…at the 2008 Old Goats 50M/50K
Akos Konya (8:18:49) shattered David Dean and Ashley’s shared winning times from last year, as temperatures soared into the 90’s — both stats were entered in the record books. Keira Henninger (9:08:10), who was second fastest last year, managed to do the same again, but became first overall female. Ted Liao (9:38:57), was 3rd, and Jonas Hansen (9:40:04) came in 4th overall. To round out the top 5, yours truly, managed to cross the finish line next — my time, unofficially 10:12, only seconds slower than last year (10:11:49), on a hotter day and more difficult course. [Note: turned out my official time was 10:08:25, beating last year’s time by a little over 3 minutes.]
The temperatures leading up to the race were unseasonably warm — no, it was HOT, with thermometers reading in the 80’s. Race day would be no different, evident as we stood waiting for the 6am start without any extra layers of clothing — ultimately, it would reach a high in the low 90’s, which I believe accounted for the slower times, and several runners cutting the course short from 50M to 50K.
This year, we (50 milers) would start along side the 50K runners, so I made sure to not get too caught up in their pace, but of course I didn’t listen to myself, and stayed near Greg and Eric a couple speedsters from OC. The first 10 miles was a fast downhill to the Candy Store, and I made the turn-around in about 1.5 hours. I saw Bill Ramsey at the aid, just before starting the climb back up to Blue Jay (3300′) — he would later man the Bear Springs station. I made it back up in about 3.5 hours, and learned I was 17th overall (which included both 50K/50M runners). Now it was time for the long exposed 2.5 mile climb up Main Divide to the top of Trabuco (4000′).
I looked forward to getting back on single track again, and started down the Trabuco trail towards the Holy Jim aid, which was located just beyond the half way point (27.5 miles @ 1710′). Somewhere along the 2300′ rocky descent, I caught a runner, and found out it was Eric. We reached the 50K turnoff at Horse Thief together, where we wished each other well and parted ways. Not too long afterwards, I ran into Doug (Michelle’s dad), who took my picture, and told me I was 7th overall — Akos not surprisingly in the lead, and Keira on his heels in second, who was “tapering” for Leona next weekend.
After exiting the trailhead, I caught and passed two runners along the fireroad leading to Holy Jim — I managed to move up to 5th. Exactly 5 hours into the race, I arrived at the aid station, then 3 runners who were behind me all arrived at the same time, so I quickly left, because I knew the climb up Holy Jim would slow me down. Last year, I bonked hard along this stretch, and was afraid of a relapse, not to mention the effects of the heat, which had already impacted my performance. Then just before I hit the trailhead, I was passed by a runner, which dropped me back down to 6th. I tried staying with him, but couldn’t maintain his pace — the other 2 I knew were close behind me, and thought for sure they’d catch me on the ascent.
Surprisingly, I held my position, and made it up to Main Divide (mile 32.5 @ 4000′) in about 1:40 (6:40 into the race), where I saw Bill again, then headed up to the high point of the course, not to mention all of OC — Santiago Peak (5600′). This was the same climb (about 4000′ in 7.5 miles — similar to our Bailey Cyn to Mt Wilson ascent back home) we had to do at Twin Peaks early last year, and interestingly enough, it was unseasonably hot then too. I saw Ted and Jonas (3rd/4th respectively) on the short out-and-back between Upper Holy Jim and the top, but they were too far ahead to catch. The 5th place runner was still nowhere to be seen though, so figured I was closing in. Once I saw the volunteer at the pickup truck, he said I’d see the turn-around sign up ahead, and would check me off on the return. I got to the peak, right at the base of the antennas at 7:30, but didn’t see the runner in front of me. Somehow he missed the sign (don’t know how), and continued past it. I told the volunteer, and he went to go find him — so now I was in 5th place due to his error.
I started my descent, and hit my favorite section of the course — Upper Holy Jim, and into Bear Springs (mile 38), where I would see Bill again before heading back to the finish. After a few rolling hills and a short climb, I was at Trabuco Peak — 8 more miles to go. From there to the Trabuco trailhead where we were almost 25 miles ago, I slowed significantly, and realized my goal of getting under 10 hours would probably not happen. So instead of focusing on a time goal, I wanted to try and maintain my position. I continuously looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was approaching, and being able to get a good view of the Main Divide behind me as it wound its way over the ridge across the Santa Anas helped.
I made it to the top of Trabuco at around 9:45, so was definitely not going to make it under 10, since it was still 3 miles to the finish. As I ran down, I continued to glance back occasionally to see if anyone had gained any ground, but even though I didn’t see anyone, I maintained my pace, since it was very easy to make up a lot of time during that fast downhill stretch. After reaching the blacktop, and looking up the Divide for the last time and seeing no one, I was pretty certain I would maintain my 5th place position — I did, and finished in 10:12.
With over 12,000′ of climbing, the OG50M is definitely one of the harder 50 mile courses out there, and with temperatures in the 90’s, it would also probably rank as one of my more difficult races to date.
Next week will be Leona Divide — I’ll be running the whole race with Catra (who ran Diablo on the same day), and it’ll be our first 50 miler together. Relative to OG (12000′) and Diablo (13000′), Leona is going to feel pretty flat with only 9000′ of climbing.
Official results and photos here.