Saturday, June 9, 2012

Western States 100, the first 3.5 miles

Years ago I raced ultras all the time. It was in my blood. The lonely hours on the trails were something I looked forward too. The last time I ran Western States was 1995.

The one section of trail that I haven’t run in 17 years is the first 3.5 miles. This section starts at Squaw Valley outside the K2 Base Bar, and goes up the service road to Emigrant Pass. The place where the States trail goes over the ridge is called the “Escarpment”. Locals know it as the “Monument” because Watson Monument was erected there in 1931.

Back in the day, I could easily run this steep 3.5 mile section. On race day, I had to force myself to walk now and then to conserve energy for the miles that lay ahead. When I “ran” it last week, I made several stops for filming and I still had to take walking breaks to catch my breath. I didn’t remember this section as being that difficult.

On race day, this section is run in the dark, so you can only see the ground in front of you. I started my run this time at 6:30am so I could see everything. The views are tremendous as you climb, and fabulous once you reach the monument at 8,750 feet. Lake Tahoe is behind you as you crest the summit. If I ever do Western States again, I will turn around in the early morning light and look at Lake Tahoe.

I made the following video of my run up to Emigrant Pass. If you are a race day spectator at Squaw Valley, take a run to the monument before or after the runners pass through.  You will be glad you did.

Western States starts Jun 23, 2012 at 5:00am.

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