Tamalpa Headlands 50k

I had a great time at the Tamalpa Headlands 50k last Saturday! It’s tough to argue with an extremely aesthetic single loop course traveling through the most famous trails in the Marin Headlands and Mount Tamalpais region including Dipsea, Coastal, Matt Davis and Miwok. These trails are renowned for good reason – the coastal scenery is spectacular! Along with the beauty, the course also packs a punch with over 7,300 ft of elevation gain over seven separate hill climbs. After a couple year hiatus, this classic event is back and doing extremely well! Race directors Tim and Diana Fitzpatrick did a phenomenal job organizing this race and a huge thanks goes out to the multitude of volunteers that did a fantastic job at the aid stations, directing runners at key intersections, and at the finish area. I had solid performance finishing first overall in 3:53:03, 3.5 minutes shy of the one and only Dave Mackey’s impressive course record. It was great to finally run this classic course and event!

The start at Santos Meadows, photo by Dwight MorejohnThe start at Santos Meadows, photo by Dwight Morejohn

The morning dawned cool and foggy which was nice for trail running and it stayed foggy the entire way except for a couple mile stretch from Cardiac Hill to the beginning of the descent of the Matt Davis trail into the forest towards Stinson Beach. I felt good for the first 8.5 miles to Rodeo Beach except for a wipe out on a slick bridge through lower Tennessee Valley. I acquired some sizable scrapes, but it was only a short diversion from the task at hand. I was running nicely through to the aid station at Hwy 1 (14.5 miles) – a good clip but yet still comfortable. I started to feel bit tired on the big climb up the Dipsea trail to Pantoll and lost a little focus here. I was reegenergized when I climbed above the marine layer to enjoy stupendous views over a sea of fog with the hills at Pt. Reyes and the Santa Cruz Mountains rising above the marine layer.

Passing through Tennessee Valley, photo by Dwight MorejohnPassing through Tennessee Valley, photo by Dwight Morejohn

Above the Fog on the Matt Davis Trail, photo by Dwight MorejohnAbove the Fog on the Matt Davis Trail with Sutro Tower (SF), photo by Dwight Morejohn

The descent of the technical Matt Davis trail was arduous and time consuming. There is so much abrupt shifting on this tricky descent and I was reluctant to run it too aggressively with another large climb up Steep Ravine remaining. When I made it down the Stinson Aid Station at the bottom of Matt Davis, I knew that Dave’s course record would be safe on this day.

Famous Steep Ravine Ladder, photo by Leor Pantilat

The climb up the lower Dipsea and Steep Ravine was challenging, but the refreshing redwood forest and the ladder climb was a treat as usual. Finally topping out at Pantoll, I knew it was all donwhill to the finish and I opened up the stride on the descent down Coastal Trail. The final bit along the Heather cut-off was a bit cumbersome with its tight switchbacks, but I finished in good form. Gary Gellin finished in second and Sean Pont was third, closely followed by Brian Lucido in fourth. In the women’s race, Suzanna Bon was first and Bree Lambert was second. It was great to hang out with friends after the race at Santos Meadows. Thanks again to the race directors and volunteers for a highly enjoyable day in Marin!

  • Complete results here.
  • Tamalpa Headlands 50k website.
Post-race, photo by Dwight Morejohn
Post-race, photo by Dwight Morejohn
Lushness on the Matt Davis Trail, photo by Leor Pantilat
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