My second training race of 2018 was the FOURmidable 35.5k on February 18th. I had never run an event hosted by Paulo Medina's Singletrack Running. I was not disappointed! Focusing on trail running events "utilizing trails that are not common to most runners", STR has built a reputation worthy of their motto: "if you are going to do something difficult, you should never find just the easy way."
The FOURmidable Running Event covers two days in mid-February, and offers a 50k on Saturday with a 35.5k, half-marathon and 13k on Sunday. Not quite ready for a 50k yet this year, I opted for a slight increase over the Foresthill Divide Loop 30k I ran two weeks prior and went with the 35.5k. Friend David Leeke signed up for the 50k and nailed it, finishing in 17th place!
Sunday morning dawned brisk with a slight breeze; perfect running conditions. The trail was in great shape, not dusty, just a little tacky and very little mud. Beginning on familiar trails, I kept the effort in the "training race" range and made my way towards No Hands Bridge. The FOURmidable event is built around four (formidable) climbs: Cardiac, K2, Knickerbocker and the final climb into Overlook Park. The 35.5k eliminates Cardiac, leaving a THREEmidable course. Almost immediately after the No Hands aid station, the course climbs up the Western States Trail and takes a hard right. A REALLY hard right. K2, or "Training Hill" is a ridiculously steep pitch cut into 3-4 sections. This was where I first learned of Singletrack Running's sadistic sense of humor. At the top of the first section, written in flour on the trail, were the words:
"You made it to the Top!"
And then, about ten yards later, was written:
"Just kidding, not even close!"
Each of the formidable hills had similar messages scrawled in the dirt. Near the top of Knickerbocker was written "Only ONE Midable left", which I suppose was good news. On the return to Overlook Park, I knew there would be a loss of elevation before the final climb. The course took an ominous left turn onto steep singletrack which brought us almost all the way back to river level from Robie Point. Every step down equaled a step up, and there was some carnage on this section. People were spent! The trudge up to the finish line caused runners to coalesce along the climb, commiserating. An anti-climactic finish, but we jogged it in.
|Running into Knickerbocker Canyon, looking at the old dam cut|
In the end, it is hard to beat the trails of Auburn Recreation Area. So many of us would choose to train there on any given day, it is no surprise that FOURmidable is a well respected and attended event. I'll probably be back in the future. I can hardly remember the climbing already!
Currently training hard for the Marin Ultra Challenge 50k in early March. See you out there!