PCTR Pacifica 21k


On July 5th, I participated in yet another great Pacific Coast Trial Runs event, this time at Pacifica in San Pedro Valley County Park, just south of San Francisco. The park features pristine coastal mountain habitat, also known as coastal scrub, consisting of low evergreen shrubs and herbs. The event included distances of 9k/21k/30k/50k. All runs at Pacifica are difficult with substantial elevation gains. The 21k/30k/50k all start out with a 12k round trip climb of the North Peak of Montara Mountain (1,898 ft), gaining 1,700 feet and including a very technical section of rocky trail. Montara Mountain has excellent views of Pacifica and Half Moon Bay, but on this day dense fog covered the mountain precluding views. After Montara Mountain, the courses then continue onto the 9k loop which has two smaller hill climbs totaling 1,200 feet of elevation gain. The 30k/50k do the 9k loop twice and the 50k continues up Montara Mountain again. The 21k has 2,900 ft of gain, the 30k has 4,100 ft, and 50k has 6,700 feet of gain.

View of Pacifica from Montara Mountain in clearer conditions
View of Pacifica from Montara Mountain from an earlier hike

I was on the fence about running this race due to some pain in my posterior tibialis (shin splints). Fortunately, the shin did not cause any issues during the run, in part due to a tight compression wrap. I ended up feeling pretty good most of the way winning the 21k in a new course record time of 1:33:28. It was nice to run most of the way and chat with Will Hudson (who continued on to run a fantastic 30k in 2:16:32).  We definitely helped each other out on some sections. I led up Montara Mountain and we reached the high point at North Peak in under 30 minutes! We then blasted down the mountain (with extra caution on the technical part) in around 23 minutes. The climbs along the 9k loop were more difficult due to tired legs from the downhill, but after finally cresting the final of many many switchbacks on the Hazelnut Loop Trail, I knew it was time to hammer the downhill home to the finish.

Serena on the Montara Mountain Trail
Serena on the Montara Mountain Trail

Caitlin Smith won the women’s and was 4th overall with a time of 1:45:52. Will Gotthardt was second in the 21k in 1:40:08 and Ryan Commons was second in the 30k in 2:31:31. Kevin Weil won the 50k in 4:29:41 with Nathan Yanko close behind in 4:31:19 and Meredith Terranova won the women’s 50k in 4:53:21. Complete results here. Thanks PCTR for another great event!


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