Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Carmel Valley 25K - Carmel, CA

I hadn't run this race since 2006, when I won the short course. I was eager to try some of the tough climbs on the "back loop". This course has over 8500 feet of climbing on the 50K (two loops of the 25K) and is the second steepest PCTR course. Gary Gellin was running the 19K and I didn't recognize any of the names in the 25K. So I thought I might have a shot to win overall. No excuses handy to perform poorly except continued back pain, which hasn't really seemed to slow me down. Arriving at Garland Ranch State Park, I saw Sean Lang and Ray Sanchez at the start, who would both compete for the 50K win.

I took off with Gary Gellin and Jason Reed in hot pursuit of some pre-teen tow-headed boy. We ran out the flat trail from the center out to the hills. This was the Lupine Loop trail and after about a mile turned up quite a steep hill to get to the Mesa Trail. At the top of the hill I dropped Jason, who had beaten me for first at Santa Cruz. But today I think he was just tired after Dick Collins Firetrails last week. After another couple miles we dropped down Garzas Canyon Trail to the Carmel River. On this flat straightaway I saw Gary Gellin flying back already from the 19K (which he won with ease). After this we turned left to cross a river and reach the one course aid station. At this point the 19Kers needed to turn back and I kept going. As I arrived at the aid station and surrendered my water bottle to them temporarily, Eric Miller arrived in behind me. I picked up the pace going back out. But climbing the steep Laureles and Vasquez trails Eric was just too fast. Well fast is the wrong word. His little running mini trot up the wall face of the mountain was faster than my trot.

We bombed back down the back side of the mountain and came back down to the River Trail. It's an easy thing to do to just turn left and follow the pink ribbons right back. But runners need to turn right and get back to the aid station that the orange loop started at. I'm sure many runners made this mistake, as I saw a runner do it after I came back north from the aid station to follow the pink ribbons back. On the way back we went Garzas Canyon all the way. On this climb Ray Sanchez caught up.

We ran together from here pretty much all the way back in, although I put in a little finishing kick since I was just doing the 25K.

I finished in 2:30:04, good for third overall and first master. Eric Miller did a fine job descending apparently since he finished in 2:15, well ahead of me. Jason Reed came in seventh about 8:40 after me and said that he and Sean Lang had run between 6 and 8 minutes off course. When Sean came in he asked where Ray was. When I said "five minutes ahead" he left quickly to go hunt Ray down, which he successfully did. Whit Rambach was second in the 50K, with Ray ending up third.


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