First off - another amazing race put on by the Gnar Runners. Seriously, if you are looking for a great trail race these are the guys to look for. They put on a variety of races through the season and from my experience it will be great. Well marked, well staffed at aid stations, and just an all around awesome time.
Despite this being one of the hardest trail races I've run, I have the most fun running it. I managed to put together a great race which I'm pretty proud about. Here are some of my highlights:
I am super pumped about my time. I managed to knock off close to 30min from my time the previous year. I attribute the success to two things: more long runs during training and hill repeats. I cannot say enough about how much hill repeats have had an impact on my over all running. They've made my legs stronger and more ready to tackle hard hills later in the race, but also the downhills which often get neglected because "gravity" does a lot of the work.
2. Conquering the "hill"
There are a lot of hills, aka mountains, in this race but I really wanted to run this one section well since it has given me trouble in the past. This hill is part of the second big climb (there are three total) and you start with a long road. As with any trail race I've learned it is best to assume things just keep going up so I knew that there was a longer sustained trail uphill following the road. I was able to run almost the entire thing with a few brisk walking breaks for fuel and quad relief, but it was significantly better this time around. Additionally I was able to run the last climb just as strong making the final push after the unmanned aide station a success.
3. The Course
This really is a great course. It is also super hard, but for anyone who wants to challenge themselves with a tough run and follow it up with beer and music after you should do it. (Although for non meat eaters I wouldn't recommend the veggie patties. As is sometimes the case they get neglected for their meat counterparts and in this case ended up charred on the outside and froze on the inside. I did put together a good cheese/lettuce/tomato bun sandwich). While the elevation climb is a challenge, there are plenty of long mellow uphills to allow you to actually run. The scenes of the park are breathtaking, from the sun rising over the reservoir as we start off in the morning to the birds eye view of nearly everything at the tops of climbs I cannot blame all the runners who added their cameras to their water packs. Seriously, if it wasn't such a fun course would I be smiling during the last climb: