Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ohlone 50K - Fremont CA

This race is a classic. Its the hardest 50K not at elevation (based on average times historically). But with this year's 100 degree plus heat-fest it may harder than almost any 50K (Karl Meltzer's Speedgoat 50K probably still beats it).

I arrived at the 50K start Sunday morning at a civilized 7:30am (the race's 8am start time being one of the nicer features of the race except on such hot days). I chatted with ultra fixtures Will Gotthardt (his home course and winner of last year's ultra rookie of the year) and Beth Vitalis (multiyear winner of this race and who would also be this year's winner).

Jack and Lainey and I at the start, with Will Gotthardt and Jean Pommier in the background

I felt (incorrectly) confident of my ability to handle the heat, as normally its not a problem for me. I planned this year to go slow early and summit in around 55 minutes instead of 50 minutes. Otherwise, despite last week's 50K at Quicksilver, I was looking forward to a fun race in beautiful California golden hills.

We headed up the hill and I fell in with Bryan Wyatt, a familiar feeling after running with him last week at Quicksilver.

Climbing to Mission Peak, photo courtesy of Dan Turchin

I reached Mission Peak this year in 56 minutes. I had worn heavier New Balance 800 shoes, so the descent off of Mission Peak didn't hurt as much this year. I reached Sunol aid at around 10 miles at 1:45. I changed into some lighter shoes (probably a mistake) and picked up a new bottle of Perpetuem from my drop bag. Felt great up through the Rose Peak but was holding back in fear of the heat I guess. I got to the Schlieper (mile 25) aid station right around last year's time of approximately 5:30. But on the descent to Satan's Pit I cramped out in my right ab. This has happened before to me once or twice and I've noticed that it can go away. A bunch of people passed me including ultraholic Steve Ansell and Clare Abram (who I had run with at Tahoe Marathon last year). When I got to the bottom at Satan's Pit, my ab was the least of my problems. I was suddenly completely nauseous and dizzy. I laid there by the stream for at least 20 minutes decorating the trail. Even when I got up I still didn't feel right and went into a survival shuffle for the rest of the race. Jim Normile (second place runner in my Overgrown Fatass) passed me around mile 28 (same place as last year). Adam Ray caught up to me at mile 29. He was also having a rough day in the heat. I bombed down that hill to the Stromer aid station with him, but then let him go on ahead. Ultraholic Hao Liu caught up shortly afterwards and we ran the last couple miles together. I finished in 7:10, 43rd and just barely in the top third despite a very rough last hour and a half on the trail.

Jean Pommier had a fantastic day and won by over 20 minutes in an incredible 4:57. Will Gotthardt improved his place to 7th, finishing in 5:37. Beth Vitalis won and set the master's women record which was incredible under these conditions. Caren Spore was second woman this year. I chatted with her about upcoming races and tried to convince her to come up to White River 50M again this year (we had both done it last year). I enjoyed the barbecue and mingling with so many elite local ultrarunners before heading back to the South Bay.


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