Woodside 50k

I had a fantastic time running at the Woodside 50k organized by Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR). This spectacular and aesthetic course covers ground in Huddart Park, Kings Mountain, Bears Gulch, and Wunderlich Park, containing some of my favorite trails in a true trail runner’s playground. Virtually the entire way is under lush forest canopy with copious second growth redwoods. As always, PCTR does a excellent job making sure that the event runs flawlessly with meticulous course marking, great aid stations, and tasty post-run food – an all-around good time!!

Me at the start, photo by Scott Dunlap

Me at the start, photo by Scott Dunlap

I had one of my best trail races running a 3:39:05. While this was 30 seconds slower than my 50k PR set in September at the Skyline to the Sea 50k, this course is tougher with 4,530 feet of cumulative elevation gain and is not a net-downhill course like SttS. Moreover, this was my best ultra race ever in terms of how I felt during and after the race, which gives me confidence heading into future races knowing I can finish the last few kilometers strong.

The story was much different at the beginning of the week. I was coming down with a cold prior to the Quad Dipsea and felt the effects during that race with awful dizziness and fever. Fortunately, after a few days of rest in bed, I started to feel much better. I knew I was still in good shape so I decided to enter into the Woodside 50k. While it was very soon after recovering, I live 10 minutes from the start (you could call it my “home course”) and with perfect late fall weather forecasted it was impossible to resist.

Notice Kieth Bechtol (behind me) with his hand up indicating this was his first ultra, photo by Scott Dunlap

Notice Kieth Bechtol (behind me in red shirt) with his hand up indicating this was his first ultra, photo by Scott Dunlap

While my time broke the previous course record by over 20 minutes, it was only good enough for second place as the highly accomplished Keith Bechtol was 2.5 minutes ahead winning in 3:36:34. Keith was an awesome runner at William & Mary with numerous runs at NCAA track and XC nationals and a sub 29 minute 10k PR! On the initial climb, Keith bolted up the hill to Skyline Blvd., but we then ran together all the way to Wunderlich. I could see him throughout the downhill in Wunderlich, but he gained much of his 2.5 minute gap on the 1,400 foot climb in Wunderlich Park. The gap was sufficient so that I did not see him until the finish.  When I passed by the last aid station and they told me Keith was 2.5 minutes ahead, I responded that lots of people kicked my butt when I ran in college and Keith was one of them! We were both over 20 minutes under the previous course record.

1-2-3 in the 50k, photo by Scott Dunlap

Keith Bechtol, Me, and Will Gotthardt: 1-2-3 in the 50k, photo by Scott Dunlap

It is always great to chat with other finishers at the end while eating snacks/chili and enjoying the beautiful late fall weather. Congrats to Will Gotthardt for the 3rd place finish in 4:08 (huge PR!) and Gary Gellin for a fast new course record on the 17k course in 1:10:39. Also be sure to check out Scott Dunlap’s great blog for a write-up and more photos which he took during his 4th place run in 4:22. Thanks PCTR for another memorable day on the trails!

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