Friday, 16 December 2011

Deception Pass 50k Race Report

Deception Pass 50k Race Report

(Race Director James Varner running on the course. -photo: Glenn Tachiyama)

Deception Pass 50k held in Deception Pass State Park in Oak Harbor, WA turned out to be a fun little run for me on December 10, 2011. The last time I ran one of James Varners' events was up in that same general area at Orcas Island a couple years ago. I know that James is notorious for finding really beautiful spots for his races, and that he throws in some difficult sections on the course whether it be some steep climbs, technical trails, or a combination of both. The inaugural year at Deception Pass did not disappoint.

I woke up at like 5a.m. on Saturday morning and upon walking outside I see a couple runners looking at the lunar eclipse taking place. Unreal! Not sure if I ever have seen it before, but I was convinced it was going to be a good day. Then I get to race headquarters and get my number...222...the woman tells me to play the lottery and I joke that I am already playing...The Western States 100 Lottery!

The race started early on the beach and quickly disappeared into some lush singletrack trails. It was difficult to get a grasp of who was running the 50k or who was running the 25k. I kept asking runners that I came upon from behind and was surprised when a handful of the them were in the longer race. Fast pace...I was holding back a bit and eventually they started coming back to me as we hit some climbs. The environment was so enjoyable...The combination of the sea, trails, bridges (stonework), and the fact that there were some "lollipop" loops gave us opportunities to see friends multiple times throughout the run.

This Pacific Northwest community of trail runners is one of the reasons I wanted to head up to the race as well. It's really low-key and a good vibe without all the hype and pressure of some of the bigger races I have coming up, or that I have run in the past year.

Back to the race...While crossing the famous bridge I couldn't help but look down despite the dizzying height and optical illusions w/ the swirling sea below. Just as I did so I saw a huge Osprey catch an air pocket and let out a loud screech as it was looking for breakfast. Pretty cool. Another amazing part of my run is when I was traversing some lower trails next to the sea...I look over to see a huge majestic bald eagle sitting on a branch that was protruding out of the water close to shore. It looked at me with a tilted head and we definitely had a moment....Really cool!

The next couple hours involved some strong running through deceptively (pun intended) tough trails. Nothing too long but short steep climbs and descents, and some technical, rocky, and rooty singletrack trails...Very beautiful and definitely worth the trip up....and I still haven't gotten to the good part yet!

After about three and a half hours I find that I'm in first place (after briefly getting off course for a few minutes). Local runner Jason Hynd helped me get back going in the right direction and then I had to fight my way away from them again (Jason and Jon from Canada).

Finally I make my way to the finish line and as I am turning into the chute along the coast line I see my friend Laura Houston running toward me. She pulls up right next to me and with a big smile says, "I want to be the first to tell you...You got picked to run Western States 100!"

Woooohooooo Yesssssss!!!!!! I was so happy!!!!! I started yelling and pumping my fist in the air (I've tried to get in this race for the last couple years and no luck)...and after seeing my friend Andrea I crossed the finish line in 4:16. What a great surprise and a double bonus :) I'll always remember that Laura....Thank you!

(Just finding out that I got picked in the Western States Lottery! -photo: Andréa Mellalieu-French)

We all hung out afterward and thoroughly feasted on the generous spread of food (the vegan soup was soooo good...thank you!). I hung out and waited for a guy I coach (Steve) to finish and was excited to see him come in feeling strong. It was really great to see and catch up with many at this race held in such an amazing part of the world. James and Candice put on a good party that just happens to have a race attached....Thank you guys for all your hard work...and thanks to Lars, Laura, and all the other volunteers who helped us out. Really appreciate it!

Then I was off to the next adventure!...which was picking my buddy Joe Grant up at Port Angeles and heading into Olympic National Park for a couple days. You can read all about what we got into on his amazing website that has pictures that will blow you away.

Click HERE to read about our adventure in Olympic National Park on Joe Grant's website.

Click HERE to access the results from Deception Pass 50k.

Good times...and great seeing everyone out there! Now it's time to get ready for Bandera 100k which is shaping up to be a super competitive race down in Texas....Thankfully I don't have to worry about qualifying for Western States...The stars aligned for me while running Deception Pass!

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