First off a huge thanks to all of the volunteers who made the Coyote Two Moon race possible as you got many of us through a tough couple of days. If you don’t know anything about Coyote Two Moon it’s definitely the most fun you will ever have running. It’s the only race where aid station officials will entice you with bonus minutes if you take shots of whiskey or eat cat food; I’m happy to say I took one shot and earned 20 bonus minutes yess! This race is pure running insanity and bliss all rolled up into one rather hilly course. Being a Coyote rookie I had no expectations, however I was told not to eat the nacho cheese dip which was flavored with nine lives chicken bits cat food.
So at the registration desk I’m informed that I must wear this ridiculous propeller hat for the duration of the race.. I have a sneaky suspicion Luis had something to do with it but it was fun for sure. During registration everyone gives an estimated finishing time and they put the runners into start groups accordingly. I was in the last start group at 3pm, that meant only 4hrs of daylight to run in, ugh! It made me a little nervous, but in the end who cares.. lets run. Prior to the race I meet some of my competitors and I remember thinking wow these guys are all crazy fast and for real, what the hell am I doing here with them I should have started in a different group! Everyone at the start was happy and ready to run, we all shared war stories and there wasn’t really any nervous energy like at most other races. Basically everyone seemed calm and in good spirits. Oh I almost forgot I met Bob with Drymax sports at the start as well. Drymax took some great pictures and were great sponsors for the race.
At 3pm they lined us all up and promptly sent us on our merry way. The first section of the course was Horn Canyon up to Sisar road. The 5 mile, 4,000 ft climb had numerous creek crossings and it was rocky and nasty, a perfect way to start the race. I made it to Mark’s aid station in 1hr 22min feeling really good.
The next section was along a ridge with numerous inclines and declines, roughly a 5 mile section to Chip Seal Road heading down to Rose Valley. I knew this section of the course as its my least favorite.. a fire road that descends 2,500ft in less than 2 miles. I just don’t like it. I made it down to the aid station in 3rd place at that time. I was stoked to see Eric Wickland and his crew running the aid station. They are cool people so I was feeling good. They dared me to take a swig out of this liquor bottle for a 20 minute bonus so I figured I had to man up and do it.. yuck!!! Whatever it was (I have no idea) was some nasty stuff.
I knew the climb back up Rose Valley was going to be tough so I put on my iPod and just started speed hiking. I didn’t run a single step of it and I’m pretty sure no one else did either. At this point I was passed with ease by Meredith Terranova the first woman finisher and winner of the Rocky Raccoon 50 mile race earlier this year. She was one heck of a climber and was great company too. Meredith is from Texas where there are no hills yet she was out climbing me and all I do is train hills.. whats up with that? I made my way to the top of the ridge not feeling too great but ready to head on to Howard Creek.
I was looking forward to Howard Creek as its a nice single track descent that I knew I could hammer out fairly quick. Plus, since the sun was starting to set I needed to run fast while there was still some daylight. I ran hard and once I got to the aid station at Howard Creek I was feeling pretty beat up.
The climb back up Howard Creek is probably the easiest on the course.. if you call a 1,500 ft climb easy. I was passed by Hank Dart half way through the climb and he and Meredith put some distance on me. By that time it was dark and the fog was rolling in. My headlamp was barely enough to see even just 5 ft in front of my face which slowed my pace. By the time I arrived at the Gridley Top aid station I wanted to quit, but the volunteers took good care of me getting me rehydrated. I popped some s-caps and off I went up to Nordoff Peak and then back down on the Cozy Dell Trail.
I had experience running this section of course more than any other so I knew well that it was the toughest section in my opinion and consisted of a 4,000 ft descent down to Highway 33 after climbing Nordoff peak and it was run all in the dark. My body again wasn’t feeling great. Since I was doing switchbacks up and down the ridge I was able to see the other runners and I could tell that I was falling behind. Mentally that tears you up as I knew that I was at least 30min behind the next runner. I finally stumbled my way down to the Highway 33 aid station and I was beat up so I spent 15 minutes there trying to regroup. I knew I hadn’t been eating enough even though I was now 9hrs in. If I wanted to finish I had to get my mind right and refuel.
Once ready I turned back onto the course and headed up for what I knew was going to be a long, slow, and grueling climb. I stuck with my race strategy and continued to take my Gu’s and s-caps and amazingly started to feel great for how deep into the race I was. In fact I was enjoying the climb and of course felt great being out in the wilderness. I regained my focus and knew that I could finish this race! I would only have 1 more major climb after I completed this one.
I finally made it back to Gridley Top aid station and had some chicken soup, cookies, and a mountain dew and it all definitely did the trick as I was feeling much better. The Gridley Trail is another favorite and I knew I could push the pace here on one more 6 mile descent followed by a 6 mile ascent back on up to the home stretch. I had never felt this good this late into a race. I hammered out the downhill and saw that I was making some ground on a few of my competitors. I spent no time in the next aid station at the bottom of the descent and then turned back around for the climb out. I continued to stay focused and passed quite a few of the 100milers and 100k runners who had started earlier.
On the final 1,000 feet of the climb I noticed Meredith and Hank making their way up the last climb and for some reason it gave me the biggest burst of energy seeing them. At that moment I just had enough in the tank to keep climbing. Once I got back to the aid station at Gridley Top I was full of adrenaline and ready to push for the finish, only 8 more miles to the Ridge Junction aid station followed by the final 5 mile descent to Thatcher.
I left Gridley Top pumped and felt like I was moving fast. I was done with all the major climbs but I quickly remembered that the ridge was no easy task with relentless ascents and descents. At that point I just wanted it to end but I wouldn’t let that stop me as I had already made it this far. I made it across the ridge and and then started to give the race everything I had left. The only thing standing between me and the finish was the 5 mile descent of Horn Canyon and man was it tough. The trail was technical and my legs were burning as it was so rocky and nasty. At points all I could do was just gingerly step down many of the massive steps and rocks but I knew I was getting closer after each one. Ugh I just wanted it to end.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity I made it off of the trail and I could see the finish. I just wanted to shout I was finally done.. yessss!!! The finish was insane and I had completed my first 100K! I was so stoked! It didn’t take long for physical pain to overcome my emotional high but it was well worth it. Man that was a crazy experience! That was my Coyote Two Moon.
Daniel Waddle is a trail runner out of Santa Maria, CA. He’s a helluva nice guy and a great competitor. Say hello and offer him some “bonus minutes whiskey” at your next race.
The 2009 Coyote Two Moon took place March 13-15 in Los Padros National Forest / Ojai, California.
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Full 2009 C2M Results: Click Here
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