Marin County IMO is the most scenic place in this part of the world. Had run part of this course last year and was astonished by beauty of this course, this is a hidden treasure, known to very few runners/hikers /bikers in Marin, one easy access to these trails is from Tennessee valley.
Accidentally came across www.headlands50k.com site in July 2005 and was thrilled to find this race covers Coastal trail, miles and miles of trails besides Pacific coast and much more. Checked with Our Coach Rajeev and within minutes got his response and we registered. I had hiked some parts of the course and was well aware of the scenic course.
Got a very good 4 hr sleep, woke up at 4am and did the usual sanity check, usual dose of calories in terms of peanut chutney, balle-annu and in the process disturbed my better half who was trying to get some good sleep before her 19 miler.
Rajeev picked me up at 5:10am, next 1 hr drive we just listened to Golden classics of Rafi sahib. Rajeev rendering his voice intermittently.
6:15 am race check-in, picked up few goodies and spoke to some fellow runners, filled up the fuel belt with goodies for the course. This course mainly had 7 hills, I call them the Saptagiri course. This time had decided to take a camera but was foolish enough to pick one with only 6 reels..!!
Race started sharp at 7:00am from Rodeo beach, first quarter mile was on sand, could see the small hill ahead which passes through the rodeo lagoon, and joins miwok trail. Next 10 miles we were roller coasting, most of this section was foggy and couldn’t see much of the valley from the top.
At mile 10 we hit the Muir beach aid station, this is the start of 3 rd hill called the Cardiac hill, didn’t seem as bad as the name suggests, Rajeev and me ran part of the course, chatted with few other trail runners. That’s one of the interesting aspects of trail running, it is a very close knit community, you meet a runner and almost instantly you strike a bond, you exchange experiences and sometimes run the entire course with a complete stranger and in the end you have a friend.
Mile 13 we reach the cardiac hill aid station, we re-fueled and awed at the Number 1 runner pass by mile 20, Rajeev humored him and asked him topace him on his fast walks J
Soon we reached Pantoll, which took a toll on our dear knees, took Matt davis trail all the way down-to Stinson beach. 4 miles of scenic but brutal downhill section, usually I like downhills , its like putting yourself on cruise control and chugging along, but this was quite difficult, had to be very cautious to avoid those low tree branches and walk those steep steps. first time could feel some pain in my knees and Rajeev seemed to have some problem with hip flexors.
3 hrs 50 mins into the race we hit
We had to climb our way back to Pantoll via steep ravine trail, exchanged few notes with Ironman lady and her plans to do WS 100 next year. Incidentally she had met Kiran/Padma a week before at 50k race at Salt point. This climb had some rewarding views, just walking into jungle with creeks andwater-falls besides the trail and absolute serenity all around.
Mile 20 we reach Cardiac hill, I felt lot better after the 3 mile climb, hiked all of it and ready for next 4 mile downhill section, which is a series of switchbacks to Muir beach one of the scenic parts, pacific ocean displaying its assortment of colors.
Mile 25 at Muir beach we see some familiar faces, volunteers out their all recognize Rajeev as the indefatigable soul and person to cheer them up (usually it’s the other way)
Next 3 miles to
Passed the last aid station at
At the end of 900ft climb, we had another 100ft to the one of peak points, which offered almost 270 degree view of pacific coast, later we realized we had a short cut to this point, race director fooled us by suggesting a round-about route!!
Last 4 miles Rajeev was very strong, he seemed to be enjoying every moment and ready for another couple more miles. It makes the course lot easier with a runner like him behind you cheering and offering advice. Probably wouldn’t have run this course if he hadn’t signed up for this.
Finally after about 7.5 hrs of scenic adventure we passed the finish point.
Its great to run with friends like Rajeev, Kiran and Padma. Though running seems to be a solo sport, to me it is also a team sport, you pull each other during different points of highs and lows.
Running to me is all about Scenic courses. Very glad to have found Trail running and fortunate to be in this part of the world. This race had some of the best volunteer support. Hats off to those self-less souls.
They will have lot better day with more cheerful runners like Rajeev. Still remember some volunteers cheering us and shouting at our man “here comes the fun guy”
Course pictures at photos.yahoo.com/anil_krao