I have to start out by saying that the above picture symbolizes all that is the Miwok 100k for me. It's the early morning hours when the muscles are vibrant and mind is still intact that help to sear such experiences into memory. Now, this is a little misleading because for the 5 previous Miwoks that I have participated in, this was our view for the first 4 miles. This year, due to a road closure in the park, runners were forced to run circles around the beach, hostel, and access roads before finally venturing onto a much more worthy trail. However, when people ask me where I am racing when I head down to SF, here's the vantage. Unbeatable!
Once again, a very stout collection of Rogue Valley Runners penned this event into their calendars back in December when it came time to enter the lottery. Some 400 slots were available, but they became closed and coveted in only a few hours. Carly, Jenn, Chris, Eric, and Darrin joined me, for this, the 15th anniversary of runners tacking 62 miles from Rodeo Beach to Olema and back.
Stinson Beach from high atop the Miwok Trail.
It was earlier in the week, on our Wednesday night group run, when I got to hear Jenn exclaim, "Hal, my heart is with you but my head is going with Tony." I would never let her know how redundant the thought was leading up to the race, but I will say it did provide a little extra incentive for me during my 8 hours on the trail.
Miwok has always been a great barometer for my training going into WS and in previous years I have entered the race on the heels of some of the toughest ultras in the country and many times with no rest. This year I was able to run with fresh legs and a ton of experience, usually a recipe for success. However, with a nagging ankle injury from the Lake Sonoma 50 miler I was a little worried that it would fatigue and not let me finish the race. Looking back, letting off the gas from the feverish pace early may have helped me to charge to one of the fastest times on this legendary course. Probably no chance of seeing that at Western States this year though.
Scott and Jen get me out of Bolinas Ridge, only a two tire stop, however once Jen asked me if I needed anything else Scott was short to answer, "no, GO GO GO." I'm still thinking about those pacing duties at WS.
The morning hours of the race were consumed with many pleasantry's and a few pompous acts of bravery. I truly enjoy running in with a loaded field, it adds another variable to the terrain, training, and mental taxation. It also separates the local and regional races from the elite ones and eventually puts everyone on edge. I made an early pit stop and that gave me some time to move through the pack of runners and assess how everyone was doing and what they had in store for the day. Many runners had splits for the low 8's and I was amazed considering this race used to be won by running under 9 hours. Never-the-less, we continued to push early and roll over the hillsides in search of pink ribbons and blue skies. I eased back on a merciless dual between Tony and Michal Wardian shortly after Muir Beach to allow for some time to catch my breath and find my own stride but I was quickly enveloped by Gary Robbins and Zach Gingerich both of which were running mere seconds per mile slower, nice job. I exclaimed to both of them that the real fun would begin on the climb to Pantoll (1,400ft in two miles) and I was happy to give it a go and gain some separation then. The climb seemed too easy and after finding myself all alone at the aid station I decided to roll and recover on the "flat" stretch to Bolinas and take in the views.
Eric Dinger heads out of Pan Toll at mile 21, some amazing scenery awaits.
Jenn and Renn into the land of the Teletubbies
The out and back section of trail/fire road from Bolinas Ridge to Randall is where champions are made, both figuratively and literally. I have done it all on this 12 mile gauntlet; rolled an ankle, run alone, run with the lead pack, dropped out, and have even been called Dean (that's the ultramarathon man for those of you that don't know.) I was proven wrong once again as the miles unfurled. I found my momentum at the turnaround and
after an amazing climb had run within minutes of 2nd place when it happened, my headphones went silent. Now, long story short, I had fallen into a river crossing at LS 50 and fried my ipod just last month, purchased 2 new ones in the meantime but had failed to question the reliability of my headphones that had been along for the ride. So here we were, closing in and still 30 miles from the finish with every other runner coming at down the same trail, ugghh (for lack of a better word.) After wrangling with them for what seemed an eternity I was left to run, not in stereo as I am so accustomed but in mono sound with one headphone screeching with every stride. It dealt me a blow, but as soon as I saw others trudging on and with a quick kiss with my little lady who was flying along I resumed my stride and moved into second place.
Of course there was the hope that I might find another gear and catch Tony, or that he would succumb to the heat and keep me company through the excruciating final miles but that was only wishful thinking. In reality it was the guys right behind me, Rod and Mike and Nathan and whomever hadn't finished the Miwok 50. I really wanted a fast time and was happy to be running so well with no such expectations. In the end, an 8:20 and the fourth fastest time ever proved monumental. I was happy to get the chance to watch everyone arrive; Jenn and Chris, 10:15, Eric, 10:55, Darrin, 11:37, and Carly, 12:01. Such an effort- all around. I do hope that next month Jenn's heart catches up with her head and we have one heck of a time racing down in California cause I'm certainly done until then.
Ahhh, which way to the libations?
I was stoked to see that Tony hadn't showered and changed clothing.
Krissy makes sure Carly can still stand, different than running and easy for the legs to forget after 12 hours.
Darrin, Carly, Jenn and Chris all smiles.
The joys of participating in a prominent ultra, a reunion of sorts and thanks for waking up and joining us Chris.
I would be remiss if I didn't give a little shout out to some of my listening pleasure on the trails. A tribute to the Riding the Wind blog and it's author ( as he loves to showcase quality music and always beats me to the punch.) A little reminder that I will be back in stereo for WS.