This was fun!
I headed to Green Valley for the Leona Divide 30K this morning. After the fiasco a couple weeks back trying to run most of the trail on a warm Saturday afternoon I decided to take a cautious approach to the race. I really was not thinking of it as a race. I was thinking of it as a long trail run.
Before the race I saw some friends that were getting ready for the 50k: Karl and Andi Stutelberg, David Weary, Dawn Schneider Matthew Bierowicz and Kyra Sundance. At 6:00 am the 50 milers and 50k racers took off. Those of us in the 30K had a little more time to wait. Kevin Bice and Janet Dempsey were the only friends I knew in the 30K.
At 6:30 the race began. I began in “low gear” up the hill. I tried to keep a nice quick turnover with small steps and resist the urge to race the others up the hill. There was a number of runners who quickly got out of sight, but there was a pack that seemed to settle in just ahead of me. As we turned onto the dirt there was a short very steep section. Most of the pack walked. I kept my little cadence up and started catching people. By the time I got to the turn onto the Pacific Crest Trail there was just two more ahead of me. I passed both of them within the next half mile.
As the run headed northwest on the PCT I kept hearing a group behind me but when I got a chance to look back and see I noticed that they were falling back. I ran up the last ridge before San Francisquito and down the .8 mile section to the road. A young lady passed me on the downhill, which was a bit of a surprise. I tried to count the leaders ahead of me. I lost track after 10. I reached the San Francisquito turn around at an hour and 35 minutes.
After a quick turn around grabbing just a gel, I headed back up the hill. I did not push the pace, I just ran little steps up the hill. I saw Kevin coming down not too far behind me. Up and down I kept thinking I heard voices of runners behind me. Must have been the wind though as there was never anyone back there. Janet gave me a bunch of encourage (as she always does) as I saw her go by.
The 50K leaders started to go by. They had run up to the PCT and made a right turn running to Bouquet Canyon and back before heading to San Francisquito. Karl was in 3rd place when he went by. There was another guy close behind him. As I climbed the 2nd ridge southeast of San Fran I spotted a competitor ahead of me. He had obviously slowed down. I passed him. As I got into the last mile or two of the trail I saw Andi go by, then later Matthew, Dawn and David.
As I turned from the trail to the dirt road I spotted Kyra digging into her gear. There seemed to be a pretty good crowd at the aid station. I blew through it and headed down the hill. I was up to 16 plus miles by now. I was feeling fatigued but still holding strong.
At 17.45 miles there is a .4 mile pretty steep climb. Suddenly there was a guy 50m ahead walking. He saw me and started running but I little stepped it up the hill gaining on him all the way. Near the top I spotted another guy looking back to see who was behind him. I caught the one guy at the top of the hill and we both started to run rather fast down the hill. I got by him and the other guy about 50m before the right turn onto the pavement.
Figuring they would be right behind me I let loose on Spunky Canyon. I ran sub 7 for the 19th mile and 6:46 pace on the final .2. Both of the other two were well behind as I Lister-rolled into the finish!
My official time was 3:08:32. I ran a negative split running the return trip in 1:33. I was 13th overall and that I won my age division! Kevin finished around 3:26:04
I stayed long enough to see Karl finish 4th about a minute behind the 3rd place finisher. I walked to my truck and got changed and drove up the hill to go home. Janet was running down the hill about a half mile from the finish, smiling as big as ever!
And now for a little fun…. Here is a link to a Strava “Flyby” that shows the 30K runners who have uploaded to Strava… plus Karl, Andi and Matthew