Skyline 50k

Last Sunday I had a great experience running the Skyline 50k in the East Bay hills. This race is a classic Bay Area event with 32 years of history. While the course has 4,750 ft of cumulative elevation gain, the route includes 17 miles of fire road and 3 miles of paved road allowing for a relatively fast pace. The remaining 11 miles of the course are on single track including the legendary French Trail in Redwood Regional Park traversing a thickly forested hillside with stately redwoods. The days leading up to the event were very hot in the bay area hills so I was not expecting cooperative weather. However, Sunday morning dawned foggy at Lake Chabot as a little extra push of marine air served to keep temperatures in check throughout the morning. In addition, the early start of the race at 7 am helps to mitigate heat issues.Photo by Adam RayI moved along nicely through the early stages of the race finding a rhythm on the fire roads reaching Big Bear Aid Station in about 58 minutes and Skyline Gate in 1:35. The French Trail was inspirational as usual, despite the inevitable fall-off in pace due to its twisty and technical nature. I was able to move at a consistent pace up the MacDonald climb, a short but steep climb that is never easy but I knew it was the last major climb of the course.  I got into a nice rhythm heading down to Bort Meadows that continued along the Brandon Trail and Cascade Trail. The final stretch of single track around the north side of Chabot on the Columbine Trail included some small hills that slowed the pace down and I was happy to finally reach the Honker Bay aid station. I passed through that aid station in 3:12 and I knew it was going to be close for breaking the legendary Tom Johnson’s course record from 1997, which I recalled was somewhere in the 3:32s. With 20 minutes to run the last 3 miles, I moved at a decent clip through the bridge crossing at the far end of the lake. The pavement for the last 1.5 miles is deceivingly difficult on tired legs with its rolling hills, but with about a quarter mile to go I realized that if I picked up the pace I would have a good chance of breaking the course record. After a hard charge, I arrived at the finish in 3:32:05, lowering the previous course record (3:32:37) by 32 seconds.The organization for this event was phenomenal and a big thanks goes to race director Adam Ray and all the volunteers for making this a great day on the trails for all the participants. The course was well-marked, aid stations were superb, and the post-race bbq was delightful. It was great to mingle with runners as they came in and spend the afternoon picnicking at Lake Chabot. Thanks to all involved with this awesome event!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Stanley RJ says:

    Great summary, see u around.

  2. Jason says:

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