Cle Elum Ridge 50k

I ran the Cle Elum Ridge 50k trail race on Saturday. The short story is that I finished in second place (4:44:24), 2.5 minutes behind the winner (4:41:53). However, as is common in super long distance races, the results only tell part of the story…

I led it out from the start and felt good on the hills which seemed to never end – there is 6k ft of elevation gain on the course! I came through at the 12 mile aid station still feeling good with about 5 miles of hill to go. Then, 4 miles later and only one mile from the high point of the course (see elevation profile), my left calf decided to malfunction with cramping, spasms, throbbing, etc. It was quite frustrating because I knew I could no longer finish out the course the way I would have liked to (not to mention the added pain). I had to take the ensuing downhill much slower than I would have otherwise and the cramping never really abated thereafter. The winner of the course caught up to me at the mile 21 aid station. I was almost ready to call it a day, but a banana at the aid station seemed to help it somewhat (still spasming when I tried to open my stride in any way, but bearable). With a few miles to go I could see the ultimate winner ahead of me as my shuffle was keeping me in the game, but I couldn’t open the stride to close in due to the spasms. I ended up 2.5 minutes behind him, forced to jog down the last hill and no “usual” kick 😦 . Third place was about 20 minutes behind me.

I’m not sure what was the cause of the calf strain, it was hot on the eastside so maybe I didn’t consume enough water. Most likely, though, it was just the shear amount of hill running that shocked my calf and the fact that this was my first time running an ultra – about 10 miles further than I have ever run. In the mountains, I never run up the hills like those on the Cle Elum Ridge course nor do I train on hills even a fraction of the length. In retrospect, I probably should have taken the first few miles of hills easier. I can only think “what if” had the calf not malfunctioned, but overall I think it was a good first outing and I am proud of my performance. It was a fun experience and big thanks to the Race Directors and volunteers for putting on a fabulous event. I am now eager to see what I can do in an ultra trail race without muscle spasms!

Check out thoughts from fellow runners/bloggers Bella and Scott, both of whom also finished their first 50k – congratulations!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Eric says:


    Great effort at Cle Elum running against a very fast and very experienced Brian Morrison. Must have been the course because I started getting calf cramps right at the first aid station at mile 12. I started taking S-Caps every half hour which kept the cramps at bay except for when I stumbled and had to overextend to gain my balance again.

    How’s your ankle / lower leg doing? Looked like you may have whacked it or strained it somehow.

    Look forward to seeing you at future Ultras.

    Eric “Trail Scat”

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