Sunday, March 16, 2008

Montana de Oro 25K - Morro Bay CA

I've done just about all of the Pacific Coast Trail Runs races at one time or another. But I had never done this one in Montana de Oro State Park near Morro Bay. But hearing about the spectacular views and given that I love the "race up the hill from the ocean" genre of trail run, this year I made the three hour drive down from the Bay area for a rare PCTR Sunday run.

We stayed in the Morro Bay Inn about ten miles away from the race site. On the drive there, we stopped at the Starbucks in Los Osos where I ran into Vladimir Gusiatnikov on his way to the race by bike from the train at San Luis Obispo. We gave him a ride to get him to the start on time and admired the surf while we waited for the race to start. I hadn't expected to see familiar faces so far away. But at the starting line were Ryan Commons, Joe Murphy, and Ray Sanchez (another lunatic who seems to do each and every local trail race).


All the distances (8k, 13km, 25k and 50k) started at the same time at 8:30am. Wendell was nice enough to individually tell Ryan and I to be sure to make the turn off of the road on the bluff. This was probably because Ryan is fast and I am stupid.

I felt great at the start and headed out near the front with a whoop. I was just behind some high school age kid for most of the run out on the bluff. Once we hit the bluff the smell of the sea air was overpowering and inspirational. From here on the views in the race were incredible. It is one of the most beautiful courses that I've done.

We turned off of the bluff onto the Rattlesnake Trail to begin the climb up Valencia Peak. I enjoyed the climbing and kept at a run almost the whole way. But not too fast as I'm still spooked by my earlier calf injuries from overaggressive uphill running. I got passed by a handful of people:, Thomas Reiss, Oswaldo Lopez and Ryan Commons from the 50K and David DeLucchi, Anissa Seguin, and the Obagi brothers from the 25K. Reaching the top of Valencia Peak I felt strong and bombed back down past the oncoming runners approaching the peak. We then turned onto Oats Peak trail for the return to Spooner's Cove and the start area.

I got back to the start at 1:10 into the race, had a couple cups of Coke and headed back out Pecho Valley Road to the Ridge Trail up to Hazard Peak. Ted Nunes was right behind me for the run down the road. I could see Ryan Commons and a few runners ahead on the climb, but I knew I would lose them on the descent. After climbing Hazard peak there were a few more rollers before hitting Islay Creek Road for a few miles of long flat running back. I finished in 2:29, fifth overall and second master.

We headed off to Paso Robles wine country for a visit to my favorite American syrah maker: Hunt Cellars for an afternoon of anti-oxidant and resveratrol-rich wine tasting.


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