This is my fourth year in a row running the Golden Hills Trail Marathon, which is run in conjunction with the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 mile race. I have enjoyed the event every time and this year was no exception. In 2007, this was a breakthrough race where I was able to establish a new course record and finish well without cramping. In the next two years, I was able to better my course record by 2.5 minutes and then another 1:20. With nearly 5,000 feet of gain and the challenging French Trail to negotiate in the middle portion, this is not an easy course and I found it was difficult to substantially lower my course record. Thus, I approached this year with the goal of simply running faster again.
Fortunately, course conditions and weather were nearly perfect (it was perhaps slightly hot in the exposed sections in the last third, but I’m not complaining). I felt ok at the beginning with some tightness in my shins but fortunately, the legs loosened up allowing me to have a great middle section and gain ground on my previous splits. By the time I got to the last aid station I was nearly 10 minutes ahead of the prior year’s pace and wound up finishing in 3:06:39, nine minutes ahead of 2009’s time of 3:15:34. The first woman was Caren Spore setting a new course record of 6:43:47.
- 2007: 3:19:19
- 2008: 3:16:53
- 2009: 3:15:34
- 2010: 3:06:39
The Firetrails 50 mile is run in conjunction with the Golden Hills Trail Marathon, doing an out-and-back to the marathon starting point, but minus the 1,400+ feet of steep and challenging elevation gain on the French Trail single track (the 50 miler uses the gradual/flat Stream trail fire road instead). Dave Mackey won the race for the second year in a row breaking Carl Andersen’s long standing course record in an amazing 6:19:39 (Carl Andersen ran 6:26:42 in 1994). Former Firetrails champion Chikara Omine was also under the previous record in a blazing 6:23:05. Gary Gellin was third place in 6:43:49, Leigh Schmitt was fourth in 6:52:56, and Victor Ballesteros was fifth in 6:56:09. With five men dropping under the 7 hour barrier, this was easily the most competitive Dick Collins Firetrails 50 in the history of the event.
It is always a joy to run this point-to-point course, which features some great technical single track, sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay Area, and lush redwood forest. Also, the post-race BBQ is one of the best around and in particular, I enjoy the amazing selection of tasty desserts. As usual, race directors (and ultra running legends) Carl Andersen and Ann Trason did a fantastic job organizing this event (pictured with Gary Gellin and me below). Thanks to the volunteers for all your hard work, it was much appreciated. Lastly, congratulations to all the participants!