Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mt. Disappointment 50K - August 8th, 2009

In preparing for Angeles Crest 100, I have spent the last 10 weeks training in the Angeles Forest, running nearly every section of the course route, and them some - sometimes not by choice, see helicopter video below.

Mt. Disappointment 50K landed on the perfect date to use as training run. Although it doesn't follow the Angeles Crest course, it does share much of the same area and terrain, from open fire road to single track trail. It would also give me a chance to practice my race routine in similar conditions.

With all this in mind, I signed up for the 50K (vs. the 50 miler) and road up with friend and training partner Erik Skelly to enjoy yet another fun day in the woods. I was really looking forward to this, as it would be a supported run with aid stations vs. having to pack everything in.

It was around 7am and quite chilly when the race started. Due to an abrupt course change we went down a road not the trail for the first 5 miles, which in turn helped everyone's time out a ton. My split at 5 miles was right around 40 minutes. Pretty unheard of when it comes to running an ultra (well at least for me!).

Next, we ran on some single track and then a fire road going up to our first climb. A mountain race like this proves to be that much more challenging when you have long ascents, altitude, and of course heat. Alas, I get into a groove and go right along. Around 10 miles or so in, I bump into another new friend, Diana Treister. After leap frogging each other for what seemed like 10-15 miles, I though damn this girl is really cooking. Now Diana was running the 50 miler, not the 50K. Despite this she was cruising right along at a quick pace, and would later become the first female finisher for the 50 miler (congrats Diana!!!).

I'd say around mile 25ish I was gaining some speed along a flat section when I noticed ribbons/trail markings going in two
separate directions. A runner behind me followed as I decided to follow the pink ribbon - the wrong way. Seconds later another runner was howling at us to turnaround and in doing so I was back on track with little time lost. This is where I ran into Dennis, an accomplished ultra runner, who just successfully completed Badwater no less than 3 weeks earlier. We exchanged stories of running adventures and the miles flew by. In what seemed like minutes later we hit the 26 mile mark - Westfork, where the the 50 milers go left and the 50kers go right 4.5 miles uphill to the top of Mt. Wilson, the finish. Dennis says we should shoot for 6 hours. It's 5:05 or 5:10, thinking it's possible I say, 'yes'. We chug up uphill attempting a slow run and the mountain keeps pushing us down. I breakaway about 20 minutes later, put both headphones on get in a solid pace. Judging by my heart rate I run 100 ft, walk 20ft... run 1 minute, walk 10 seconds... back and forth alternating, while maintaining some running uphill. 30 miles in with one to go I crest the last switchback and I see some spectators hanging out. The finish is close. After getting to the top I round the corner of the parking lot and up to the main building. Done! 6:22

Onwards to Bulldog 50K two weeks later... But before, check out some videos and pictures from the last few months of training. Classic stuff, no doubt.

Peter Williams
Running 100 miles in a day for a great cause.