Right after the North Face Endurance Challenge I signed up for the lottery to participate in the Miwok 100k which is a race a little longer than the NFCE but not by that much (100K is 62 miles – only 12 miles extra!) so I felt it was within reach if I kept my training about the same and even built on the acquired endurance leading to NFEC. What really attracted me to the Miwok ultra is that it was in the same area as the NFCE. I was enchanted by the Marin Headlands in December and I wanted to go back. In addition, my ultra friend André de Castilho with whom I ran NFCE wanted to do it too.
And one week after NFCE I received an email stating: “Congratulations, you have been selected to participate in the 2012 Miwok 100K.” I feel pretty lucky this year with race lotteries (I also got into Pikes Peak Marathon which is not really a lottery but it’s pretty random as the online registration gets clogged).
This is the most beautiful run I’ve done. The course was described as “Very hilly (approximately 12,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain) with spectacular views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Tamalpais, Tomales Bay, and the Point Reyes National Seashore. Modified out and back. Mostly fire roads and single track trails with approximately two miles on roads.”
I haven’t raced much in 2011. I think I was a little burned out from all those Ironman events. I engaged in other things, mountaineering and trail running (see previous Trans-Sierra-Express post). I enjoyed staying away from the crowds and the commercial buzz of all races. I had signed up for the San Francisco marathon to run with a friend but he broke his foot so I skipped.
So I really entered only two events this year but they were truly unique. One was the Amsterdam Marathon that I ran with my son and the second was the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miles trail run. Both runs were truly special. I wrote about the Amsterdam marathon previously. Here’s the NFEC race report!
The NFCE 50 miles run takes place just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A majority of the course covers run-able fire road (very little technical single track) overlooking the Pacific Ocean with occasional glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here is the map and most of all… the elevation chart! The course was actually 51.2 miles and counted over 10,000 feet of climbing.
The area is a protected area. We saw very few roads and man-made installations. Coast Miwok native Americans used to live there, in harmony with nature I suppose, until the invaders exterminated them. It was a constant theme that was recurring through my mind during the run: this is the Earth the way it’s been for a long time, people lived here, it was simple. Simple like running barefoot through nature!
My older son is born in Amsterdam fifteen years ago. Since we live in the US we went back to Amsterdam a couple of times and I promised we would back when he would turn 15. We did go back when the was 13 on a lark to watch the Soccer World Cup Final on Museumplein (we were in France already). They lost… And one day we became aware that the Amsterdam Marathon was one day away from his birthday (some years exactly on his birthday) so I asked him if he would be interested to do it. And he said yes! A perfect example of someone who jumps into their first marathon and doesn’t know how painful it’s going to be and that’s great! I did my first marathon when I was about 16 and I actually walked the whole time – and I couldn’t walk for one day!
Amsterdam marathon is pretty flat! It goes all around the city and out of the city too. Interestingly enough it doesn’t go through much of the inner section of canals. It goes out to areas I have never visited in the south (I lived in Amsterdam for a while). The course starts and ends at the Olympic Stadium. In essence: easy course with no hills – perfect for a first marathon.