Runner: Pavel Ivanov
Race Date: 04/23/2022
Location: Auburn, CA
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/7034313399
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- The course is amazing. Spectacular views of the canyons, the American River and other water features sometimes flowing somewhere far below and sometimes right near the trail (and sometimes on the trail, which of course is not that pleasant).
- When I was running the weather was great too. When sun went out of the clouds, it felt rather hot, but not hot enough to require ice to continue running. But I’ve heard that this was not a common weather for this race, usually it’s hotter.
- The fact that this race goes for about 48 miles on the same course as the Western States Endurance Run (but in the opposite direction) gives it a special charm. You can look around and imagine how the runners of Western States see and feel these parts of the course during their race.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
The last 5 or so miles were on a high elevation. It was high enough to have lots of snow around, but since the temperatures in the day were warm, the snow was melting creating a lot of mud and puddles on the trail. So you have to get in peace with being wet and constantly stepping ankle-deep into puddles. If you don’t (like me unfortunately), then you will have a very miserably-feeling finish, being very frustrated constantly looking for the cleanest and the driest way around all those puddles. And the only way around the puddles might be through the snow, which is not that dry of a path either. Note also that if you are back-of-the-packer like me, then you’ll go through these last 5 miles in the dark and it will be very cold (again if the weather is the same as it was on my race day), which only adds to the feeling of misery unless you conquer this mental challenge properly. Another warning (that I didn’t realize at the race): the sounds from the finish line are heard for a long way away. So if you’ve just heard the finish line announcer and think “I must be almost at the finish”, that’s wrong. You still likely need to go 5-6 more miles, and you better to expect that to not be disappointed.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
There are a lot of places (probably on the order of 15-20) where you need to cross some water stream, and there are no rocks or trees to hop on to stay dry. There’s even one pretty strong stream that you need to cross knee-deep (there is a rope that helps you to stay on your feet). This is somewhat unpleasant, so you need to be prepared for that. It’s especially unpleasant when it happens when it’s already dark and becoming cold.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Besides soaking in the many amazing views, I personally really enjoyed long downhill runs when I could turn on my inner Kilian Jornet and charge downhill as fast as possible jumping between rocks and roots. It was great to find a nice rhythm of going on a long uphill as well, and relentlessly move forward with that rhythm setting up pace for those going behind me, and then feel victorious when we finally reached the top. I didn’t feel like that on all uphills, but when I did get into that state, it felt like an awesome achievement.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Beware of the high elevation at the finish. High elevation means there’s a high probability of snow (and water) on the ground and much lower temperatures than what the forecast tells you for the starting point at Auburn. So if you have time, maybe try to get to the finish area in the evening of the day before the race (it’s about 40 minutes drive from the start) to get some feel of what is the situation with snow and temperatures there to understand what to expect on the race day.
Note also that the first aid station is located in some area where it is colder than at the start line, even though you come there after an hour or two of running. So you might want to have some sleeves and gloves for this initial part too to not get too cold.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
It is a very pretty course. You’d want to come and visit it again.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Many parts of the course are very tough with a very steep climb. It’s especially grueling in the beginning of the last climb out of El Dorado Canyon (9 or so miles before the finish).
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, I didn’t see any snags. Just as it should be since the race now carries the name of UTMB World Series.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Since I was running through the aid stations pretty close to the cut-off times, I’ve seen them running out of some types of food, but otherwise everything seemed rather standard.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
Poles were a life-saver for me. I’ve seen a lot of runners doing all these climbs without poles, but I honestly don’t know how they did that, they definitely deserve an admiration.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
It’s a little bit weird that spectators/crew are allowed to be at 3 different aid stations throughout the first 40 miles of the course, but then you have to run through the hardest 20 miles of the course without seeing any spectators. And it’s a very long waiting time for the crew before they’ll see you at the finish line. But on the plus side two of those three aid stations (which are also the finish lines for 25K and 50K races) have shuttles that can get spectators to the parking near the start and back. So if they want, your crew can meet you two times without having a car or searching for parking (though my crew didn’t have any problems with parking either).
How’s the Swag?
You can buy a Canyons t-shirt with your name on it (among all of other participant names), which is pretty cool.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
I definitely recommend others to run this race.
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