The inaugural Peninsula Relay Challenge would have been ripe for complaints, if it wasn't such a perfect weather day and good group of racers who didn't really care who finished where. As it was, an imperfect race became a really enjoyable morning, so who cares about accurate splits, course directions or wins.
My friend Mark talked me into this, he's a big stand up paddle guy. The race was a 10k SUP (which actually ended up being 5 miles) from Appletree Cove to a pretty little private beach in Indianola, where I took over for a 12k trail run (with some roads) to the White Horse Golf Course, tagging Brian, who rode 10k on a mountain bike and some roads back to Kingston Adventures. There were only like 6 teams and 5 solo racers, but that ended up being plenty.
I warmed up for 12 minutes or so and then Mark tagged me as the third off the board. I was at least 3 minutes behind the first kid, who was one of those local 17-year-old XC runners who I dread racing against in August/September. The other guy was 90 seconds ahead of me, but in the shuttle over he confided that he hadn't run in 3 weeks at all, and 8 miles is his longest race ever. So I figured I could catch him. I didn't know how many times I'd have to catch him.
After running up the beach and across the driftwood, the race joins a really nice, moderate and shady trail. There were a number of little wooden bridges over what are usually wet spots, but it's been dry so they were no problem. Lots of twists in the path as well. I caught the guy in 2nd about 7 minutes in, after the first hill. I figured it was me chasing the high school guy, and I had no idea where he was.
On to the first road stretch, then back into the forest. It really remained shady, which was wonderful on a warm morning (it's 80 here, which is like an oven for us). Through the trails, down a gravel road and then back on trail, then another asphalt stretch through a neighborhood. I missed a turn somewhere here, and ended up screaming down a big neighborhood street which, I didn't realize at the time, was near the Indianola Beach, and the mid-point aid. I hit a T in the road and saw no markers (the markers had been a little iffy up the that point as well, almost missed a few already). So I started to run back up the hill, until I saw a woman in her yard. I asked if she'd seen runners, and of course not. So I sighed, resigned to an extra hill climb with no idea where I was -- and then the woman goes "You mean those guys?" And the leader and guy I had passed once were headed down the street that mine T'd into. Somehow the guy in third had cut the course and passed the leader and me. Catch-up #1.
So I caught them at the aid, and then we headed out on the beach, which I didn't know was part of the course. 3/4 of a mile through the sand and rock and some kelpy tide pools, so we got wet and I passed 2nd again and got right up behind the leader. Luckily a girl the leader knew was standing at the point where we turned back onto trails, I would have been completely lost without her.
On the trails I stuck behind the leader, maybe 20 yards behind. We crossed the highway and got back on trail, then after cresting a hill I caught him. There was a split in the trail without ribbons or a chalk mark, though a permanent "trail" marker pointed right. We rolled the dice, and were wrong. We ran at least 10 minutes on this other route, which dropped us right back on the highway, maybe 40 yards from where we had been 20 minutes earlier. So back into the woods, back up the big hill for a second time.
After that detour we were behind three runners, and I thought the gentlemanly thing to do was stick together. So the kid and I settled into a pace, talked about his season, and just enjoyed a nice run. We caught one one the streets through Suquamish, and he happened to be the guy who designed the course. Guess what we asked him about?
Then the trail leveled out, and I had a sense we were somewhat close because we were over 50 minutes. The kid's mom or someone was there yelling at him to beat me, so I decided the sportsmanship award was back up for grabs. I took off, and left him pretty quickly. After spreading out the gap, the trail turned onto a power line trail that was wide, rutted, overgrown, rolling and in the sun. It was a little rough to finish on, but I trucked through. I caught another guy who I hadn't seen all day, and then picked off the young guy for the third time, maybe 400 meters from the finish. Rolled in and tagged Brian with my watch at 1:07. I have no sense of the distance, so I'll guess that we added a mile.
Brian lost ground to three guys on the bike, and we ended up third overall for teams, and behind one solo. Of course, he also got lost. The race director was real apologetic, he blamed it on someone else but we laughed it off. Kingston Adventures had plenty of pizza waiting, it was beautiful and full at the Kingston Marina, so I went home happy.
Also, it was good to run a longer tempo run backed up against yesterday's longer run. It was good to catch and beat a kid who's been training for XC, and hold him off. I've got a marathon in a few weeks, so I'm trying to squeeze in some training like this.
brooks cascadia 6