Monday, February 11, 2008

Scouting the Skyline Ridge 50K Course

On the slate for Saturday morning (2/9/08) was a trip up to scout out the Skyline Ridge 50K course. The race is three weeks away and I was very curious to see the course that Chikara Omine blitzed to a 3:55 course record.
I was first in the parking lot at Skyline Ridge OSP. There were long shadows as the sun crested the hill.

The first part of the 23K section heads south and dodges in and out of the Tree Farm. It is easy to lose the trail in this section as it undulates steeply up and down.

Melting pumpkins and corrugated steel

The Ridge Trail crosses a number of roads, each with a barrier to cross. The Woodside 50K had trees to jump over and the Skyline 50K has it's own hurdles.

After running on the Ridge Trail in open meadows the trail turns slightly and plunges into the forest. Soon the trail turns steeply up and I found myself walking through tall douglas firs. I reached the top of the hill somewhat disapppointed with myself for not running this section and I turned around to do it again. A few miles further on, the trail suddenly passes through a gate and I popped out into brilliant sunshine with a breathtaking view of the Pacific. It is moments like these that make me glad to live in California and thankful to be able to get to places like these.

The run was not without its challenges. Those of you who have run the Skyline PCTR 23, 37 or 50K before might not recognize the intersetion in the photo below. That is because it isn't part of the course! I looked over the course description and the map before I departed and thought I knew where I was going. The trail signage was ambiguous in some places but to be honest I didn't committ to memory every turn on the course, nor did I carry a map. After many wrong turns I certainly have a great understanding of where the course doesn't go.

Evidence of Mountain Lions?

The 14K loop was equally spectacular. I left my water pack, shirt and camera in the car and ran the 8+ miles at a good clip. It is very runnable but with some slightly longer climbs than the 23K out and back section. Overall I found it hard to settle into a particular pace. I was discussing this with Ryan C. over IM last night and we agreed the course forces a runner to constantly shift gears. I think the competitor who can do this without losing focus will have a great race.
The list of entrants includes some familiar names and some relatively famous ones like Jon Olsen. I look forward to racing such another beautiful and challlenging PCTR course.


willgotthardt said...

As you know, I was out there with Ryan a bit later that morning, the course kicked our butts...that may be my spine you came across, thanks.

With that said, I'm gunning for the CR in the 14k, then watching the 50K race develop from the Vista Point A/S, where I'll be volunteering through the early afternoon...looking forward to it.

Will G.

T Clarke said...

I'll bring the big camera for Skyline. I'll be sure to get some pics of the 14K course record holder!

willgotthardt said...


Yeah I tend to aim higher than my capabilities...we'll see.

Will G.

Sarah said...

Hey, Thomas - just wanted to give you a 'heads up', 'cause we got the following from our good friend, Pete, today:

"Some friends of mine had their car broken into at Russian Ridge this last Friday. They started their hike at 8:30 in morning and when they returned a couple of hours later their car and all four others in the parking lot had windows smashed and contents removed even tho nothing was of value was visible from the outside. After talking to the rangers up there, they said that Skyline Ridge was hit in a similar fashion that day and it is an ongoing problem.

It sounds like they are not taking much time as they break in whether or not anything can be seen from the outside. My friend had a hidden gym bag stolen with only some clothes and 20lbs of weights inside. My guess is that they did not flee on foot!

Just letting you know cuz you do have a run up there soon and people may be going up there to train in advance. I would suggest that they take all valuables with them. I would even consider leaving the doors unlocked to prevent the window smashes."

Sarah (PCTR)