I did not start (DNS) this race. This post details what I did instead.
2104 marked the inaugural running of The Canyons 50k in Foresthill, CA. Co-race directors Chaz Sheya and Tim Madden "realized the need for an adventurous, local trail race that would allow others to experience the magnificent beauty of the canyons in the spring, and provide an excellent training opportunity on the most challenging section of the Western States Endurance Run." I agreed, and signed up for the race as an on-course training run for Western States.
The course begins at Foresthill Elementary School. The course runs east out of Foresthill, following the Western States course in reverse. Upon reaching the Middle North Fork of the American River, runners turn around. The return to Foresthill follows the Western States course as it runs on race day. I was looking forward to getting into these canyons for the first time. Lake Sonoma 50 bolstered my confidence, and I took no rest the following week. BIG mistake. By Saturday my left ankle was angry, and after a 20 miler, I had to R.I.C.E. it, for I could hardly walk. The resulting six-day break and reset meant it I would not be running. Despite feeling back to ~80% on race day, The Canyons 50k became my first DNS since taking up trail running.
The race coordinators had all the volunteers they needed, so Twirly and I took our time getting to the event on race day. The weather was moderate with sunny skies and mild temperatures. I checked in with Chaz to get my swag. A nice trucker's hat was a welcome alternative to the standard race tee. We chatted for a bit about the race and trails, Chaz told us to help ourselves to some Tailwind, grab some grub and enjoy the festivities.
Twirly and I ran around Foresthill and down Bath Road, then relaxed at the finish line cheering in runners. We knew a few people running the race and wanted to hang out to see them finish. However, we also wanted to get a camp site at Ruck-a-Chucky campground so we left before our friends finished. Hopefully the race will continue next year, as this one is on my bucket list. 9000 feet of climbing in 50k makes for a brutal course!
|Twirly running to Poverty Bar|
|Cal 3, coming into Ruck-a-Chucky rapid|
Our premature departure paid off, as we got the last camp site at Ruck-a-Chucky. The day was turning warm, and I wanted to get in another run along the course. I headed up canyon to scout out the lower section of Cal 3 from Ford's Bar to the river crossing. Twirly kept up for a mile before giving in to the call of the river. I proceeded up river for a few miles before returning to camp. I soaked in the river for a while, and we enjoyed a beautiful night under the stars.
The next morning we broke camp before exploring a trail recommended by Ann. A 3-mile stretch from the campground to Poverty Bar brought us rolling hills, fields full of wild flowers and even a wrecked car in the woods. My legs were beginning to feel normal again. I realized I could have run the race without a problem, but at this point "better safe than sorry" is my mantra. I would much rather show up at States under-trained and healthy than not be able to toe the starting line at all. States is the prize, and my eye is on it!