Chuckanut 50K was going to be an epic race this year. In it’s 25th year running, this mountain trail race out of quaint Fairhaven, has a long history of attracting some of the best runners from around the country. So, naturally, this year I signed up to run the epic race by Bellingham. Qualifiers for the IAU Trail World Championships for both the US and Canada ensured that I wasn’t the only highflying trail runner in this year’s line up, heh.
It’s early March again in the Pacific Northwest. This time around, it’s still snowing even on the lower trails. making for an entertaining Mountain Marathon and Hillbilly Half up Rock Candy mountain in the Capitol Forest near Olympia, WA. Why the race directors didn’t name the races “Rock Candy” is beyond me. It would be such a perfect name for a trail race. But no matter the name, this is still one of my favorite races all year and my goal is to bring someone to the race every year. This year it was another one of my awesome sister-in-laws, next year I am grabbing Douglas. Be warned.
I was nine miles in on a 17.8 mile race, struggling to breath. Climbing up the flank of Lone Peak, 11,000 feet above my home at sea level, I began to question my sanity. Here I was, 500 miles from the comforts of my own bed and my own mountains, racing against time and my negative thoughts to complete a goal I had started eight months earlier. Every step was impossibly steep and the struggle to try to walk on laptop sized chucks of loose scree slowed my pace down to a snails crawl. Positive thoughts had left long ago and I was ready to quit.
I had been impatiently waiting and obsessively training for the Squamish50 race for over a year. In the foothills of the mountains around Squamish BC, less than an hour north of Vancouver at about the halfway point to Whistler on the Sea to Sky highway, the Squamish 50k course exudes beauty. It is also held in a beautiful location that I had long wanted to explore with my family. As a bonus, completing Squamish would give me my first points toward a crazy goal of mine, getting the entry requirements for UTMB Mont Blanc, the greatest Ultra race in the world.
Guerrilla Running’s Hillbilly Half in the Capitol Forest, located outside Olympia, Washington, was my first race and I fell in love with it. This year, I returned to Rock Candy Mountain to prove myself by doubling the distance. This year, instead of the “easy” 13.1 miles, I decided to run the Mountain Marathon. This race is a full marathon distance of 26miles (42km), but gains 5,500 ft. of elevation. The Mountain Marathon is no run-of-the-mill marathon.
Last Saturday I ran my first trail race of the New Year.
The Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass takes place just outside Olympia, Washington, in Capitol Forest every January. The weather was, as always, cold, wet, muddy, a bit miserable and a lot of fun. The race crew tried to convince us that we had good trail conditions this year. We naively sort of believed them.
Two days ahead of the race I looked at myself in the mirror and asked: Was I nervous?
I remember as a kid, while playing team sports and competing in tournaments, being horribly nervous. I always had such a huge ball of butterflies in my stomach, I could never reach my normal, everyday performance. I hated competing.