I ran the Pacific Coast Trail Runs Pacifica 50K this past Saturday, January 17. This was the first PCTR ultramarathon of 2009 and it was a pretty damn tough 50K course with over 7,000 feet of ascent and descent. To put into perspective, the hike from the Yosemite Valley floor to the top of Half Dome is around 4,800 feet. This race was another sellout with over 400 total runners registered in one of four marked distances: 50K, 30K, 21K, and 9K. San Pedro Valley Park seemed to buzz with energy and all runners seemed pretty anxious for the race to kick off.
After a brief course overview by Wendell and Sarah from PCTR, the race kicked off at 8:30 and instantly started with a climb up to the summit of North Peak (11.9K/7.4 Mile loop). There was some pretty challenging single track but I kept a steady pace even though I felt like a lot of runners were ahead of me. I figured they were mostly 21K and 30K racers and realized I was correct once the runners in front hit the turnaround at the summit and I could start counting race numbers. I felt good and stuck to my pace and game plan.
After two loops of the Hazelnut Loop (9.3K / 5.8 Miles each) we again climbed North Peak. I caught up to Charles Hofacker (2008 USATF 100 Mile Trail Masters Champion) at the start of the loop and chatted for a bit until he pulled away on some steeps. As I was still heading up, Nathan Yanko came cruising down in the lead and looked to be running real strong. No one else passed me and I ended up catching Charles on the descent and I pulled away to have a bit of a cushion. I figured I was in second place as just Nathan was in front of me, and was told the same at the last aid station (that Nathan was about 16 mins ahead, wow!). I did one last loop of Hazelnut and came cruising into the finish in 4:58.43. Somehow I ended up in third (?) but was still pretty stoked for breaking 5 hours on a tough 50K course.
I chatted with Rachel Baker-Rodriguez, Owner of Aim Fitness, and Nathan Yanko (50K winner) after the race and we were shocked to hear that it was Nathan’s first ultra! The guy ran really strong and is a name to remember as he definitely has a lot more first place finishes on the horizon. I also was pretty stoked to finally meet Shan Riggs and his wife Abby as I had come across Shan’s blog after his 1st place win in the 2008 San Francisco One Day (24 Hour race) and his 23rd place finish (3 spots ahead of me) in December’s The North Face Endurance Championship 50 Mile.
Four (count them 4!) new Course Records were set on the day, wow! The CR’s were: Nathan Yanko for the Men’s 50K (4:32.55); Jen Pfeifer for the Women’s 50K (5:05.45); James Duff for the Men’s 21K (1:39.23); and Paul Roach for the Men’s 9K (41:55). For current course records Click Here
Overall it was a great day and a blast to be back out on the trail. Congrats to all of the runners at all distances and thanks to Sarah and Wendell from PCTR for another great event.
Race Website: Click Here
Full Race Results: Click Here
Pacifica 50K Race Beta: There is only one (very well maintained) aid station on this course which you will pass three times. You will want a handheld hydration bottle and a couple energy gels, ESPECIALLY for the North Peak climb. North Peak is a tough climb with some technical sections, trail running shoes with a strong baseplate are recommended for some of the single-track as there is a fair amount of chunky, loose rock. Oh, and there are not a lot of bathrooms at San Pedro Valley Park… get there early if “that” is part of your pre-race schedule!