Perfecting the back flop at Deception Pass 50k

Lots of loops in the course, but great scenery!

Just skip down and check out the photos if you don’t feel like narrative. It’s ok. I do it too.

I had a great time volunteering at the inaugural Deception Pass 50k last year. But I remember feeling a little jealous watching the smiles on runners as they passed by…it is possibly the most scenic 50k (at least with respect to water views) of any ultra in the pacific northwest.

Just a couple hours from Seattle, this is where the Strait of Juan de Fuca connects with the Saratoga Passage. You are basically running parts of the course on two different islands, crossing between them on this crazy bridge that draws tourists from distant lands. The HMS Discovery charted this passage in 1792. Far below the bridge, the tidal currents can cause phenomena like standing waves (wikipedia).

The course looks amazing however one studies it; snaking around seaside bluffs, twisting and meandering on semi-technical trails through all sorts of scenic landscapes including some beautiful forests.

So it was nice to return this year and actually run the course on Saturday. I felt really good throughout the run and wish I had pushed myself a little harder. For some reason I didn’t eat, carry/drink water, or listen to music for the first ~14 miles. I staggered these treats out for the next 8 miles which made for some positive intermittent reinforcement and then I cruised (with one bump as you will see) the remaining miles.

Crowd listening to pre-race briefing about deadly cliffs and rocks.
Nice touch.

It was great to run into some friends within the line-up at the start. These folks (below) are a little crazy about endurance running. Van ‘Pigtails‘ Phan and Matt Hagen are the two sole finishers of the Washington Grand Slam of 100 milers, completing all five this year including some 100m+ distances at the Pigtails Challenge.  I’m sorry I only got Betsy Roger’s shoulder in this picture, but what a shoulder (far left)! She just finished her 100th marathon+ a couple months ago. I met Craig Foster (behind Matt) at Ron Herzog 50k a couple years ago in the infamous Tank Traps and have crossed paths at many other runs. And Eric Barnes is probably the first person I ever met in the PNW mountain running community. His friendly heckling gave me fifth wind at mile ~93 of Western States in 2010. All have interesting stories about how and why they started running. I wonder how many of their co-workers know what they do on the weekends? This holds true for pretty much everyone else in the crowd. What they do inspires me. Thanks.

 Van, Matt, Craig, and Eric. And a lot of other nice people.

And we were off! The course had short stretches of beach, but mostly we were on single track trails on bluffs or in the nearby woods.

You can see the bridge in the distance
The view back from the bridge was amazing, as well as the currents below. We ran along most of the shoreline visible, between Whidbey and Fidalgo islands. This picture was from volunteering last year.
Looking west into Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca

As is the case in a lot of runs, I played leap frog with Eric Barnes for the first 22 miles or so, but ultimately he left me in the dust. Thanks for the conversation Eric!

The views rarely stopped.

There were great aid stations. Thanks everyone for volunteering, especially Pablo, Mike, and Lars!

And thank you for the chocolate covered marshmellows and other amazing goodies…

Back in the day, I used to be able to do a full flip in the air while running. Turns out, not so much anymore. In my own defense, there were some extenuating circumstances. Thanks to Glenn Tachiyama for these pictures at mile ~30. Click through them fast or scroll down for the full effect!

Somehow I bounced back up and managed to make it the last mile to the finish with some of my dignity intact. The crowds were not exactly waiting for me, true to form James Varner was there to give me a high five. Inside I found beer, food and friends. What more can anyone ask for?

Congrats to Gary Robbins and Megan Schorr for taking first place male and female. Matt Hagen for first place loser, and for everyone who got out of bed to run. Especially to Toi Wright for finishing her first 25k! (thanks Chris and Toi for hosting us Friday night). Much thanks also to Rainshadow Running for another stellar course, all the volunteers, and for Pablo Cabrera for making the journey with me and volunteering. And to the skies for not raining.

4 Responses to “Perfecting the back flop at Deception Pass 50k

  • You got some nice shots too! I didn’t realize Lars was out there – he must have been out on the 50k course I bailed on…I met him up at Lumberjack a couple of years ago. I love that this race community is really pretty small when it all comes down to it.

    Great work on your race!

    • Yep – I think the aid station Lars was at was the 50k. I got pretty turned around after a while. I ran the Lumberjack 2-3 years ago. That is a small run! See you at another…

  • Best photo set ever!

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