panhandle Gap who was hiking the Wonderland for the first time as a retirement gift to himself. He was on his last day of the trip and there was a childlike happiness in his eyes and voice. It was the first of many moments with others on the trail where this journey never felt unsupported.  

Before Indian Bar Camp

The pack weighed heavy on the body and mind but the spirits were good. Finished the gels in the first 5 hours and then switched to cold soaking ramen which were being consumed every 3 hours for part of the first loop and then every 2 hours after. Used the bobo bars whenever a break was needed from the ramen. While the ramen was never fun to consume, eventually found a rhythm as how to best take them in where I would soak them for 45 mins in a Talenti cup before consuming them and then needing small bites to finish them by the 2nd loop. Learned to fill the Talenti cup with water for the dry stretches and then dropping the noodles in 45 mins before eating. 

It was a big moral boost making it to Indian Henry’s cabin by sunset as I had done during my previous 3 attempts. Took in the pastel colors on Tahoma behind the Ranger’s cabin and remembered why it’s my favorite viewpoint on the trail.

Indian Henry Cabin

Longmire to Mowich has always broke me when starting from White River with the five big climbs and descents. Made it a point to get to Mowich campground by morning and then after made it a goal to finish the first loop by sunset at White River. When all hope felt lost, I would set the alarm to sleep for 30 mins which usually ended up being 15 min dirt naps in the emergency bivvy. After the nap I would eat while thinking about the support felt and had to repeat the sleep/eat/positive thinking several times that first loop. In total got around 2 hours of sleep over the 77 hours. 

Finished the first loop in 35:54 before sunset which was faster than my previous 2 double attempts. Even though there are no fkt unsupported rules about needing to carry all your own trash, I originally had planned to carry all it for both loops but felt uneasy during the first loop naps with the smell of the garbage possibly attracting wildlife. Decided to throw away the garbage at White River for that safety reason. While I respect the true nature of being unsupported, safety is more important to me and I made up for it in other ways by not listening to any music and never messaging anyone outside of the trail other than once to MapShare after the first loop. 

Had wondered what it would be like going into the second loop after the previous failed attempts and was surprised to feel a sense of calm. At Carbon River that feeling disappeared upon breaking the Leki pole when it slipped on a boulder which drove me down a deep low that took several hours to climb out of. During the first loop before Longmire, I had dropped the water filter of the bottle into a whirlpool of a river. It sank to the bottom of the pool that was over 6ft deep as it slowly made a circle and I accepted it being gone forever as it headed towards the rapids. It miraculously kept circling before surfacing right where my hand was where I had dropped it. Another time earlier in the first loop I thought I had lost my fork and had accepted needing to eat the noodles with my fingers the remainder of the time before finding it in a pocket. Even though all the big climbs in the 2nd loop were still to come, the gratitude of having the filter and fork overpowered not having poles and got me eventually out of the deep low.

A river running through a forest

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Carried 2 500ml soft flasks which always felt enough for the clockwise loop with the many water refills but for going counter-clockwise I wish I had another bottle for the long climb up to Golden Lakes as there was no water for about 12 miles. It was amazing experiencing Mowich to Longmire when it was light out after all the previous double attempt loops were in the dark. Where everything in the first loop was during the day and night, the second loop was reversed. It felt very special to fully experience the trail like that.

A heavy rainstorm set in upon reaching Emerald Ridge at the 3rd sunset and it would keep coming down through the night. Found a dry patch under a tree to sit by Indian Henry’s cabin in the middle of the night. A passing runner who was doing the loop for his first time joined me and we talked for 15 mins about many small things in the pouring rain that felt like many big things in that moment. 

Before Panhandle Gap

It wasn’t until the 7-mile and 3,000ft climb up to Indian Bar Camp where there was a full focus on trying to finish below Christof’s 80-hour double record. Could have used an extra bottle for this dry stretch and it like the climb up Golden Lakes gave a full appreciation of the difficulty of the loop when experiencing it going the other direction. There were many emotions upon seeing the Panhandle gap knowing the end was close and feeling a tremendous happy/sad about closing this chapter after dreaming about it for 3 years. Made it back to White River campground in 77:01 hours, with a heavy gratitude for the experience.

Massive congrats to Mike for this new FKT! Mike is a long time member of Team RunRun and we’re so proud of him for all the puts into his running and all that he gives back to the community. If his Double Wonderland Trip Report has inspired you and you’re interested in finding a coach to help you with your adventures, you can search 100+ coaches to find the best fit for you.

Redmond Harvest Half Marathon Race Report – Brian Comer

Photo: Seattle United Runners

Race: Redmond Harvest Half Marathon

Runner: Coach Brian Comer

Race Date: 09/04/2023

Location: Redmond, WA

Results: https://www.redmondharvesthalf.com/Race/Results/147339#resultSetId-402578;perpage:10

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

  1. This is a great course for those looking to PR, a flat out and back along the Sammamish River Trail with really good competition considering it was the USATF PNW Half Marathon Championship.
  2. With it serving as the championship, there was also a team competition with cross country style scoring which is always fun.
  3. For being its inaugural year, the race was really well run. Good venues for the start/finish area as well as the post-race party. Accurate mile markers and given the trail wasn’t closed off for the race, there was plenty of spectator and volunteer support all along the course.

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

Nothing really to put here, the turnaround was a bit of a hairpin turn but there isn’t really much that can be done to address that other than not taking the turn too tightly. With the trail being open, you might also have to prepare yourself to dodge other foot traffic and bikes but for the most part, everyone was understanding and accommodating as they were aware of the race, allowing runners to follow the tangents and often cheering runners on as well.

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

Nothing necessarily weird per se but some opt to really lean into the race’s harvest theme.

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

This wound up being a breakthrough race in a way for me. I ran nearly a 3 minute PR, which doesn’t happen often with experienced level runners. Weather was perfect, felt smooth the first half as well even when my stomach was feeling less than ideal. Legs started falling off around mile 8 plus there was a brutal headwind on the way back. I was still able to rally well and come back strong for the last couple miles.

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

If at all possible, I’d recommend picking up your race bib prior to race morning. There’s two opportunities to do so (Saturday in Seattle and Sunday in Redmond) leaving you with options no matter what your Labor Day holiday weekend might look like. Also have fun with it, being an out and back course you’ll tend to be surrounded by people throughout the race. That extra energy and excitement will help put a little pep in your step.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I definitely ate too much too close to race time. I kept telling myself the extra piece of toast would come in handy the second half of the race but all it brought was stomach discomfort.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It’s a paved out and back course. It starts and finishes in Marymoor Park in a paved lot west of the Velodrome and follows the Marymoor Commuter trail out of the park before joining up with the Sammamish River Trail. Aside from the hairpin at the turnaround and some natural turns to stay on the trail, there is a pedestrian bridge at Leary Street you cross with a spiral path on each side.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

I’d say the course is pretty, very urban but you get a lot of nice views of the river throughout. Marymoor is also quite nice as well, not to mention running by Sixty Acres Park brought back all the nostalgia from my days of playing peewee soccer.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Not all that difficult, flat and fast. Definitely a good course for a PR.

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

Very well oiled machine despite this year being the inaugural year for the race. Accurate mile markers, ample volunteers, good course markings and all around support/energy.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Absolutely with it being the USATF PNW Half Marathon Championship with prize money for the top 3 USATF finishers and top 3 teams. I ran 1:09:49 which was good for 5th place overall. Top 15 were all under 1:15, 31 (including the top woman) under 1:20.

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.

No special handshake but there are discount codes passed around amongst the local clubs. For those coming from out of town, the Redmond Inn (which is really close to the start/finish and one of the race sponsors) provides a good lodging option.

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

Four aid stations (two that you hit twice each, miles 4, 6, 7, and 9)all with water and GU Tropical Citrus hydration drink. Miles 4 and 9 have GU Blueberry Pomegranate Energy Chews and Miles 6 and 7 have GU Vanilla Orange Roctane Energy Gels.

Weather and typical race conditions

Really perfect running conditions, cloudy and low 60s. Rain did eventually come but it was more of a refreshing drizzle if anything.

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

No extra gear was really needed.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Absolutely, with it being an out and back course, you can stay in one spot on the trail and see runners twice. Hanging out at Marymoor provides viewing of the start/finish while there’s also a foot bridge over the trail (between miles 2 and 3/ 10 and 11) that’s accessible and good for viewing. With the race entirely on a paved run/bike trail, there aren’t any road closures, meaning you could drive freely to various spots on the course if you desire.

How’s the Swag?

Good, finisher medals are nice, top 3 in addition to prize money also got gift baskets. 4th-6th place overall as well as age group winners also got gift cards to Super Jock n’ Jill. Nice race shirts too. In order to guarantee a shirt, there is a registration deadline, which this year was August 10th.

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

5 stars I definitely recommend others run it.

Photo: Seattle United Runners

Brian Comer is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Cascade Crest 100 Race Report – Rob Raux

Photo: Takao Suzuki

Race: Cascade Crest 100

Runner: Rob Raux

Race Date: 07/21/2023

Location: Easton, WA

Results: 29 OA, 27:29:35

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/9502476459

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

  1. Volunteers and logistics were on another level. I felt nothing but love and helpfulness from anyone I interacted with during the race.
  2. Beautiful views of Mount Rainier, stunningly tall trees, and a good chunk along the PCT.
  3. Unique trip up/down a ropes course and through the Snoqualmie Tunnel to the Hyak.

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

  1. Less of the course was runnable for me than I’d prefer, especially since it was an out and back year.
  2. Significant dust/dry dirt kicked up, especially during the early miles when there were packs of people. Had congestion/dirt in the respiratory system for a few days afterwards.

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

The 2.25 mile trip through the Snoqualmie Tunnel was very surreal. The skeleton of a pacer half way through was a nice touch.

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

Showing up to the race healthy made the race significantly more enjoyable. I had calf issues in the lead up and wasn’t sure how healthy I would feel.

I didn’t start too fast, kept things even keel throughout, and was rewarded by moving up significantly through the field in the second half of the race. It’s always a mental highlight to be moving up through the field instead of realizing you’ve overdone it.

The problem solving after losing liquid calories (use your imagination), falling and locking up the muscles, and general effort management — it felt like a well executed race plan that took into account my limitations.

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

  1. If there’s still a ropes course, bring gloves with you. I had to be very careful with the nylon ropes on the bare skin both up and down.
  2. The ice bandanna was key for the daytime running. Almost every aid station had ice to refill.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • If you plan for liquid calories, remember you actually need to drink that amount of liquid too. Training for 4-5 hours with liquid calories is much different than trying to consume it for 12+ hours straight. Have a backup plan!
  • Consistency is key. I started middle of the pack, kept it even keel, stopped to gather myself or solve problems, and slowly moved up the field without even intending to. It sounds simple when written out. It’s much more difficult when you’re in the moment.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

This race report is for the 2023 version, which was an alternate route course (out and back), similar to what was run in 2023.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Stellar views almost the entire time, just don’t look away too long or you’re gunna end up on the ground.

Photo: Takao Suzuki

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Very technical uphill/downhills with larger rocks that I was uncomfortable navigating in the dark. It’s surely on the tougher side on average with the gain.

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

The volunteers were absolutely phenomenal, the aid stations were each uniquely themed, stacked with goodies, and helpful. The race is truly a non-profit, all proceeds all donated to the Easton FD — a labor of love and you can tell.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Race has a bit more of a “local” feel but there is still strong (but not deep) field.

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.

Easy 1.5 hour trip from SEA-TEC airport, I stayed in Cle Elum with no issues, booking only a few months out, after I made it off the waitlist. Since there are a number locals participating there may be a less heavy demand on hotels, etc.

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

Standard fare, each themed and incredibly helpful.

Weather and typical race conditions

Race was 60F-85F range and low humidity. Full sun in a lot of places but very bugs/mosquitos. Unseasonably dry so significant dust when in groups.

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

I only used my poles after 80 miles. There are plenty of areas where it would be beneficial earlier if you’re strong with them.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There are a lot of remote areas that are inaccessible/discouraged so not easy access for viewing. The start/finish area was very welcoming, along with the turn around at Hyak.

How’s the Swag?

  • Good quality T-Shirt, Mug, Drymax Socks at packet pickup.
  • Beautiful belt buckle, high quality finisher Hoodie
  • Cheap/At Cost additional clothes & stickers available for purchase

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

4.5/5 — highly recommended if you’re looking for that accessible mountain race

Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon Race Report – Matt Hall

Photo: AJ PETERSON

Race: Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon

Runner: Matt Hall

Race Date: 07/30/2023

Location: North Bend, WA

Results: 3:11:24 https://www.athlinks.com/event/379803/results/Event/1055186/Results

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/9552544434

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

Trail is beautiful, downhill, and the race shirts were really nice. Photos were great too!

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

  • Started 25 minutes late.
  • Parking instructions were bad.
  • Live runner tracking didn’t work.
  • Waited a full 24hr to post results (still haven’t sent an email with results 48 hours later)

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

2 miles through a tunnel requiring a headlamp. Tunnel was also filled with unmarked potholes full of water.

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

Put up a big 8 minute 45 second PR. Paced myself really well so I didn’t crash towards the end.

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

Road shoes were fine but it is a bit rockier than most courses; 100% compact gravel trail

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Next time I’d bring a cheap flashlight and ditch in the trash after the tunnel.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Beautiful; probably the most beautiful course you’ll ever do.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Easy. The entire course is about a 1.5% decline. Not so steep that it kills your legs but steep enough that you get a little momentum boost.

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

I’d give them a 6/10. Starting line was a bit chaotic with starting late and not communicating well with runners.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Crazy. First place finished in 2:07:11.

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.

I had no trouble signing up 3 months before raceday. The start time was 6am which is just early enough that it’s rough to wake up in time to drive out to north bend, get on the shuttle, and get to the course without waking up at 3am.

There is only one hotel by the start line and it was sold out.

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

Standard. More porta potties than I was expecting

Weather and typical race conditions

Perfect; we really lucked out. Start line was around 58 and foggy, finish line was low 60s and sunny.

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

Bring a throwaway flashlight

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Only if your friends like to hike. There are only 3 or 4 possible spots to meet runners in the first 20 miles of the course and all of them require a quarter mile to mile hike from the nearest parking lot. There’s a great parking and cheering spot around mile 21 at Rattlesnake Lake otherwise the second best option is probably the intersection with the Mount Washington Trail.

How’s the Swag?

Great! Love the race shirts and they were selling previous year’s shirts for just $5.

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

4/5 stars. I’d give them 5 if the starting line was more organized.

Photo: SAM WESTOVER

Capital City Half Marathon Race Report – Coach Keith Laverty

Photo: Jen Kelly

Race: Capital City Half Marathon

Runner: Coach Keith Laverty

Race Date: 05/21/2023

Location: Olympia, WA

Results: 1st Overall, 1:13:46

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/9114235125

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

  1. The fanfare and lively spectators around town, and from their driveways in some residential areas toward the end.
  2. Easy, straightforward logistics and parking
  3. The course!

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

At one water station, I seemed to grab the small water cup a little too aggressively from a volunteer teenager and I basically smashed the cup too much, spilling water everywhere! But still got enough water for what I wanted. I remember this happened during a half marathon in 2019 too, so I seem to have a problem in grabbing water cups gracefully : )

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

Overall pace management over the hilly terrain and race execution. Started fairly comfortable and smooth, then gradually floated away into the lead later in the 1st mile. Then started to work harder heading into the 2nd half including letting it fly for the final downhill mile with ~5:00-5:05 split. Hilly, road courses plays into my strengths as an experienced trail runner and my track/speed background, so I didn’t mind the hills!

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Be prepared for a few good hills and not exactly the best course if you’re seeking a PR! The last mile is a consistent, steady downhill which is an absolute blast!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Not bad! A nice mix of some city running but also more rural, countryside streets too. Toward the end, you run through some residential streets and it seemed like everyone came out to cheer (and party!) from their front yards and driveways!

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

I’d say fairly harder than the average half-marathon course with 500′ of elevation gain. I felt that the toughest section is a constant uphill from about Mile 9.0-10.5.

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

All good here! Very well-organized, no snafus. They have a bag check fairly close to the start too, which was very convenient.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Not particularly but you never know who could show up!

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.

All pretty simple and straightforward. You can register up until the week of the race. I stayed with a friend, so not sure on booking lodging. There were nearly 1,000 entrants for the half alone though, so you may want to secure lodging at least a few weeks in advance if you can!

Weather and typical race conditions

Mid-50’s and overcast… pretty ideal! The day before was very hot though too, so probably lucked out a bit this year!

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

I’d say so! The half is one big loop, so perhaps opportunity to see your runner somewhere in the middle before they reach the finish; however several roads closed off too. Spectating by bike could be a good option too.

How’s the Swag?

Pretty standard swag. A gray long-sleeve with thumbholes and a medal. For winning the race, I received a plaque in a fancy box and a dinner for two at the local Anthony’s restaurant.

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

4 out of 5 stars – Well-organized, great community event!

Keith Laverty is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Sun Mountain 20 Mile Race Report – Shannon Payne

Race: Sun Mountain 20 Mile

Runner: Shannon Payne

Race Date: 05/13/2023

Location: Winthrop, WA

Results: https://chronokeep.com/results/sun-mountain-50m#50Mile

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/9065833201

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

Balsamroot! 360 views of the North Cascades! Pizza party and private beach on Patterson Lake at the finish line!

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

On an early season warm day one more aid station would have been nice.

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

Dogs can run at Sun Mt now and I got beat by one this year!

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

I dialed my effort back a notch on the first 8 mile climb and was able to give a steady effort through to the finish line.

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

Don’t go too hard on the intro climb because there are a couple more 1-2 mile climbs, one of them at mile 15.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Pay attention! I got turned around and lost the trail – lucky for me another runner came up behind me and we parsed it out together.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

A fair amount of exposure on the big climb, luckily you’ll hit this early in the day – unless you’re running the 50 mile!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Gorgeous, especially in May, nothing beats balsamroot blooming in the peaks of the Methow.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Well, it wasn’t easy, but I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder?

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

Rainshadow Running has trail races down. They’re a little old school in that the race length is more a suggestion of minimum distance and there may be a few trees down on the course, but it’s all in the spirit of a good time on the trails – as it should be!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Some fast folks as always, but it’s reasonable, i.e. don’t be afraid to show up.

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.

This was the first year for the 20 mile and it didn’t sell out (104 registered), but I expect this distance might become as popular as the Sun Mountain 25k which requires a lottery.

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

Standard fare, fruit at the Woodpecker aid station was a welcome treat.

Weather and typical race conditions

Last year was cold and rainy, this year was sunny and 80 degrees – it’s spring in the Methow!

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

I used a handheld, but also saw a lot of folks wearing vests. Given the paucity of aid stations and the heat, I was glad I carried my own fluids.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Maybe? Cheer squads can access the Woodpecker aid station and there are other places you could connect with your runner on the course if you wanted. The party at the finish was very family friendly – dogs, kids, and a lake!

How’s the Swag?

A high five from James Varner as you cross the finish line!

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

Is this a 5 star system? If so, I’ll give it 5 stars. Rainshadow Running knows how to throw a party and you can’t beat spring in the Methow.

Bloomsday 12k Race Report – Sarah Garza

Race: Bloomsday 12K

Runner: Sarah Garza

Race Date: 05/07/2023

Location: Spokane, Washington

Results: 1:05:22

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

  1. The energy of the runners – most of the participants, such as myself, are frequent flyers of this particular race, and it’s always a great way to kick off summer!
  2. The race is well orchestrated, and everything flows nicely, even with thousands of participants of all skill levels.
  3. The supportive spectators/race entertainment along the course – such a fun experience for a tough race!

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

The one thing I don’t love is the way the first part of the race is very crowded while individuals are getting their paces in check.

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

I really enjoyed running the course with my coach, Jodi O’Shea! She pushed me through the race to do way better than I would have done on my own. Since I’m still in a recovery of sorts from a muscle injury in my leg, I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to go through with the race at all! I was able to complete the run in my second-best time, so I very much exceeded my goal for the race.

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

The first mile or so can take some maneuvering skills because it is very congested in the beginning of the race. Although start times are staggered based on estimated finish times to prevent a lot of crowding, it doesn’t work out that way. I’ve tripped on people in my early days of this race, and wound up with scrapes and bruises.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Don’t let yourself think the end is close when you see mile mark 7! You still have further to go than you want to imagine.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Be ready for some hills – this course is well-known to be tough, particularly Doomsday Hill between mile 5 and 6.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It’s moderately hard, yes. Hilly, although elevation changes are nothing extreme.

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

I believe this was the 47th Bloomsday – it’s well-organized and I hope it stays that way in years to come!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Very strong – this year there were nearly 26,000 participants.

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.

It’s great to get everything booked in advance as you get better prices, but last minute registrations still take place! Since the race takes place in downtown Spokane there is a lot of lodging available in walking/jogging distance to the race start. The race entry costs are a lot less than so many races out there, even small local races.

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

There are a lot of aid stations available along the course. When you sign up they provide a map of all water/medical stations along the course.

Weather and typical race conditions

Since it’s springtime in Eastern Washington State, it’s a tossup of what weather you may come across. Some years are hot and sunny, others are mild and overcast… once in a while you get a bit of rain. This year was perfect, about 64 degrees with some clouds

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

No special gear. I’ve seen people dressed as bananas and I’ve seen people without shoes on. Just depends what your race goals are I suppose.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Definitely! Find a great band to park near for a fun experience.

How’s the Swag?

Minimal swag – you can purchase extra gear when you sign up for the race, and there’s a great expo when you pick up your race packet. But it’s only a cotton T-shirt at the end of the finish line.

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

5/5

Run the Green Race Report – Sean Celli

Race: Run The Green

Runner: Sean Celli

Race Date: 03/11/2023

Location: Kent, WA

Results: 1:25:24

Strava Activity Link: https://strava.app.link/ayzn6awQlyb

Reppin’ the TRR singlet and hat!

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

  • Super well organized like all Orca races, REI sponsored and even a massage 🙂
  • Good course support with timing mats at 3&10
  • Flat, fast, great scenery

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

  • GRT is still having work done so there’s a few bypasses with 6 bridges and extra underpasses. These make for a few sharp turns
  • Out and backs are not so fun, particularly when you get a little congested with 10k participants

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

100m on InterUrban Trail to get the distance, and a very abrupt turn around a cone. The support crew was 1 meter behind cone and you had to run between the cone and them. I was sure I’d knock her over!

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

I ran with a friend and we paced it perfectly. It was cool and sunny. Singlet and gloves. This course was ideal for my training and I could hear coach telling me that the stoke is on. I channeled it.

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

Be comfortable with turns, and like fast and flat. 200’ overall elevation.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I did not need to carry liquids as they had support with cups which was unexpected for Orca!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

It’s gorgeous on the Green with loads of trees

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

No, but the 200’ ups are primarily in the back half.

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

They have it down. Happy, nice, quick results on QR code and AG awards within minutes.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

This was inaugural run, so less than their will be, less than Lake Sam, but a good group of competitors nonetheless

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.

If you’re travelling, there’s places in Tukwila or Kent to stay. Easy logistics and free parking at race start, with a 3 minute walk to start line. And lots of porta potties than were brand new. Win!

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

Nuun and Clif gels. Cups and self fill. They were easy and friendly!

Weather and typical race conditions

It was ideal. 45-55, sun. I wouldn’t expect that for a Seattle March, usually drizzle and 40’s.

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

Check course support on cups. You might need to carry if you require liquids in a 1-2.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

For sure. Loads of places to view, bridge spots are great!

How’s the Swag?

Excellent. Shirts are unique and match great medal. AG awards for top 3 (gun time) in each AG, plus too 3 overall by gender

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

5

Deception Pass Marathon Race Report – Michael Linscott

Race: Deception Pass Marathon

Runner: Michael Linscott

Race Date: 03/11/2023

Location: Deception Pass, WA

Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=97667

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/8698364345/overview

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

  • One of the prettiest courses around.
  • Super well organized and lots of aid stations.
  • Perfect weather.

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

  • At mile 16 of the marathon the course joins up with the half marathon and suddenly the course becomes very crowded.
  • Lots of the course is small out and backs along single-track trails. This causes a lot of congestion and stopping to let other runners pass.
  • The line for a burger at the finish line was super long.

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

  • A lot of the course is part of an out and back, or repeated.
  • Crossing Deception Pass Bridge is no joke. Especially with a decent side-wind and cars passing by. Not for the faint of heart, but beautiful.

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

Good weather, chilly to start but just right once we got into the woods. The marathoners spread out pretty quickly and for the first 16 or so miles I was running by myself for most of it. The aid stations are well placed and spaced out just right so I didn’t need to carry anything besides a hand-held.

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

There are lots of short, steep climbs so be prepared. And the second half has a lot of rocky and rooty sections that are not easy.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

A 7am start meant getting up at 4am to drive to the start. Usually I’d stay the night close to the race at Lake Campbell. So waking up early, driving, and trying to get some calories in before the start didn’t work great and the first few miles of the race my body was super sluggish.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Don’t get frustrated with the stopping and starting along the out-and-backs during the second half of the race.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

It is one of the prettiest courses in the PNW. You start running along the coast and then up to a beautiful vista at Goose Point. Then miles 7-14 are in a nice lush forest. You cross Deception Pass Bridge, twice, which is spectacular. Then the later miles are out to small points with views of the bays and the ocean, bald eagles, kayakers and sometimes seals.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

There are a few short, steep climbs and the rockyness makes parts of it not super runnable but none of it is difficult.

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

Very well organized, lots of volunteers, well communicated, well marked trails, etc.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

There were a few very fast runners, but for the most part it was pretty chill as far as “competition”.

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.

Nothing special, I don’t think it even sold out. Lots of lodging on the island as well as a few minutes further in Anacortes. Lots of parking at the start, you just need a Discovery Pass.

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

There was quite a bit for everyone at the aid stations. GUs, tailwind, Coke etc as well as your standard snacks.

Weather and typical race conditions

March along the coast is going to be chilly, but the fog burned off and the sun came out later in the race. I think even if it was rainy, most of the course is pretty sheltered by trees. There were a few pretty muddy spots, but nothing horrible.

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

I only carried a hand-held, the aid stations were spaced well and stocked great. The trails are rocky in spots so I’d recommend cushy shoes.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

It isn’t that great for spectators, there are maybe 4 or so spots to see your runner. But on the other hand, it is a great place to go explore and enjoy the park while your runner is out there. Lots of trails to hike/run, on and off the course.

How’s the Swag?

Meh, we all got a race medal that said “Marathon and Half Marathon”. I guess I’d rather pay a bit less and not get the medal or pay a touch more and get one specifically for the distance I ran. But some people don’t mind.

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

Five out of five stars. Fun trails, well run and that spectacular, coastal scenery.

Sequalitchew Trail Marathon Race Report – Derek Siebert

Race: Sequalitchew Trail Marathon

Runner: Derek Siebert

Race Date: 03/04/2023

Location: DuPont, WA

Results: 3:55 4th of 37

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/8660130876

Photo: Takao Suzuki

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

Well organized and well marked course. Lots of intersections so you do have to pay attention. Really supportive runners, volunteers and race staff. It’s a lollipop course so you get to see full, half and 10k runners multiple times. Great scenery in several parts of the course and nearly all of it is very runnable. Hot soup at the end was awesome on a dreary day.

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

Smaller field meant lots of time running alone.

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

When you run on the beach, the rocks are very difficult to run on. Fortunately it’s only for a couple hundred yards. Enjoy the view while you’re down there!

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

I jumped in last minute as a training race with the goal of negative splitting. I missed this by a couple minutes, but still happy with the even effort. Wasn’t wrecked at end so that’s always a bonus.

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

The first couple miles and the tunnel miles you can run pretty freely. The uphill switchbacks are steep, but only take a couple minutes. No reason to kill yourself here. Power hike and have something to eat and get back at it.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Not much I would have done differently. Make sure you wear trail shoes to have any confidence on the single track and downhill portions. It wasn’t muddy, but road shoes would have been dicey.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Course is marked with ribbons and flour with directional arrows and X’s. Pay attention. It’s well marked, but if you don’t see a flag for awhile, you went the wrong way. Look for the X’s on the ground and don’t cross over them!

Photo: Takao Suzuki

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Both on the beach, on top in the neighborhoods and through the tree tunnel were all enjoyable to run. A few neighborhood crossings that aren’t monitored, but no traffic to deal with.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

If you’re trained for a road marathon, it can be a tough course. If you’ve done some trail prep, then it’s not technical or steep with only 2000′ in the full marathon.

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

Organized by Run Super on the old DuPont Marathon route. First time they’ve been the race organizer for this course and it was very well organized, as usual. One aid station on course and one at start/finish line so much more of an ultra type spacing vs. a road marathon. Great photos for free, good food/drink, nice medal and t-shirt included.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

A lot more people registered for the half, but with only 37 for the full it was pretty spread out. Most of the racing was done in the first half as people settled into their paces.

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.

Very easy to get into. Just register. Local race and plenty of free parking. Can get out of your vehicle 10 minutes before race.

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

Pretty standard fare, but nice to have warm soup at the end!

Weather and typical race conditions

At race start it was 35 degrees with a rain/snow mix. Precipitation stopped after about an hour. Plan for a long, wet day.

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

Trail shoes and dress to stay warm.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

The full is 2 loops so there is some opportunity. But I don’t think I saw a single spectator on course or at end. You’ll be sharing trails with walkers, runners etc.

How’s the Swag?

Standard T-Shirt and nice medal.

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

4/5 stars. It’s a great way to not have to run alone for a long run. I think the half would be fun to race.

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Report – Matt Hall

Race: Lake Sammamish Half

Runner: Matt Hall

Race Date: 03/04/2023

Location: Redmond, WA

Results: https://runsignup.com/Race/Results/87210

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/8660451360

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

  • Great Trail
  • Great Communication
  • Great Race Swag/Free Photos

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

First mile is narrow trail; got stuck behind slower people.

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

Part of route was under construction and detoured onto road (won’t be the case next year). In the last 2 miles there was a very sharp left hand turn through a puddle and mud.

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

Maintained target pace for full first half of race.
Was well rested/hydrated/fueled.

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

Start at the front of the pack if you plan on finishing sub 1:30.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Start a bit faster; I was running with a group for the first 4-5 miles but then they slowed down and I ended up in a big gap between runners

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

First mile is crowded but the rest of the course is very wide and open.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Very Pretty. Most of it is an old rail corridor and winding through parks

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Normally no, but the trail construction detour added a stupid big hill at mile 8.

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. Orca puts on a good race.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Very Competitive; Multiple people finished sub 1:10. Too competitive for my taste 😆

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.

Race sold out so make sure you register at least a month in advance.

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

Aid Stations are cupless; basically useless. They had a few goos and snacks but I stuck with my hand waterbottle

Weather and typical race conditions

Weather was way worse than normal; 35 and raining 😭

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Lots of good spectating spots along the course but it is a point to point so you have to drive.

How’s the Swag?

Swag is great. Super comfortable t-shirts. Nice handcrafted medals.

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

9/10. Definitely plan on doing every year. If they can figure out the first mile clog with some heats or something I’d give it a 10/10..

Richland Run Fest Half Marathon Race Report – Sarah Garza

Race: Richland Run Fest Half Marathon

Runner: Sarah Garza

Race Date: 02/25/2023

Location: Richland, Washington

Results: 1:56:10

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

No cars to worry about on the race path.

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

Too many out-and-backs (3 of them). Additionally, Richland has a lot of walking/bike paths that they could have chosen to keep the racecourse on, but I really didn’t like that they kept the course along the roads instead of the paths along the river. My suspicion is they wanted to add hills to the race, so they did what they did for that reason. But it didn’t make for great scenery.

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

Although I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, I still did a PR for my half marathon time.

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

Mile 8 was brutal. It got me! Keep your head in the race the whole time!

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Fuel and hydrate better for the cold weather.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

All of mile 8 is uphill.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Could have been better.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

The course itself is not overly difficult, however there are head games involved because it is a low-grade hilly course with 3 parts with out and backs on some of the steeper parts of the course. Plus, it was 19 degrees out!

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

Seemed pretty organized aside from the start of the race where they just counted down and shouted “GO!”

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Moderately competitive, but I’d say there were a number of strong runners in the bunch!

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.

The more the merrier!

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

Water, Gatorade, and gels.

Weather and typical race conditions

  • 19 Degrees F; no wind or snow though.
  • We had a cold snap this year, so normally I think it’s around 35-40 degrees out in Richland in February.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

My friends didn’t want to be in the cold!

How’s the Swag?

It’s OK – a medal and a long-sleeved hooded shirt for the 13.1 mile.

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

4/10. In the future I might do the 5k – unless they re-route the course along the Columbia River then I’ll reconsider!