Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nine Trails 35 Mile Run (Recon)

I am a big fan of “train of the terrain”, by that I mean train on the trails you are going to race on. This removes any surprises, allows for better pacing strategies, it gives you a real understanding of distances and hopefully helps you not get off course on race day! A mile on a road whether it’s up down or flat is mostly a mile on a road, very few road races throw 15%, 20% or even 45% inclines at you, having an understanding of what’s ahead of you is good both mentally and physically.

With this in mind and given that it was Becca’s Birthday week(end) we decided to head to Santa Barbara to give me some time on the Nine Trails course. It’s only just over an hour’s drive away.

We headed up on Sunday morning and the plan was for her to drop me at race start and then meet me at the turnaround, approx. M17.5 (it’s a 35 mile race) as well as around M9. I had some very brief written directions from ultrasignup.com and beyond that I would have to rely on my iPhone and local knowledge of anyone I met on the way. The distances weren’t huge and as most of the trails were on the Front Range i.e. near the town if worst came to worse I would just walk to the ocean. I was also carrying a spare iPhone that had the RoadID app installed and was transmitting my location. With all these measures in place there was nothing left to do but run.

I managed to stay on course for the first 6.7 miles. There I missed a right hand turn and this had me heading deeper into the range and towards Angostura Pass. The end result added a large climb and best guesses of 3-5 miles and an extra 2000’ of climbing.

I did manage to get some great photos;




The re-entrant on the left I came down on Monday, the peak in the middle I went behind on Sunday…both routes were wrong!

Here are some maps showing you where I went;


And where I should have gone;


And the elevations of each them;



Should have gone;


I knew I was in the wrong place and knew where I was but wasn’t sure how I had ended up there. This would come back to haunt me the next day. Bottom line was I was struggling to find the correct trail or even “the” trail on my phone. Since then I have downloaded a couple of TOPO Apps and I am still anxiously awaiting my Garmin Epix which has mapping capability.

I touched base with Becca and she stayed put and I went to her, avoiding adding more moving variables. We finally met up. My original plan was to run to the end which was another 8 miles, this I amended to add another 4 to give me 16 for the day instead of the planned 17.5. We ran down for 20 minutes and turned around knowing that the climb back up would take the remaining 40. Day 1 done!

The original plan for day 2 was to run the last 10 miles of the race. Given that I hadn’t quite made it the first day to the turnaround I had 3 options.

  • Plan A. Run the last 10 miles of the race.
  • Plan B. Run the middle 10 miles (basically the section I missed the day before).
  • Plan C. Run the first 10 miles of the race.

Given I thought I knew where I had gone wrong I opted for Plan C and Becca drove me to the start again. Without any ado I was off and although this was only the second time the trail felt more familiar and I made better timing up to Inspiration Point (54:06 vs 59:44). From there I dropped down into Tunnel Trail and then flat out took the wrong route. This meant a mile long climb, a very sketchy descent down a coyote trail (as in used by Coyotes), parts of which were above 45%. I kept thinking that this was a narrow trail to race on but the course description stated;


So with this in mind I made my way down. At this point I knew I was on the wrong trail but I knew I was heading to the right one! Finally I bottomed out and turned onto the correct trail. I was about a mile away from where I should have been…no biggie. I knew it was less than 2 miles to Becca.

Coming down Tunnel Trail from Inspiration Point, for scale I ended up at the Pylons on the horizon!


On the wrong trail (actually on Mission Creek) aiming for Antennas on horizon!


This is the sketchy coyote trail down.

Again here are the map and elevation chart;



This red line shows you were I should have gone, looks like more miles to me;


So all in all three great days of trail running. My totals 9100 feet of gain in 32.5 miles and 8:45 of time on my feet! I still have some of the trail to cover but I am planning another day there in a couple of weeks in advance of race day on March 28.

It goes without saying, which of course means it needs saying that I wouldn’t be able to so this without the support of Becca, both providing SAG and support but giving up most of Sunday and a lot of Monday, thanks babe!



1 comment:

  1. Well done. It is so easy to take a wrong turn in the boonies. My husband and I got lost years ago cycling the Colorado Trail. Map was old and it said to cross the creek 3 times and then head up a single track. We crossed 5 times and found what looked to be the trail, but ended up way off course. This was in the days before cell phones and GPS. It took us 3 extra hours of uphill cycling to find a dirt road so we could find our way back. Ran out of water and food, and it was past dark by the time we rolled into camp. My legs were jello. LOL



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