Sunday, April 06, 2008

Malibu Creek 25K - Calabasas, CA

I enjoy running in the hot desert climate of the mountains around Malibu and Santa Monica. I had done earlier races in Exterra trail series here as part of the Trail Runner Trophy Series a couple of years ago. So, despite having done the Golden Gate Headlands 7 Miler on Saturday, I hopped the one hour flight down to LAX on Saturday evening to do this Pacific Coast Trail Runs race. The day broke a little overcast and cold as I drove from the hotel to the race site in Malibu Creek State Park.

A surprising number of Bay area athletes were there: Ray Sanchez, fresh from the American River 50 that day, Will Gotthardt, Ryan Commons, who's been on assignment in LA for a while. All of them were doing the 50K. Having run the Golden Gate Headlands 7 Miler on Saturday, and with next week's North Face 50 Miler in New York, I only planned to do the 25K. With 3000 feet of climbing, I thought 2:30 would be a great time.

Wendell warned us about a river crossing that was supposedly thigh deep. I didn't really want to get that wet so Will and I both thought we would take the road option. At least that was the plan.

Olver Obagi, Ray Sanchez, Ryan Commons, Will Gotthardt and others at the start

Wendell started us off at 8:30am. The 9Kers turned off after half a mile for their own loop. The rest of us continue on. I was running with Will and Ryan. The Obagi brothers, who I had finished behind at the Morro Bay 25K, were a bit ahead. We all hit the river about the same time without seeing a road option. The rest of the lead pack splashed through. Will turned back to look for the road. I followed Ryan across some rocks to the right, staying relatively dry.

After the crossing we came to the first aid station about 20 minutes in. Then the climbing started in earnest. Up, up and up on fireroad. Ryan pulled away, and eventually Will caught back up after making the road crossing. He pulled ahead as well. I had Oswald Obagi in sight, less than a minute ahead of me, for most of the climb.

Catching up to Oswald Obagi on the climb

As we got onto the ridge, and did a number of rolling slightly technical descents he pulled away. And Martin Brooks started to come up within sight behind me.

On the most technical rocky descent down to the aid station at mile 8, Martin pulled in as I was leaving. OK, I better step it up. On the subsequent climbs I pulled away more. But as we got down to the continuous descent at mile 10, Martin eventually pulled alongside. We ran for a while together. Hearing even more footsteps behind us, I picked up the pace and put some distance between me and Martin and the next guy, Bennett Ouchi. Coming out onto the flats, I put even more distance between us. With a couple miles to go, the trail turned to rocky single track which I knew would slow me down. Out of that stretch with about a mile to go, I could see Martin behind me again only about 100 yards back. Climbing up the road back to the start area, I had to push to keep that gap. I came in in 2:11, far faster than planned for a 25K with 3000 feet of climb, good for fourth overall and first master.

I hung around chatting in the now emerging sunshinewith Martin, Bennett, Wendell, Sarah, and Jon before heading to the Burbank airport and a quick flight home. I like these Malibu races and will be back for more of them later this year.


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