Sunday, 5 May 2013

Mini Miwok 100k

This year's Miwok 100k in Marin County, north of San Francisco, was full of surprises. Although it's no longer a Montrail Ultracup race with entry spots for Western States 100, it still had a few fast men and women to make the leading times very competitive.

Temperatures have been high in California for a few weeks and there are forest fires near LA currently. Unfortunately, late in the evening on the night before Miwok the authorities in charge of the permit for a section of the race revoked permission to use their trails due to there being a danger of fires starting in the heat. So race director, Tia Boddington, had to make last minute changes to the course that adjusted the start time from 5am to 8am and the distance from 100k to about 60k.

Just before the post-dawn, adjusted start

Although a lot of people were disappointed with the reduced distance, we were pretty much all glad to be able to race at all. At first I didn't think it'd affect the pace a whole lot since 60k in the heat isn't much easier than what the 100k that was expected. That wasn't the case since it started off more like a 10k trail race up the Dipsea Trail from Stinson Beach.

Early miles. Photo by San Francisco Running Company.

Dylan Bowman and Gary Gellin shot up the climb and were out of sight by the first aid station at 3 miles. Over the 7,700ft of ascent and 37.2 miles of the course they held on to a hard pace and battled it out. Around half way I was 4-5 mins back from Dylan who'd managed to gap Gary slightly, plus I felt like I'd paced things about right to that point and was starting to catch them marginally on the downhill and flat few miles near to Rodeo Beach.

At that point I was directed past a turning and kept running along the road to Rodeo Beach despite a lack of course markings. I'd have questioned it sooner if I'd not just been shown the way but did eventually turn around after asking multiple tourists if they'd seen any runners come through, which added to the time a little as I tried to find markings anywhere that might show I was going the right way.

Once I followed my tracks back I saw the turning and saw other runners going the right way, but I was now several places further back and lost around 11 minutes according to my Garmin. With somewhere around 17-18 miles to go I knew there was no way to catch the leaders unless they dropped or got lost so it became a training run from that point.

Looking back along the trail at Pirates Cove

The benefit of that was the prettiest sections (in my opinion) of the course were coming up ahead at Pirates Cove so I was able to take in the views a little more rather than busting a gut through that section. It wasn't easy by any means in the heat but it was more enjoyable to take it a little easier. Since the heat and miles were starting to get to the runners I gained a few spots to finish in 4th in 5:15 with Dylan taking the win in 4:49 and Gary not far behind, then my coaching client, Chris Wehan in 3rd in 5:04. Full results on Ultrasignup. Darcy Africa took the women's race in 6:05.

It was a fun day as always for races in Marin and Tia did a great job of making the race happen despite the last minute difficulties. Runs like this make me very glad to be back in the Bay Area, although Dylan and I were both a little concerned that the early season high temperatures and low snow levels in the High Sierra might lead to a big fire season out there. From a selfish viewpoint, one of the affects of that might be fires canceling Western States.

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