Skyline to the Sea 50k 2011

I look forward to Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR) Skyline to the Sea 50k every year and it was no different on my fourth year running the event. The point-to-point route from Saratoga Gap to Waddell Beach utilizes some of the best single track trails anywhere and passes through the heart of Big Basin Redwoods State Park with its monolithic redwoods and awe inspiring Berry Creek Falls (pictured below). For more details on the course, check out reports from past years: 2008, 2009, 2010. Nearly perfect weather (sunshine and 60’s) greeted runners once again. Surprisingly, trail conditions were great with few blowdowns to negotiate and relatively little mud – a big thanks goes out to trail crew volunteers who take care of these trails so well! As usual, race organization and volunteers did a fantastic job and thanks for all your hard work that went into putting on this logistically complex event.

My goal for the day was to simply go out and enjoy some of my favorite trails while keeping a consistent tempo. This was also my first time racing in the new La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0, which handled the course extremely well. It is hard to not be inspired by your surroundings on this beautiful course so the enjoyment component was easily fulfilled. Overall, the running effort was fairly consistent and my split times (below) closely mirror my splits from last year. However, the last section from Gazos Aid Station to Rancho del Oso Finish was approximately 0.5 km longer this year due to a reroute to avoid a slide on the Skyline to the Sea Trail. The re-route also featured an additional bit of rather steep climbing so I’d say it added about 2.5 minutes to my time. My hamstrings felt a bit twingy on some of the downhill, but I was happy to avoid full-blown cramping with consumption of Margarita 3x Shot blocks and First Endurance EFS Fruit Punch energy drink powder (quick dissolving, great tasting, and effective). Course experience proved invaluable on the long fire road stretch at the end and I was able to find a nice rhythm for the last few miles and lower my Course Record from last year (despite course re-route with the additional hill) by over a minute to 3:24:09. This was also a new PR for the 50k distance. North Face runner Leigh Schmitt arrived in second place in 3:38:19 and Joel Lanz was third in 3:54:35 (complete results here). Congratulations to all the participants and thanks again PCTR for putting on a fantastic event!  My full photo album with a few more photos here.

Comparison between 2008, 2010 and 2011 times:

Aid Station Distance 2008 Time 2010 Time 2011 Time
Waterman Gap 10.5k 40:20 41:03 39:14
China Grade 18.0k 1:14:47 1:14:08 1:12:18
Gazos Creek 25.5k 1:44:52 1:41:55 1:40:17
Gazos Creek 32.7k 2:19:28 2:14:30 2:13:47
Finish 50k 3:38:33 3:25:17 3:24:09

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Race reports from prior years:

My complete photo album.

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