The Ron Herzog 50K features a series of "Tank Traps" along the course. A Tank Trap is a term used by the Dept. of Natural Resources to describe drainage systems used for sediment control of runoff water. A Tank Trap is basically a deep ditch cut across an old logging road to allow for drainage of runoff water. An old logging road overgrown with alders and the Tank Traps provide for a whole bunch of up and down. An added challenge is many blow overs and brush that whips you like a switch.
I camped at the trail head at the Masonic Park about four miles out of Granite Falls Washington. I used our Honda Element as my shelter. Karen W. of Bremerton also camped at the trail head that night. She had her pop-up Alaskan camper with all the comforts of home. I had called Karen on my drive North to Granite Falls when I realized I had forgotten my water bottle carriers. Karen had not left her house yet and brought two carriers for me to use. I'm sure her husband George picked out the nice pink carrier that I used.
Since we were at the trail head early we were soon convinced to go with the early starters. Karen offered up some oatmeal for breakfast and then we all hurried to the starting line. About 9 runners started early. Among them was Shawn L. Shawn and I typically finish very close together in 50K's and 50Mile runs so we ended up running the first 18-20 miles together. We climbed for the first 7-8 miles on a logging road through an area that was actively being logged. We then turned off the road into the Tank Trap section. This is where we discovered the Human Trap. I entered the Tank Trap road first and was slipping and sliding on two planks and some roots at the trail head. Shawn followed and slipped on the same planks only her foot managed to slip into a hole by the side of the 4X8 plank and a tree that was growing on it's side along the ground. I don't know how she managed not to break her ankle but she soon realized that her foot was stuck. I took a picture of her predicament before helping pull the plank aside. The tree would not budge. Shawn finally had to pull her shoe off in order to get free.
Stuck and not happy
We worked our way through the tank trap section which included a stream crossing. The stream was about 20 feet wide and with all the rain we had before the race it was running high. There was a strap across the stream to help keep your balance but you had to step carefully as not to slip and fall. We made it through all the traps and then entered another logging road. At mile 15 we came to the one and only aid station. It was well stocked and the volunteers were very helpful. I sure appreciate their willingness to freeze their tails off for the runners.
About three miles out from the aid station we went by a side road which had been used as a target range for shooting. You could see a few pumpkins that had been shot up and some pie tins and such that had been hung from bushes as targets. About 500 feet from the target range we crossed a bridge and Shawn noticed something on the side of the road. She stopped and yelled at me to stop. She pointed at a tan object on the side of the road and when I focused on it I realized it looked like a human head. FREAKY! At this point I felt compelled to investigate more. My first impression was that it was a mannequin head. As I looked closer I could see what looked like hair follicles on the scalp and I got the eerie feeling that it could be real. At that point I pushed the object with my toe to see if it was real and it flipped over to expose the hollow inside of some sort of mannequin or mask. The rubber that formed the skull had bullet holes in it. Shawn and I breathed a sigh of relief and continued our quest for the finish line.
At about mile 22 I started to pick up my pace and run more on the hills which put me gradually further ahead of Shawn who is just getting back to long runs after breaking her big toe in a cycling accident. I ended up running a 6:27 and a 6:43 pace for miles 23 & 24 on a fairly steep down hill switch back section of the logging road. The last 5 miles of the race are on pavement. Three miles of paved logging road in the woods and 2 miles along the highway back to the trail head. These miles seemed to last forever and I was really glad to see the finish. Finish time 5:46:53.
I managed to complete the entire 50K without any crashes. I was not so lucky today when I went for a run on the trails a Point Defiance in Tacoma. I crashed and burned on the trail and bashed my left quad on my wallet which I had accidentally left in my trail running shorts pocket. It was like someone slugged me in the quad. I don't have any races planned for two weeks so I'm sure I'll be healed up from the bruise before then.
Thanks for reading.... Run Happy!