Race: White River 50 Mile
Runner: Daisy C
Location: Near Crystal Mountain Resort outside Greenwater, WA
Results: Favorable, given I had a couple of time sucks. 12:17 and change.
On this particular day I would have to say the weather was perfect. Low 70’s, a nice breeze, sunny. I had done a training run there on the first half of the course during a rainy day, so having seen the trails muddied and slippery it was a real treat to run on dry, grippy dirt throughout.
The views at the tops of the major climbs will take your breath away.
The aid station crews were great. As soon as I approached someone was checking off my bib number and a volunteer would be there before I knew it with my drop bag ready. Super organized! Plus, so many of my trail running friends were volunteering in addition to Team Urbanski members being there to show support. So nice to see familiar faces!
Not so much:
There was nothing about this race that was a bummer, except for my uncanny ability to trip and fall four times. I swear there were gremlins out there!
It’s a beautiful, challenging course. Every climb rewards you with spectacular views. It is tough and satisfying. No matter how hard I thought a section was it pushed you to keep working. Having many friends and TU teammates running felt good too. I got to see both Ricardo and Dave coming up to Corral Pass, and that was a huge confidence boost. I was also representing for my team Oiselle, and a lot of people yelled out to me on course in support of the Volee. I ran the last 8 miles with another Oiselle teammate.
This is not a course for beginners. I am certain I wouldn’t have done as well if this was my first 50 miler. Of course, I can only speak to my own experience. Everyone is different. But if you want to do this race, then you need to do the training runs and prepare for the climbs in your training. They will break you. You need to break down the course into sections and run them with patience. I had a hard time getting through the sweet, technical Ranger Creek portion. It is the 5 mile of down from Corral Pass that just screams at you to run it fast. It is some of the nicest switchback around. Gravity begs you to lean in and enjoy the ride, but if you do that you will have no legs left for the Sun Top climb and Skookum flats. I literally had to hold back the whole time knowing what was ahead, and it paid off.
Mt. Rainier views, sweet PNW canopied trails, creeks, chipmunks, and wildflowers.
I consider this an intermediate trail race. 10,000 feet of elevation gain is pretty formidable. The trails are not super technical, but enough so that you need to prepare well in advance if you want to run it well and come out of it having had a good time.
This is a very competitive race. It attracts some fast folks. The female winner (and 4th overall) is the world title 100k holder. I’m just an old lady having fun. I was pleased to finish 5th (of 15) in my age group (50-59).
Great aid stations with the usual fare. At every station that I had a drop bag it was either handed to me as soon as I arrived, or someone found it quickly for me. I had friends volunteering at every station, so that was especially nice to see people who knew what I was going through and attended to my needs. Josh and Dave took great care of me at Buck Creek!
Weather and typical race conditions:
This is the PNW, so you should expect nearly any type of weather. This year was near perfect. It never got above mid 70’s and much of the trail is forested, so you get a lot of respite from the sun. Sun Top was the warmest section, but it actually felt good to me.
I wore my Salomon Sense Lab vest and hydration bladder. I never had more than 1.5 liters in it at a time, because the aid stations are pretty close. Next year I will just use soft bottles in front to lower weight. I had trained wearing everything exactly as I did on race day. This is Urbanski law. It works! Nothing about my gear went afoul. Well, except for my Julbo sunglasses tumbling down a steep forest wall into the abyss. No chafing, no rubbing, nothing. I recommend grippy shoes. I wore Altra Olympus 2.0. I dig cushion on these longer efforts, plus they have a knobby Vibram sole perfect for every type of footing the trail presented from soft pine needles to rocks, slippery creeks and hard packed gravel road. There were quite a few folks using poles. I could see using them on some of the climbs, but I would need to train with them to acclimate.
The only crew access is at Buck Creek and Skookum. This was fine for me, as it allows spectators time to get from the start and back in time. And your supporters can see you at mile 27, 43 and finish.
The Overall Score:
A solid 5+ (of 5). This is my favorite race so far. My hardest, my most satisfying effort. It has beauty, challenging terrain and is well organized. It showcases everything that makes the PNW trail community so special. You can camp at the race location or choose to get a hotel at Crystal Mountain or rent a local cabin. I highly recommend this race and I will be there next year to run smarter, faster and see what challenges it presents.
To read a more detailed race report from Daisy, check out her post that we put on Urbyville, which we called, Why we Run. Thank you to Daisy for sharing all these wonderful race reports.