Race: White River 50
Runner: Jeff K
Location: Crystal Mountain, WA
Results – 8:41:50, 14th place overall, 3rd Masters
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
- White River was my first ultra and first trail race that Mark Cliggett and I did kind of on a dare. It will always be a special race for me.
- Scott McCoubrey and his volunteer crew are amazing. Its hard to find a better race.
- Its super challenging and feels great to finish it.
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
There is not much I don’t like, but the course is difficult to race manage. If you go too slow, you can feel great but have a crappy time. Conversely, you can blow up rather quickly if you push it too hard early on.
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
The Canyons race I did back in April had the same bad conditions as White River – really hot, slower times, and high percentage of DNFs. I can’t seem to catch a break from it.
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
The start of the race was chill, and fitting for an expected hot day of running. The lead pack were pushing ahead, but not totally blazing. I think that set the tone that it was going to be about good race management.
I hiked the places I planned on the first climb and it felt like it went by quickly. I was running with a couple runners for the first 6-7 miles, then we got spaced out. A shirtless guy with a safari hat passed me on the top of the ridge, but other than that, I did not see any other runners until after the loop around point when I was going against the flow of traffic. I didn’t see anyone after the downhill Ranger Creek except for a single runner who was going really slow, and appeared to have some type of injury, or had just blown up way too early.
The climb to Fawn Ridge is where things went south. The fatigue from the heat set in and I had to walk. I decided I’ll just have to “roll with the slow”. It was the only thing I could do to try to make it to the aid station to cool down. Putting ice in my hat and pack made for a better second half climb. I still had to walk, but I wasn’t dead yet. The safari hat guy was off to the side of the trail and it looked like he was puking, and that made me feel better that I wasn’t in that place yet. I ran the faster downhill sections to the final road crossing and passed the dudes that had passed me going up this climb. The half mile slog up to suntop went super slow, but rewarded with more ice and water to cool down.
The run down the road was a lot better than the climbing and I made it under 45 minutes. I spent a little bit more time at Skookum aid station. About 4 other runners started stacking up at that station, so I took off. I could run slowly for most sections and wasn’t passed by anyone (except for Uli who was just out there running around), but I wasn’t fast enough to pass anyone.
My finish time was way slower than I had expected but didn’t care. It was only about 10 minutes that separated me from getting the 1st place overall masters. The runner who won it, and who I had a 10 minute gap after the first loop, had passed me about a mile after Fawn Ridge and I just couldn’t get it back. The awards ceremony they did was great and my boys got to pick out the grab bag gift. Then, posed for a TRR team picture to cap it off. Great day.
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- The more course specific training you can do the better. It is a big time commitment if you live in Seattle, but if you can make it work, get down there and run on the course.
- I’d go with slightly larger shoes than aren’t super tight. The sustained downhill can really beat up your toes.
- On a hot day, taking the time to cool off, if you can find a creek to dip your hat, or the aid station will really help you
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
- A rough patch on a long race doesn’t necessarily mean race over. If you manage it well, you can end up with a good result.
- Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
- Unless you are a multi-year veteran of White River, take advantage of the organized preview runs to plan out where you need to hike and what sections you can run.
The top finishers get prize money. There were also really cool gifts for category winners. I received this cool owl luminary made of pottery, a Wapiti Woolies hat (my favorite place in Greenwater), and a framed picture with a Glen T. photo.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
Five out of Five. Definitely. It is a northwest classic ultra.