Race: Tiger Claw
Runner: Anson F
Race Date: 05/04/2019
Location: Issy Alps (Tiger Mountain, WA)
Results: 58th OA
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2341883675
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- Choose Your Own Adventure! Which of the three loops will you do first? Where are the other runners on the course? Did I make the right choices in which loops to do when?
- The location. The Issy Alps are so beautiful, and with three different loops to the top it was a different race each time on the course.
- The execution. Ethan and Kim and all the volunteers did a great job putting this on. Couldn’t tell it was the first year of Tiger Claw, let alone their first race as RDs.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
The only pre-race packet pick up was in Issaquah…on a Friday night…from 5-8pm. For people not on the east side this is almost a non-starter for pre-race pick up. Perhaps a Thursday pick-up opportunity in Seattle would be helpful. Fortunately it was easy to get the packets on race-day morning.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Booping! You have to “clock in and out” of each loop (your tracker makes a “boop” sound on each check in/out). I completely understand why they do this, and it’s a great way to keep track of your splits, but it was new to me for sure. Also a good safety check to ensure everyone is off the course and not stuck somewhere on one of the three routes.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I did the loops in white-yellow-pink and that worked out fine for me. Really none of them are easy. You’re gaining almost 8,000′ of elevation in 21+ miles, so yeah, they’re all difficult.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
If you can I would get out to Tiger and run the routes before the race. The Pink loop is more runnable than you think. The Yellow loop is longer than you think. And the descent is trickier than you think, or at least it was for me. It’s pretty rocky at the top then turns to hard-packed dirt and rocks, which if you don’t pick up your feet enough will send you flying (and potentially into day hikers as the trails are open the public during the race and are very popular!)
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Push it harder. I was probably too conservative with my efforts on the climbs as I didn’t want to be wiped out for the final descent. That being said I could have pushed harder on the climbs, especially the first and second ones, and likely have done better than I did. Lesson learned!
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
It helps if you are familiar with the loops and have a plan, but be flexible. If you want to do the Yellow loop first and there are a lot of people heading that way maybe a different loop with fewer people will be better for you. Have a plan A, but be prepared with B, C, and D, too.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Gorgeous. It’s Tiger Mountain!
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
For me, yes. Shorter than a marathon but a lot of climbing! And descending 8,000′ in about nine miles (collectively) isn’t easy, either.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Super well run. Ethan and Kim are amazing, and the volunteers were incredible. The course was super well marked, too, with some flashes of humor to keep a smile on your face along the way.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Sure seemed strong to me! The top men and women were amazingly fast (!) but overall the competition seemed pretty good. But of course everyone is super nice.
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 it did sell out. Ginger Runner Patreon supporters had access to an early-bird registration link.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Standard aid station goodies available at the top and bottom, so you’re never too far from help!
Weather and typical race conditions
On this day the weather was ahhhh-mazing. Sunny, cloudless, and perfect running temps. In May in Seattle it could also be 42 and rain. So be prepared for anything.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Nothing special needed.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Yes, I think so. The trails are open so people can hike to the top and cheer you on as you come through, or hang at the aid station/lower trails and high-five you as you come down each time, too. Plenty of spaces to show your support.
How’s the Swag?
Awesome. Nice t-shirt, some stickers, a patch, free french fries (!), and the finishers medal is awesome. Truly one-of-a-kind.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
11/10! Kim and Ethan, et al., crushed it. 10/10 for a great event and an extra point for killer weather.