Monday, June 16, 2014

Trail Quake 2014 race review

My 4th race in the Brazen Racing Ultra Half Series was the Trail Quake in San Born County Park on June 14th. One more race to go and I will have completed the required 5 races and then it is on to the championship race at Rocky Ridge in October. I remember chatting with a guy at Rocky Ridge 2 years ago about how difficult the race was and he started listing off a few that might be just as hard if not even more difficult. The two I remember him mentioning were the Diablo Trails Challenge and the Trail Quake over in Saratoga.

I've ran in most of the parks around Sanborn but never Sanborn itself. That area of the Santa Cruz mountains is beautiful. The single track trails are under the canopy of a fairly dense forest. Redwoods and vista views are everywhere. I anticipated Sanborn County Park to be much the same. It was. I also anticipated this being a really difficult race. It was.

The course is basically a "T" shape. You run up the long stem of the T which is made up of Peterson Memorial Trail starting out and Sanborn Trail as you make your way up the mountain. That's a monster climb for about 2.5 miles that gains almost 1600'. That is more than half the climbing in the first 1/4 of the race. At the intersection of the T you turn left onto Skyline Trail for the shorter of 2 out and back sections. The first section continues to climb up the mountain but not as severely as Sanborn Trail. Skyline Trail is about 1.5 miles out to the turnaround. When you get back to Sanborn Trail you start the 2nd out and back section on Summit Rock Loop Trail. This leg is just as "rolling" as the first out and back but lasts for nearly twice as long. The route back down to the start is slightly different than the climb up. You arrive back at the intersection of the "T" and start slamming downhill on Sanborn Trail. Soon you swerve left onto San Andreas Trail which is still all downhill but the trail has turned to switchbacks. Really tight and technical switchbacks that make it hard to keep speeds up. When the trail bottoms out you are about a quarter to a half mile from the finish line and that is the longest run of your life!

I really enjoyed running this course but I would caution runners that these trails are very technical in terms of narrow single track combined with lots of rocks and roots. I rolled my ankle (all the way over!) at mile 11 and that is a rarity for me. If you get tired in the latter half of the race you will likely fail to pick your feet up high enough and consequently catch a toe or like me, roll an ankle on a bad landing. My ankles are insanely resilient so I just kept kickin it. A less adapted trail runner would be limping out of the woods for the next 2 miles. Be careful.
Near the finish of the Trail Quake 2014

Brazen Races are always top notch. It almost feels redundant and unnecessary to say that the aid stations were fully stoked, the volunteers were super nice, plenty of bathrooms were available and the medals, post race food and immediate results postings made this a great event as usual.

I finished this race in 2:32:54 which was 44th place out of 164 overall runners. For my age group I was 8th out of 25 in the M40-44 age group. The winner of the race was Nick Scalfone in 1:39:01 for the men and Justine Owen for the women in 2:16:16. Complete race results can be seen here. The current standings in the Ultra Half Series can be seen here. The next race for me in the Ultra Half Series will be the Bad Bass in late July over at Lake Chabot in Castro Valley.