Sunday, December 14, 2008

Twin Peaks Ultra

In my grand scheme for 2008, the Twin Peaks 50/50, was part of my plan to thumb my nose at the “No More California Marathons Rule” and to enjoy some of the challenges that I had my eye on in my home state. The stress fracture early in the year took me out of contention for the Catalina Marathon and the Big Sur Marathon. Twin Peaks had been postponed from its original date in February, but I was already well on the way to the stress fracture on the original race day. The race would likely have just hastened the process.

When the race was rescheduled for December 13, just one week after the St. Jude Memphis marathon and 6 months after returning to running I knew there was no way I’d be in shape to complete the 50K. I had to give precedence to my primary goal of 50 states over the ultra. Instead, I signed on to volunteer again.

This time I had the distinction of manning the finish line for the entire race. I was the time keeper. It was pretty neat to see the expressions of joy and relief as people finished. The day turned out to be a chilly and windy one. For you folks in the PNW and MN it probably qualified as a light winter or fall day but most of the SoCal folks just weren’t prepared for the conditions.

The rerouted course was more difficult than the 2008 course. The highest peak is about 5700 ft. with the total elevation gain somewhere around 13,000 ft. Up on top the temps were in the low 30's with heavy mist limiting visibility to a couple of feet and reports of horizontal snow at times. Many runners commented that they couldn’t feel their hands for several miles.

Keeping the times was complicated by the fact that there were two distances, each with up to three start times. There were starters at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 for the 50 miler and 6:30 and 7:30 for the 50K. I recorded the actual time as they crossed the finish line and then did the math to determine the elapsed time. The task was made easier in that the runners never came in more than a couple at a time. The task was made more difficult in that the actual starts were really something like 4:03, 5:05, 6:02, 6:33, etc. Doing the math was a challenge especially on those half hour starts. Never the less I made it through. I know the actual times were recorded accurately. Jessica, the RD, promised to double check the math before posting the official times.

The attrition rate on the 50 miler was near 50%. The first place male came in at 9:30 hrs. while the first place female (out of two) came in at 12:00 hrs. The first place male in the 50K was somewhere near 5:38. The first runners started at 4:00 a.m. and the last guy off the mountain came through around 8:30 p.m. That's a long day. My day's duties started at 11:00 a.m.

I was glad to have been able to lend a hand as these hard core runners tested themselves at Twin Peaks. My own foray into the ultra world will have to wait for another day.


Joe said...

Well the RD sure picked a good guy to "do the math"!!! This is like the ultimate story problem "Sally started the race at 5:30 while Larry started at 7:00. If Sally ran 50K in......"

Horizontal snow in SoCal...yeah, that would have been good.

Hmmmmmm...maybe this is a target race for us some year???????

Thanks for volunteering...I'm sure you were a great help.

Nick said...

Good job.
That job would have made me a little nervous. I'm terrible at math.

jeff said...

i can't begin to tell you how thankful i was to see you there at the finish. i was in a terrible mental state and seeing a friendly face, nay, one i RESPECT was a thing of great comfort.

thanks, darrell.

Jessica Deline said...

the timing sheets were excellent! You did a great job and a very important one! thank you :)

Donald said...

13K of climbing for a 50 miler is a back breaker. No wonder the drop rate was so high.

(In other words, it sounds interesting ...)

Janice said...

Great blog.... I will read more later, but I noticed you ran St George in '06... I am from Ut and that is one of my favorites races. I PR is there with a 3:27.... Yay for me, it got me to Boston this year. I am hoping now that I live in Ky, I can find another marathon to requailfy on.
I am planning on The Nashville country music in April... is that the one you are running?

Anne said...

From reading Jess's blog, it sounds like you were well needed and well placed among volunteers. I would have liked to help out again but the race fell on the day of my company holiday party. Ultra runners don't tend to be as anal about seconds or minutes, so I'm sure whatever you recorded is accurate and appreciated.

robtherunner said...

Sounds like a great way to spend the day, Darrell. It also sounds like it was a brutal day out there. Even for PNW standards.

Anonymous said...

It was probably nice to see the race from a different perspective. It may help you out when you decide to take it on. That's great that you were willing to help out!