Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Humbolt Redwoods Marathon 2016 Recap

Back in 2011 I got the opportunity to run in the National Redwood Park and it was AMAZING!

I knew I wanted to go back and run in that area again, so when I found out about the Humbolt Redwoods Marathon I immediately started trying to talk my friends into running it with me.

Mostly I just talked them into running the Half Marathon, but that was good enough for some carpooling and hotel sharing:)

Dennis, Katie, Katie's cousin, Michele and Melissa and I were all amped to run through those amazingly beautiful trees!

Then the Wind Storm of the Century hit...That's right. The same weekend that we planned to run through giant trees is the same weekend that they predicted the tail end of a Typhoon hitting the PNW. (Flash backs of the Oregon Fall Marathon/Half Marathon 2013.) I was worried that the race would be canceled at the last minute and honestly the response I got  of "We don't cancel for anything!" didn't instill that much confidence in trusting my safety to them.

Dennis's wife Linda was game for the drive despite the high winds and driving rain. I am SO GLAD I wasn't driving. The drive was horrible and took about three more hours than it should have. She is a rock star. Katie's cousin, Michele and Melissa decided to stay home since (for some reason) they didn't want to drive for 10+ hours only to be pelted in the rain for hours on race day.

The race is a smaller race of 1200 runners split between the half and full distance. About 400 runners ran the full. Packet pick is at the starting line, which doesn't have an address. They kind of give directions...but not really. We found it fine though.

The morning of the race was a bit rainy, but nothing like we were expecting. Honestly I think we were all expecting to be buffeted by the wind and drenched by the rain within minutes of arriving so a light drizzle was welcome.

All of the racers huddled under the bridge at the starting line while we waited for the signal to start the run. In case you were wondering that signal was "Ready...set...go!". This is one of the reasons I love smaller races:) It cracks me up!

The course is entirely paved, although the quality of the road changes dramatically as soon as you break off from the half course. There are a LOT of pot holes and the tree routes have pushed the asphalt up to create an uneven running surface.

For most of the half course the trees were large, but not "Redwood large". There were multiple groves of trees that were as large as you expect but overall the Avenue of the Giants was a bit disappointing. BUT within about a mile of breaking off for the full marathon course the trees got HUGE! if you want to run to see amazing Redwoods you should definitely sign up for the full. Unfortunately it started pouring almost as soon as I started this portion of the course, so I have no photos of these amazing trees.

Dennis had registered for the full marathon but due to his hip seizing up at mile 9, so he dropped down to the half. While the course for the half is well maintained it is VERY banked for a large portion and it put a lot of strain on his hip. He definitely made the right choice, because the course just got rougher.

Miles 14 through 20 are decidedly uphill and you leave the protection of the trees in miles 18 though 22. That kind of sucked because of the rain and wind, but if can only complain about 4 miles of a marathon, I think you're doing pretty darn well. The only other thing to mention is that their aid stations aren't well stocked. Water at all of them, Gatorade at a one or two. Oranges and some other random food item are all they hand out. I carry my water and food, so it didn't impact me, but I could see it being an issue for a lot of runners.

And of course if miles 14 though 20 are uphill that means miles 21 though 26 are downhill and that's pretty awesome!

It rained on me for the entire second half of the race. And when I say "rained" I mean it poured. In the last 4 miles of the race I was so wet my ear buds kept slipping out until I got so fed up I just pulled them out and decided I would just run in silence. I seriously don't know how people deal with those little devils. (I normally don't run with music.) I spent more time messing with my ear buds and playlist than I care to admit.

Tip: Double check your play list before you start. You might have accidently added three religious lectures that would randomly start multiple times during the race. Their voices are SO super relaxing and is the last thing I want to listen to during the last miles of a marathon. I need something to pump me up, NOT relax me.

One of the fun things about hanging back with Dennis for the first half of the race as well as the fact that it's an "out and back" course, is that I got to pass a bunch of people, as well as see the front runners tearing past. Humbolt has a bunch of running groups/teams that were well represented.

Overall I really liked the race, but I probably wouldn't drive 10 hours each way to run it again. The trees in Cresent City are WAY better!

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