Chuckanut 2012 recap

I had a pretty fantastic time at this year’s Chuckanut 50k. Most of my recent race reports have taken one of the following formats:

  • nearly exhaustive (and exhausting to read) details of the race
  • never documented / published

I’m going to try to bridge the gap and get this one out and just focus on some highlights. In approximate order through the race experience.

  • Registration in January was a success! I know what you’re thinking “Hey dumbass, didn’t you just say you were going to focus on highlights for a race you did YESTERDAY? ‘registration’ is not a ‘highlight’.” But this is kinda important. The 2010 race filled up in ~3 hours and I got shut out. The 2011 race filled up even faster and I got shut out again (then waitlisted, then in, then injured and had to miss).  So it *was* a highlight to make the first cut this year!
  • Sign in and bib pickup went smooth and was a great opportunity to hobnob with some of the ridiculously smoking field from this year’s race.  The patchouli washed over me as I opened the doors to the spa where checkin was held and I instantly knew at least one runner from Ashland was present who would finish well ahead of me. After being told my bib was the number of my all-time favorite TV show, I realize the women’s CR holder is right behind me at checkin. I instantly forget my number, ask for it again (stalling, hoping she’ll decide checkin isn’t worth it, bail on the race, and I can hope to finish one place higher – it doesn’t work) and move on. This expo has free chocolates, Clif bars, chomps, and way more useful stuff than any marathon expo I’ve been to.
  • Dinner at the Olive Garden is exemplary, as usual.
  • Race morning I’m a wreck and terrible company for Katie on the way to the race.  She won’t concede that I’m being a jerk, which only makes me more frustrated. 30 MINUTES TO SHOWTIME!!!
  • 8:00 I’m through the portapoties, notice a breathright strip and crooked hat combo and the burrito guy in the green wave start corral.  I do some quick mental math and figure them + the people I saw from last night + one Joseph Roosevelt Creighton = I’m probably finishing 6th, tops.  Should be a shoo-in for top 10.  I call my bookie and we’re off!
  • 8:05 Top 20, for sure.
  • 8:55:20 I roll into Aid Station 1 and am feeling good (despite the rain) after running comfortably on the first 10k – not going out too fast at all.  My cheering leprechaun is there, I’m committed to having a good time today, not destroying my body, and pushing harder toward the end of the race (if I’ve got it).  The trail leaving the aid station is a nice, easy, runnable trail with a gentle climb – some single track, some bridges around Fragrance Lake. Some people are already starting to walk, so I cruise by.  There are beautiful sections of this run in the quiet snow. Also: it’s getting cold.
  • 9:36:48 I get to aid station 2.  This is surreal – first, I’m not positive I know who Eric Barnes is, but I think I just saw his leprechaun-doppleganger on the course.  The entire crew at this aid station has outdone all reasonable expectations for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (I’m personally flattered!) and my personal support crew made it through the sloppy rain, too. I am lucky.  I hobnob again, get passed by dozens of runners who don’t bother waiting around as long as I do, and I’m off again.
  • 9:55 many of us are nearly run off the road by some lunatic in his Subaru.
  • 9:57 another runner and I are helping rock the Subaru out of a ditch but not until signing forms ensuring us free digital prints for life.
  • 10:11:12 I reach aid station 3, no real idea what my pace is or what I’m on track for in the race (not to self: may have slipped to top 25 by this time?), but still having a good time, though I am definitely losing sensation in my fingers. I meet Terry’s wife who is part of the crew and very nicely cautions us that it’s a ways to the next station so to stock up now. I stuff some extra cookies in the pocket in my bottle and I’m off.  This next section of the course could be described as “technical,” “hard,” or “totally awesome.”  I was having a blast moving as fast and crazy as possible while barely on the right side of “safe.”  I probably wasn’t going very fast vs. the leaders who were here, oh, and hour ago, but I did pass a lot of people and I don’t think anyone passed me.  This was the case for a lot of the course – I got passed a ton at aid stations but not a lot while I was moving and I passed a lot of people while I was moving. At least this is the polite lie I’ve built up in my head to console myself over my finish time (which I promise is coming-remember, these are the highlights!).
  • 11:20ish My gloves are soaked, my hands are freezing, and I can barely get out an electrolyte capsel around here.  This is kind of a drag and I’m feeling it and it’s showing in my performance.  Also, this is just boring, snowy “slog” – not fun/dangerous/technical.  Eventually, we reach a descent that goes into aid station 4 which is back below the snow line (translation: raining) and I’m feeling a lot better.
  • 11:43:51 I’m at the base of Chinscraper. My good luck charm is there to great me and saw Joe go through, too, but doesn’t tell me how far behind I am (“a lot”).  I snack, notice a bottle of Bushmills that has been getting way too little attention, do my part on the bottle, and I’m off – feeling GREAT!
  • 11:59ish I see Glenn and Win and have been TEARING it up Chinscraper and figure this is the Sun Top equivalent of Chuckanut and am stoked to have made it and be feeling so great!
  • 12:20ish Damn you, Bushmills, how much more of this climb is there???  After finally finishing the climb and starting the descent, I slow to say hi to Terry (who’s filming), and Kevin (who’s tearing down the aid station) and continue the descent on toward Fragrance Lake Road as fast as my quads will allow (translation: appallingly slowly).
  • 12:37PM I’ve made the descent down the road and make it to the 5th and final aid station where I chillax for over 5 minutes, snack on something that I still can’t believe was a vegan candy bar, decide I want a red gummy bear – then change my mind (and my support crew helps me not let it go to waste) and eventually start back the interurban trail.
  • 1:44:00PM after some struggling, a little stopping to visit, seeing one runner collapsed on the side of the road (and already getting the assistance he needed), passing and being passed by other runners and ultimately finding the strength to run basically all of the final 4 miles moderately respectably – I cross the finish at Fairhaven Park in barely under 5:44. And – get this – they are reviewing runner bibs, calling us out as we come to the finish!  And pronounce my name right!  This is all unprecedented, to me.
So that’s my slowest 50k to date.  I might have been in the top 200 – just barely fast enough to not be a disgrace to the green wave.  The course was fantastic.  The support on the course from the organizers and O’Katie were as good or better than any race I’ve known.  Freezing in many parts, ridiculously muddy for ~5 total miles, 10k of fast trails, very technical for ~3-5 total miles, and super, super fun throughout.  Krissy and all the volunteers put on an excellent, excellent race - I’d love to go back and run it harder, or just go back and do it again the same way.


  1. Adam Monsen said,

    March 18, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

    Come on, more about the mysterious “Olive Garden”! I’ve heard of this diamond in the rough, but I’ve never been there.

  2. Patrick said,

    March 19, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

    It was everything you’ve heard of and then some. I got the nutrition menu, so I mean “and then some” in the sense of “and another 40 grams of saturated fat.”

  3. Brian Maher said,

    March 20, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

    Thanks for the recap! Maybe I’ll give it a try next year if I can push through the 3 marathons I’ve got planned for this summer. Lately I’ve been choosing “Tiger Mountain” as my running play-ground, so doing an off-road race sounds appealing :).

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