Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Marin Ultra Challenge 25k

Last Saturday was the finale of yet another adventure created by the Ragnar Relay last October.   Basically, in training for Ragnar I was doing more running than cycling and some friends took advantage of this to call me out to join them in the Marin Ultra Challenge.  This is a tough trail race with 25k (15.5 miles), 50k, and 50 mile distances.

It started when Pat decided to run the 50k.  Jennifer, who also ran Ragnar, decided to run the 25k.  She’s the one who called me out, on Facebook no less, so the next thing I know I’m registered for the 25k.  Lastly, my brother-in-law Mike decided to join Pat in the 50k run.

Race profile!!!
This was definitely going to be a challenge.  Not only had I never tried a 25k before but this race also included 3,000 feet of climbing over three monster hills.  Fortunately, I like running hills so this wasn’t as intimidating for me as others but I would still need to train if I was going to have a good day.  And by good day, I mean simply finishing.

A week before the race Mother Nature provided a surprise.  After a beautiful February, March started with the formation of an atmospheric river.  Put simply, an atmospheric river means lots and lots of rain.  We received 6.5 inches of rain in the seven days leading up to the race and the weather for race day called for strong winds and heavy rain.

We started at the beach below.
On race day, Mike, Jennifer, and I got to the start around 7:30 a.m.  Mike wasn’t feeling it that week so he decided to “only” run the 25k.  Pat was already on the course since he started at 6:00.  At 8:00 it began to rain and the wind increased.  As we all donned rain gear I was thinking this was going to be interesting.

Then something strange happened.  Just before we started running, the rain stopped.  One mile into the run I was starting to get too hot so I took off the rain jacket and tied it around my waist.  That’s where it stayed until the end since it didn’t rain on us once the whole race.  The wind however was fierce averaging 20 mph with gust over 30 mph while we were on the course.

Ran up these steps, twice!!!
I had decided to stay with Jennifer so we settled in and continued the first climb.  While it started out gently enough it finished with some very steep sections including two sections of stairs.  Then, it was down the back side, over some rollers, and then a long descent back to the start.  We then got to go up the same hill again although we approached the bottom half from a different direction.

After getting over the hill for the second time we are both feeling ok as we make our way to the second aid station, which was at the 10 mile point.  As we were coming in, Pat was heading out so we stayed with him as we made our way up the third, and hardest climb of the day.  Once over the top, where the wind was at its worse, Pat took off while Jennifer and I continued our steady pace to the end.
Finishing with "wind" hair :)

We crossed the finish line at 3:11.  Although I was tired, I felt pretty good overall.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t the climbs that got to me as much as the descents, which were just as steep.  Mike finished 1-hour ahead of us and was third in his age group, which was very cool.  After a bit of hanging around, Mike and I headed home with a stop for lunch at a brew pub along the way.  

Overall, it was a great event made even better by great friends.  And that’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.


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