The Stinson Beach Trail Marathon and the adventures of Chicken Purse

Race Recap

On November 7 Larissa, my Mom, and I headed up to Stinson Beach from San Francisco to run the Stinson Beach Trail Marathon put on by Envirosports.  I had run the 25k in 2008 as the marathon distance was canceled due to heavy rain.  The weather was perfect this year and I was excited to get back on to some of my favorite trails (Steep Ravine, Bootjack, Matt Davis).  I was also excited as my Mom was in town from New Mexico and was ready to tackle the 7 mile distance, one of the few runners in their 60’s doing so (I wont say your exact age Mom, but it is LOW 60’s)  

The fun aspect of the Stinson Beach Trail Marathon is that you literally start on the beach and then run up and over Mt. Tam before heading back up Tam from Muir Woods and eventually descend back down to the start/finish.  The trail is more technical than just saying “up and over Tam” but you get the idea.  The marathon distance has just over 4,000′ of climbing (as well as descending).

From the start I set out at a brisk personal pace, wanting to push myself as the distance was a little shorter than all but one of the races that I have run this year.  I was first through to Pantoll aid station (miles ~3 and ~11?) and shortly after the second time through Pantoll I was caught by the first 25k runner (the 25k started ~10 minutes after the marathon).  I’m not sure of his name but he was a younger guy from SoCal and was absolutely flying.  I let him pass and he said to kick up my pace and run with him for a bit.  My adrenaline took over and as soon as I took my second stride at the new pace… BAM.. I was laid out on the ground, chin in the dirt with scraped up knees and arms.  It was my hardest fall to date, luckily my Gel-Bot and SoftFlask broke my fall.  However, unlucky for the SoftFlask, it exploded, covering my right hand and arm in Gu.. awesome.

The 25k runner went on and I just focused on loosening up my knees and legs as they had tightened pretty bad from the fall.  After a few minutes I was pretty much back to normal stride however I was feeling a little gassed and backed off the pace that I had been setting earlier.  Around the same time I was caught by a marathoner (I cant remember his name but he was a young guy from Boulder, CO and really nice).  We chatted for a few strides and then he kept on.  Out on the ridge he was about 30 seconds ahead and missed an intersection.  I called out to him that he was heading the wrong way and eventually caught me again about a minute later.  He thanked me for giving him a yell to let him know he was heading the wrong way and I just laughed, saying no problem at all as I know all too well and have much more experience than I would like to mention taking wrong turns, knowing how frustrating it can be.

On the return from the ridge I was able to see that the first place runner (90+ seconds ahead at that time) and I were well ahead of the next group of runners.  I gave everyone I passed some encouragement as best I could and eventually I ran into Larissa making her way to the turnaround.  “You are in first for the females!” I yelled to her.  She had a big grin and kept on her way.

Once I reached Matt Davis I kicked up all that I had left and absolutely bommed the descent back to Stinson.  My quads paid for it the next couple days but it was totally worth it.  I crossed the finish in 3:08.24, good enough for 2nd overall and about 3 minutes behind first.  It was great to have my Mom at the finish.  We chatted with Will G. (a strong 3rd in the 25k/first race back from injury) as well as with the winner and other runners as they finished.  I was keeping my eye out for Larissa, hoping that she would hang on for first.

Sure enough Larissa came across the finish for her first win.  I was really excited as was she of course.  At Envirosports races, the winners get coveted black race-day shirts as well as a rubber chicken.  Well.. the “prize-purse” for the female happened to be a rubber chicken purse.  Larissa gladly accepted her prize purse (rubber chicken, not cash) and we could not stop cracking up.  If you ever see a cute blonde girl with a yellow rubber chicken purse at a trail running event, feel free have a laugh as well.

Thank you Envirosports for organizing a fun race and to all of the volunteers for making it possible.  Congrats to all runners at all distances, especially my Mom for conquering the 7 mile distance, and Larissa for notching her first win.  Way to go!  I’m sure Larissa will provide updates on the adventures of Chicken Purse.

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