Sunday I had the pleasure to attend the PCTR Malibu Creek 50k. This is the first of three SoCal PCTR (Pacific Coast Trail Runners) races this year and my first time racing this one. As always Wendall and Sarah put on a great event; a relaxed vibe, glorious location and perfect weather (apparently Wendell had booked the weather in advance), all aligned to make this a really enjoyable day, if you live anywhere accessible to one of their events, go, do it, sign up now; it will most likely be the most fun you’ll have all year!
Anyway I digress…as usual! For me the race was a tune up for Leona Divide 50m next month and I was using it as a benchmark on my current state of fitness, readiness etc and my expectations were to gauge myself and not go too mad, I was, as previously mentioned, looking for a steady sub 6:30 finish and it was also the opportunity to meet up with some online buddies (Chris and Danica) and re-meet with some real ones, who I hadn’t seen in the longest (Billy and Sara).
I arrived early and found the temperatures were a little cooler than anticipated; 34f! (yes I know for most of this country (and Canada and the UK) 34f is positively balmy), but I live here for a reason and 32f ain’t it!
A quick think on the clothing front and a stab in the thigh with the number pin and I was set, I stretched in the trunk of my car grabbed all my gear and wandered off to the start line. I had bumped into Sara and Danica earlier and they weren’t exactly embracing the climate! At the start I hooked up with Billy and we wished each other good luck, and with a 3, 2, 1, woot we were off!
A mile or so in Chris and Billy found me, I’ve no idea how Chris found me; it must be the accent when I am huffing and puffing through the top of my head! And so we stuck together on and off for most of the first loop.
The course was two loops taking in Castro Peak (not quite the summit, as it’s all marked Keep Out, but close enough), so it really is an up-down-around-up-down-around course, in fact on 19% of it is level and the rest is 50/50 up and down. After another mile or so were met with a line of runners backing up the trail…oh that sounds like water I thought; it was! About 12-15’ across and 2’ish deep (it seemed deeper the second time?), there seemed to be several ways to tackle it and I went with ‘try the stepping stones’ and then, ‘well I am wet let’s just get on with it’ approach, my shoes would dry out after a few more miles.
After this crossing we faced to the long climb to the top which went on for about 6 miles with some little downs in between, it was all very walkable with some running on the occasional downs and flats, we swapped stories and generally shot the sh!t as runners do. Once we got to the top the downhill was runable all the way to half way point, Chris and I jabbered to each other most of the way down with Billy not far behind and before we knew it we were half way round. 2:48! Gosh that’s a bit quick.
I set out from the Aid Station on my own; Chris had said that he had only wanted to stay with me the first loop and Billy was refilling bottles etc. I pushed through the water crossing the second time round without even a pause and plodded up the trail, a couple of hundred yards in and things were not looking familiar, I back tracked and picked up the right trail, phew disaster avoided and only a few minutes lost. I passed through the next AS and set off up the hill again. This time I knew where the flats and downs were so I made a point of running them even if they were only a dozen steps or so, every little counts, right!
There were two runners/walkers in front and I set my sights on overtaking them before the first summit, I managed to pass one and then caught the second a little later, there was also a third further ahead and I finally passed him, this had taken 3 miles. Up ahead there was a group of three who were pacing off each other and I played tag with them catching another two over the next 4 four miles. The downhill run, which lasted about 6 miles and dropped us 1900’ started to hurt the quads and toes after the second mile and so I balled my toes up and parked my brain as I let gravity take me down the hill.
I passed the old 4077 MASH site (where they filmed the TV show) for the second time and I finally overtook the third runner from the group I had been chasing. At this point I had one eye on my watch, the sub 6:30 was well in hand and there was a slim possibility of a sub 6:00 finish, something that has been in my sights for over a year.
Eventually the trail leveled out and I found myself in the last mile and on the road back to the finish. One runner was in front of me and with 300 meters left I pushed as hard as I could, caught and overtook him just before the chute, the clock by the finish read 5:58:53!
And that remained my official time, I was 17/61 overall and 5/16 in my Age Group, I broke my old PR by over 20 minutes and ticked off a major “thing to do in 2009”.
Chris came in about 10 minutes behind me with a new PR and Billy 10 minutes behind him completing his first ultra!
We hung out chatting and enjoying the sun for a while and then all parted company. What a great day!
So as races go it really couldn’t have gone better, other than a few potato chips I raced on gel (6-7) and Perpetuem alone and popped a S-Cap every two hours, it wasn’t that hot but I was feeling a little crampy with a mile to go so one every 90 minutes probably would have been better.
Now I have to weigh up if I want to run PCTR Sycamore Canyon 50k in three weeks or pass on it and go straight to LD in April, it would be nice to get the longer mileage in but I can cover that on my own and going in on the back of such a great race will be a real boost; while I simply need a finish to fulfill my AC100 entry finishing sub 11:00 for entry into WS100 is always on my mind!
Other race reports: Danica's, Sara's and Billy's with more photos etc, Chris' deleted his and is re-writing it.
Here is the MotionBased Data and a few photos here