Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rundown: 2015 Big Basin Marathon (#25)

Full set of pictures here

I ran this race back in 2011, a version run by Pacific Coast Trail Runs, rather than Coastal Trail Runs. I ran the 50k that time and finished in a grueling 7:50 being under trained for all the up and down.

Both races are the same, and run from Skyline Drive down through redwoods and chaparral through Big Basin state park to Waddell (pronounced "Wa-Dell" ) beach on the Pacific.

I was not much better trained this time, but I had done some mid-day running to acclimate to the hotter weather than normal we've been having and that stood me well I think..

Race day temps in Big Basin state park called for 80F....not great. 

As you can see from the map below, it is a point to point race, which I love. Basically you start at Skyline and say "Let's go to the Beach!" ..except there is 26.2 miles of rugged but beautiful terrain between you and the ocean ;)

Unless you have rides lined up it takes a while to start the race: I got up at 5pm and drove to the parking lot on the water by 6:30. Busses load up at 6:45 and it takes a full 85 minutes to go around all the mountains and come up from santa cruz to the start.

Some folks are being dropped off and all the registration, etc happens at the start and so you don't start until 9am, which is pretty late, especially if it's going to be a hot day. 

the RD (Wendall) told us that last year at 9am it was over 80F (!) Yow. 

The elevation profile below shows what it's like ..people that don't run trail marathons look at all the downhill and assume it must be easy.  But alas, mostly the hills are not runnable ..there are technical sections with steepness, steps, rocks, tree routes, etc that keep you from really being able to harvest the downhill energy.

Instead, you just blow out your quads..

At the start I met these two guys, Steve and Matt and had a nice time chatting with them. They were running the 50k and made it fine...but I'm sure it was HARD.

This sign shows the way: we run Skyline to the Sea trail all the way....

Me at the start. For a change the R.D. called for all fast people to move to the front..there is a lot of single track in the race, especially at the start. There was a big crowd and many 50k-ers.

I did the first mile in 20 minutes because of crowdiing..but that's ok. It's a long day, and the initial downhill makes people go out too fast. (or at least me if I'm not careful)

Up we climb through the redwoods. It was not as cool as it should be at this hour.
I was walking all the uphills, determined to not burn myself out before the last 5 miles which I knew from last time would be a real slog .

I was not doing the 50k this time, but I also wasn't that well trained...only doing 30 miles a week or so lately and no runs over 12 miles. So easy does it.

The gazos aid station where people that are doing the 50k branch off and then end up back here after 5 miles of up/down hell.

This is Sam, he caught up to me after doing the 50k loop (Fast!) but then stayed with me for a while and we had a nice chat in the redwoods. Eventually he felt better and took off ahead.

Crossing the stream. Not much water in the river compared to 2011.

During the last few miles i saw an older guy in front of me that was really dusty. He also had no water belt or backpack or handheld...and it was a bit warm by now...75+ in the shade.

I asked him if he had fallen and yes he had. He also had no water...this was his first marathon and apparently he didn't know that there would not be aid stations every couple of miles. (!). Sigh. Some foilks don't read up.

Anyway I gave him the rest of my  water as we were only about a mile from the aid station that was 1.8 miles from the finish.

I also ran into Sam again, he was having some foot problems (blistering?) that he said were due to his socks being too thick.

I really like my silk sock liners...uber thin and no abrasion. I had also covered my feet with vaseline and that worked well.

I was not able to run all the time, but I felt pretty darn good...much stronger than the 50k last time.

Finally we climb the last set of hills and emerge with a view of the Pacific! Whoo hoo!
Down we go and finish in a meadow about 1/2 mile from Waddell Beach.

Love the medal and shirt with the Big Basin logo!

Finished Marathon 56 out of 68

Marathon #25 done!


  1. Thanks for posting this Paul! That was a great race.

    I wanted to get in touch with you about that trainer you recommended that helped you get sub 4. I pinged you on G+ - hopefully you get that.

    Good times!


    1. Hey Matt,

      You guys did good..I saw you finished the 50k about an hour after
      me! I would have been complete toast if I had done the Gazos loop.

      You can find Jill (the coach I used) at

      A trainer can push you in ways you would not figure out to do yourself. They have seen it all before. Also they can rearrange your schedule when things interfere in a way that makes sense so you don't have to scratch your head. You just follow the schedule.

      You learn how to eval your fitness with benchmark runs too. i.e a half marathon time trial 3-4 weeks before a marathon race day. Really good for judging fitness for a specific pace.

      Cheers! Hope to see you at a race sometiime. Let me know if you are doing anything around here.

  2. Thanks Paul! I just signed up for the UROC in Auburn in Sept - doing the half marathon. Then it's NYC Marathon in Nov and of course the CIM in Dec.

  3. Paul!! Great post!! Enjoyed reading about this run. Thanks for that silk sock liner for a tip. Congrats:)


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