A few words that jump to my mind to describe this course are: steep, rugged, rocky, brutal, and steep. Did I mention steep? Apparently switchbacks are out of style in Yakima, because these trails seemed to march straight up the hill, no matter how steep the grade. I believe there was somewhere close to 10,000 ft vertical over the 31 mile course and the day was warm – highs in the low 80’s. This made for a very challenging day. I went out strong and at the halfway point was still feeling good. I knew that I was within shooting range of the top ten at that point, and I had hopes of running the second half as fast or faster than the first half. That, however, was not to be. The heat of the day combined with dehydration and muscle fatigue caused me to run the second half 30 min slower than the first half and I ended up finishing 14th overall in 6 hours and 32 minutes.
So, on the positive side, the views were spectacular from the ridges. Here are a couple photos I snapped with my phone.
Here are a few of my favorite things about the race:
– The fact that we were warned at the starting line about rattlesnakes on the trails and told to check carefully for ticks afterwards.
– There was a section with absolutely no trail. Just ribbons tied to sagebrush that you were supposed to follow.
– At one point I got excited that I was getting near an aid station because I thought I heard people talking. Turns out it was just a flock of ravens circling overhead as if they were hoping one of us would drop off.
– Immersing my entire body in the ice cold river at the end of the race. This was one of the most refreshing things I’ve ever done and my wife appreciated that I smelled a little better afterwards.
– The opportunity this race provided to remove much of my Seattle pasty whiteness. Unfortunately it has been replaced with a very painful bright redness. I shouldn’t have worn those little racing shorts!
At the moment, I’m not sure if I’ll ever do this one again. Then again, I do have a pretty short memory when it comes to ultras. Ask me next week and I’ll tell you it was the greatest event ever.