stephanie and i signed up for this race almost on a whim. we were both talking about trail races, and she found the shadow of the giants race up near yosemite. they offered a 20k “fun run” and a 50k race. i was tempted by the 50k, but i talked myself out of it due to the elevation (the 50k starts at 5,100 ft and hits a peak of 6,300 ft). i signed up for the fun run ($45) and for the friday night lasagna dinner ($20). we booked a campsite near the race and we were set.
on friday, molly, stephanie, and i packed my prius to the brim and took off for yosemite. the drive wasn’t bad, and about five hours later (after a stop for the bathroom and mcdonalds) we got to our site at the soquel campground. we were hoping to find a site inside yosemite, so this wasn’t our first pick, but it was really an amazing site. it was about 45 minutes from the race (and about an hour from border of yosemite national park) but it was quiet and beautiful. our randomly assigned site was right next to a stream. we had large trees for hammocks and only one neighbor (the mortons and stewarts never wanted to show up).
we set up our tents, ate campfire pizzas and s’mores, and prepared for our runs the following morning.
saturday (race/fun run day)
we set our alarms for 4:30 am. i’m not sure if anyone actually woke up then, i didn’t even hear my alarm. luckily i set a second alarm for 4:45 am and was awake for that one. it was still dark. we changed into race clothes, ate breakfast, packed up the cars and headed to the race by 5:20 am. by the time we got to the race site at 6 am, it was light out. a race volunteer was helping show cars where to park (which is always very appreciated).
this race uses an outdoor school as the start/finish. we went into the lunch room and checked in. as a fun runner, we just told them our name and got a shirt. we didn’t get a bib, which was a little disappointing, but it was a fun run, they made that clear from the start. the lunch room had pre-race snacks (like nature valley granola bars and cookies) and drinks (water and coffee).
at 6:54 am, the race director (baz) stood on a chair in the lunch room and made some last minute announcements. he said he wanted to start on time (7 am) and that we should all head out to the start line. this race/run had fewer than 200 people running it, so moving everyone out to the start line didn’t take long. this was baz’s last year as race director, so some people gave us baz stickers (a sticker with his face on it) while we were headed to the start. i wore mine on my pack (and it’s now stuck on the inside of my car).
at 7:04 am, baz made a few last minute announcements, and then the 50k racers were off. we waited around a little bit and baz talked a little more about the course and course markings. he joked that the river shouldn’t be too high and verifying that we could all swim. this was the first time i was hearing about a river crossing, so i thought it was a joke. then someone near me told me this was real, that we would be crossing a river. i looked down at my nice dry shoes and socks and hoped for no blisters.
the fun run started around 7:13 am. it started with a steep hill (where all of our cars were parked) and then maintained a steady incline for about five miles. i pushed myself up the hill and then immediately felt tired from the elevation. i didn’t have elevation sickness or anything, but boy i felt heavy. kenny, a friend of a friend, started talking to me, and i could barely maintain conversation. i walked a bit, and otherwise maintained a pretty slow pace.
everyone was so incredibly friendly. i made so many friends on the course. i met a guy who lived in oakhurst but used to live in michigan. i met a guy who works for a gym in los angeles and his longest run ever (before the race) was five miles. i met a woman who had a baby eight months before the race. we talked about other trail races we had done and how we had to have fun today (“because it’s a fun run”). one guy had run it many times before and told me, “the first six miles are uphill. then you cross the stream. that’s where the race photographer is. then there’s a little uphill, and the last four miles are all downhill.” i should have looked at the course elevation, but his tips really helped.
while the uphill was rough, it was gorgeous. tall trees lined the dirt/rock path. there were two aid stations, one at about mile five (i grabbed two oreos and took off) and the other right after the river crossing at mile seven (i took some saltines).
the river crossing was a bit of a surprise. there were rocks off to the right that you could try to walk on, but even the rocks were a bit under water. our shoes were going to get wet no matter what. i went right in, and awkwardly hopped through the water.
the last four miles were downhill, and while my legs were thankful, i was a bit bored. i didn’t see anyone (except for a couple elites running the 50k) from miles 8-10. at mile 10, baz was on the course helping direct the 50k and 20k racers (the 20k-ers only had 2 miles left, straight to the finish, the 50k-ers had a lot more to go). from that point on, i didn’t see anyone until the finish line. the last 1/2 mile or so was single track, the only single track of the day. we were weaving through the woods, it was a fun little adventure for the end of the race.
i crossed the finish line and saw my new friend kenny sitting comfortably in a chair at the finish. he had probably been done for a while. he pointed at me, and it was nice to see a familiar face. i told the timekeeper my name and she told me my time. she didn’t write it down though, it was just a fun run. they wanted my name so they could make sure at the end of the race that everyone was safe.
stephanie and leslie finished soon after. we changed out of our muddy shoes and grabbed coolers and chairs and went back to the finish line to cheer the rest of the runners.
the race provided soup (chicken noodle and vegetable), rolls, and cookies, as well as pop and beer to drink. the soup tasted delicious (even though i spilled half of it on my arm before i made it to the table).
the post-race atmosphere was wonderful. baz brought out a cooler of beer (and every thirty minutes or so would yell that there was beer in the cooler and that if it got empty he would refill it). the elites finished the race in amazing times. the winner of the race sat at our picnic table right after he finished and told us about how he went “rim to rim to rim” in the grand canyon in 120 weather just four days before.
after most of the finishers were in, baz presented the age group and overall awards. then there was the “raffle”. he had mentioned this in his pre-race speech, but i was wondering how it would work because none of us were given raffle tickets. well, baz brought out a box of t-shirts and said, “who wants a shirt?” then he and the other volunteers (and future race director) started throwing out shirts, water bottles, shoe laces. it was really fun. then there were duffle bags (which were considered nicer prizes). one of the guys had a piece of paper with questions on it, and we were told the first person to answer would get a bag. the first question was, “if 3x = 1, what is x?” i immediately said, “1/3!” and got a duffle bag. woohoo! the next question was, “which of the great lakes has the largest surface area?” i quickly said “lake superior!” and then was reprimanded because i already had won a bag. whoops.
during all of the post-race festivities, my toenail finally came off. this toenail turned black after the valencia 50k and was holding on for dear life over the last couple months. i guess they say that, “what happens in yosemite stays in yosemite.” and my toenail took that to heart. while my pedicures may look weird for the next few months, i feel like i have achieved a rite of passage in trail running.
we soon drove back to our campsite and i think we all napped. it was an early and long day. the night was filled with hot dogs, veggie burgers, s’mores, cards against humanity, beer, and even some wine. we drove back sunday morning after eating breakfast burritos, trying to dry our stuff after the thunderstorm saturday night, and packing up our cars.
i guess this shouldn’t be called a “race recap”, it should be called a “fun run recap”. oh well.