Steve Stoyles and I started our Cle Elum 50K adventure Friday afternoon after work. Steve picked me up at my house and started loading the gear that I had stacked on my front porch. Our plan was to camp at Taneum Creek Campground located at the start, sleep in till 6:00 AM and go kick some dust up on the trail. I think Steve was a little shocked at the amount of gear I had. We were taking my monster Coleman tent which we refer to as the "palace". I also tossed in a futon mat, my pillow, an extra blanket, and most of the running stuff I own. We headed out to Cle Elum with a stop at a small Cle Elum Burger joint where we met Steve's Daughter and her friend for dinner before going to set up camp. One really nice thing was that as we traveled East on I90 past Easton the skys turned blue and the weather warmed up. After dinner we drove up to the campground and found a nice area to put the tent up. We got everything set up, mingled with some of the other campers/runners and it was soon dark and time to think about catching some z's. We organized or running stuff, taped our feet and had lights out by 9:00PM.
We woke up at 6:00am and I put some water on to boil on my Coleman campstove. We made oatmeal and I had a cup of tea and a banana. After breakfast I walked down to the starting area and picked up Steve's and my race packets. We were in the process of putting our numbers on when we saw a number of the early starters heading to the starting line. We missed the early start because we were still getting ready and tidying up our gear. We ate a bit more, zipped up the tent and headed to the start.
After Chris Fagen's pre-race course description she quickly counted down and we were on our way. The first 3/4 of a mile are on the paved road that leads into the Taneum Creek campground. Steve and I worked our way up to the front third of the pack in hopes that we would reduce the dust we would suck up from the trails by being at the front end of the conga line. As we turned off the road and started climbing dust was not too much of an issue. I'd say by mile 2.5 Steve and I had separated. I thought he was fairly close behind me but I could not see him when I looked back. At about mile 3.5 as we climbed a runnable uphill section I took my hardest fall of the day. My waterbottles served as my air bags saving my hands but my left knee, shoulder, and arm all took some scrapes from the rocky trail. I had been reminded by tc and King Arthur to take it easy on the first climb to save energy for the other big climbs that lay ahead. I of course would have none of that advice and since I was feeling good I continued at a nice pace.
I think the elevation profile above gives the best description I can offer to explain the Cle Elum 50 K race. Three big climbs followed by some long downhill with the last mile throwing a mean hill climb in just to keep you humble. I kept pushing myself thinking that Steve had taken it easier on the first climb and would soon be catching me with his stored up energy reserves. The course only had two aid stations at miles 12 and 21. They had self serve water bottle stations at random spots along the course between two and 7 miles apart. I carried two water bottles and only ran dry of water running to the second aid station. I'll admit that I started the race dehydrated and fought being thirsty most of the race. I only stopped to pee once along the way which is about three pee's shy of normal. Some of the views at the top of the peaks were spectacular with the highest peak having a nice vista overlooking the Cle Elum valley and Lake Cle Elum. I missed it but Steve saw a peek-a-boo view of Mt. Rainier near Windy Pass.
The trails for this race are maintained by motorcycle clubs as they are big users of the area. As such many of the trails are very dusty, especially on the switchback corners. It's the kind of flour-like moon dust that puffs up as you step on it and hangs in the air for a while. Occasionally there were sections with woopty-doos which are like reverse moguls. These features are hard to run in, especially toward the end of the race. Because they vary in size you can't get a stride going that accommodates smooth running so you end up going around and through occasionally compressing your legs as you hit the backside of the dip and climb up to the top of the crater and down into the next. I surprised myself by running a lot of moderate climbs only power-hiking on the steep sections. I had one low energy section after the second Aid Station which I attribute to eating too much and my body trying to adjust. Once my digestive system caught up and started burning the fuel I had provided the last part of the race went fairly strong. Somewhere around mile 25 I caught up to PSBowe who was running her first 50K. She had taken the early start and was looking strong and steady, still able to muster a smile as we said hello and then continue on. At about mile 27 caught up to Barb Blumenthal who had also taken the early start. Barb was fighting some fatigue and had kicked it back a notch planing to just take it in to the finish. I was able to catch and pass about three other runners that I had been playing cat and mouse with the entire distance and finish before them. I attribute my 100 mile training to my strength for the last couple miles of the run.
After I finished I went down to a creek near the finish line and sat in it to cool my legs for about 10 min. I came back up in time to see Steve finish. Steve also hit the creek for a nice soak and then we headed up to the tent and changed into some warm clean clothes. Shawn Lawson was the official time keeper at the finish line and she offered up some chairs for us to sit in. We chatted with runners and I was able to meet Scott from Pullman who had just finished his first Ultra. He has some nice pictures of this race on his blog so go take a look. At 4:00 PM the awards were given out for first place overall male and female and for first place in each age division. See results for names and times. Marty and Chris were able to get a bunch of nice prizes that were given out by raffle. I was lucky enough to win the book 50 Trail Runs in Washington by Cheri Pompeo Gillis. Cheri actually ran the race and upon my request was kind enough to sign my copy.
I finished second in my age group with a time of 6:27. Steve was close behind me placing third in our age group.
TIGER MT. SIX SUMMITS
I had promised Michelle (pictures on her blog) that I would run a Six Summits run with her on Tiger Mt. so she could see what Twelve Summits was all about. Jenny, Linda, and Jamal from our Y-Run Club also joined in on this 17 mile run. We met at our house at 6:30AM and headed out in two cars to the High Point Trailhead where we dropped Jamal's car. We all piled into our Honda Element and shuttled back to the Tiger Mt. Trailhead off of Tiger Mountain Rd. The weather behaved fairly well with light rain at the start and heavier rain in the last hour of our run. We made it to all six summits without too many problems. We set a good pace running where it made sense and hiking the hills. We were able to finish in our predicted time of six hours. Jamal got in about 20 miles by doing some out and backs. He ran strong up many of the climbs and then because he was not familiar with the course would turn and come back to us. Our only good crash came from Linda on the "Highway" trail in the last mile of the run. She was zooming down the nice wide gravel trail when she realized that her speed was in excess of her running shoes performance capability. Jenny who was running behind Linda looked up in time to see Linda's yellow jacket tumble off the trail. When Linda realized the was going to fall down she picked a spot and slid in grabbing a tree. She gets the tree hugger award for the day. Linda bounced up, said she felt fine, and continued on. Michelle was very happy with her run and felt great at the finish. Jenny had way too much bounce in her legs and showed me how she would spring side to side on the steep downhill sections of single track trail like a downhill skier. I tried it but my legs here bounced out from the 50K the day before.
Of course we stopped for a cup of Starbucks Coffee on the way home, why wouldn't we, we are the Y-Run Club. Coffee drinkers with a running problem.
Thanks for reading!