On Wednesday, February 10th, Christina and I (along with Toblerone) drove 1000 miles to Orange County. What follows is our "vacation" that wasn't really. It was 1 week of Twin Peaks work, the culmination of all the work that went into the race before we even drove our first mile toward the promised land.
Wednesday was a "wasted" day as travel only – though I did work on the race in the car thanks to materials I had printing out before we left and my Droid Eris smart phone!
On Thursday we awoke to grab a cup of coffee and breakfast in beautiful Laguna Beach before starting our hectic day. It was already a decent day and the weather was supposed to get warmer each day we were there. Hooray! After last year's monsoon and near disaster it was welcome relief to me (and probably most of the runners)! Our day Thursday consisted of picking up a rental SUV (to mark the course and haul crap around – 1 SUV was not enough), shopping at 3 different places, grabbing a quick lunch and dinner and bag stuffing + food prep in Anaheim at Abbie's house. Thanks to the photographer (Sam), Abbie, Becky, myself and Christina – the process wasn't too painful but it would be the first of a series of nights that included very little sleep!
Friday morning we drove out to Corona and picked up the gate keys from the US Forest Service then drove to the start of the race where we marked the first mile of the course (didn't want anyone wandering into the Korean Church Camp though it turns out some later did anyway). We drove up to Main Divide & Ortega Highway after that to meet up with course marker super Heroes Bud Phillips, Therea Apodoca & Kimmi/Kim Overgaauw (Kim & Theresa would spent a long race day working the Santiago Peak aid station and Bud was running the race – see – super heroes!) . We loaded up in the rental SUV & Bud's truck along with about 125 gallons of water and made our way up Main Divide. It was a fun & bumpy ride. I was pleased that the roads weren't in horrible shape. I feared the worst with all the recent storms and wanted to make sure the roads were safe for the aid station workers to drive.
We dropped off Kim & Theresa at the top of West Horsethief so they could mark that section and up Holy Jim where we'd pick them up later. Bud drove ahead and dropped off water at Indian Truck Trail before going back down to pick up tables to come drop on the course. What a trooper!! Christina and I marked the course up to Santiago Peak and encountered some fun snow near the top. Christina dropped me at the top of Upper Holy Jim which I marked (with Tobey!) and ran back to the top of Holy Jim where the 4 of us reunited. Theresa and Kim said the marking went well and that no one would make the wrong turn going up Horsethief (a few did anyway The course marking was done so we made our way back down the mountain, enjoying the gorgeous weather and spectacular views.
Next up was the pre-race dinner. I didn't even have time to shower in between. Yikes! I showed up and we set up the goodie bag checkin in the parking lot across the street. There was some confusion and people came inside to get their bag despite me sending out a map that was labeled with where to park and where to get your bag. Next year I'll shoot for a place where we can do both at the same time to help alleviate the confusion. The dinner otherwise went well and lots of prizes were given out.
Saturday morning's wakeup time? 3AM!! When we arrived at the start around 4:15AM a few people were already mulling about. I quickly gave directions and got things rolling. First wave of runners would leave at 5AM.
The early morning hours were cold and went by super fast. By the time the sun came up it was getting warm fast (temps would be in the 70s later). The 10×30 tent I bought turned out to be 10×10 since it was missing a bunch of pieces. Nice. It did the job though. Everything went pretty well in the morning from checkin to pancakes and coffee, etc. After the last wave was off at 9AM it was time to relax (a little). My duties still consisted of coordinating volunteers so there was never much of a break.
Christina and I did manage to take a 30 minute break away from the race for a lunch at Subway in the nearby (small) shopping center. It was a great day to enjoy the sunshine an Tobey was playing nonstop!
The experimental "live" runner tracking went fairly well and I plan to step that up for TP2011. It's not something a lot of trail races offer (especially the shorter ones) but we need to bring this sport into the 21st century!
One of the biggest issues of the day (perhaps the only "real" issue) was that the Upper Holy Jim aid station was positioned at the top instead of bottom of the trail. This caused for some runner confusion at the bottom and many made wrong turns there. I did put out lots of info on the course before race day but when you are cruising along in an ultra your brain doesn't always register the way it should. Next year – we will have obvious signs at the top and bottom of that section to help alleviate any wrong turns.
The day moved along nicely and it wasn't long before runners started cruising into the finish. Alison Wenster in her FIRST ultra won the female 50K and was 3rd overall with a new course record. The 50K male win went to Dean Dobberteen and Evan Hone. Evan had a faster time but had dropped down from the 50M so Dean was the 1st "official" 50K finisher. They both got credit for first place and Alison was only 13 and 8 minutes behind them, respectively.
Japan's Hiroki Ishikawa took top honors in the 50 mile race as he tore up the course (while sick) and set a new course record. Remarkably his aid station split times where faster than any of the 50K runners to the same distances! The female win went to a surprised Shannon Hunt. The 50 mile course's difficultly did not disappoint again this year with only a 67% finish rate. Twin Peaks is one tough ultra (possibly the toughest 50 miler next to San Juan Solstice) and definitely one very beautiful course.
In the end we tried to pull some runners from the course who had missed cutoff times (8PM at Indian Truck Trail). One runner said he wouldn't quit and he (David Wolf) became the last (DFL) Twin Peaks finisher in 17 hours and 33 minutes. I have him a finisher's medal but next year will change that and if a runner won't drop, we'll grab their bib and they are on their own! Congrats to David for sticking it out until the end. Turns out he has quite the story that was turned into an OC Register article.
I'll spare some of the boring details that happened after the race was over. Suffice to say that we stayed busy with race stuff on Sunday though did manage a sunset Valentine's dinner at the Beach House in Laguna Beach.
Monday we had a few errands to run and looked at some grad schools for Christina before we drove up to Santa Barbara via Los Angeles & Malibu for the night.
On Wednesday we made our trek back up North by starting out on US 101. Turns out a few people had left things behind at TP and we were driving right past them! We dropped a drop bag in Los Alamitos and an iPhone and Camera in Arroyo Grande. The next day I'd return a drop bag to a Portland resident who lived not so far from my work. At Twin Peaks we give you personal drop bag delivery service :) Well… at least this year we did! We stopped briefly in San Jose to meet up with TP Logo designer extraordinairre Miki. It was good to see her (briefly) and hand her off a shirt and medal (part of her spoils for the design work) We then had lunch with Christina's sister in San Fransisco before driving 10+ more hours to get home around midnight.
What a trip! It was so good to be back in SoCal if only for just a week. It feels like home and I miss it. Thanks to everyone who made Twin Peaks such a huge success (runners, volunteers, etc). It was am amazing week and I'm still trying to digest it all.
I look forward to Twin Peaks 2011 (with Co-RD Brian Krogmann!). In 2011, entry will be tougher and the only signup will be for the 50 miler (there will still be a 50k "wimp out" option during the race).
Next up is to get myself back into regular training and get working on the Harding Hustle 30K for July 10th!
Happy Running & Dirty Feet,