Monday, July 29, 2013

Table Mountain 27k

                As I came through the Cardiac Aid Station for the second time with roughly two miles to go I glanced behind me and saw third place exiting the woods less than a hundred yards back.  I had already given up on the win when I entered the aid station and was informed that I was nearly 5 minutes behind the leader, which had shocked me slightly.  While I was not having my best ever performance I was certainly not having a bad day. 

                The trip started well, with a great pre race run the day before where I previewed some of the course, ran down the beach, over some boulders and inadvertently through a naked game of Ultimate Frisbee.  The race had started well too with a steep climb up from Stinson Beach.  After leading for about a mile I could feel that everyone but one competitor had dropped off the pace as we climbed through the early morning fog.  Temperatures were perfect and just as the race began to thin out we broke out of the fog to see the top of Mt. Tam ahead of us with an ocean of clouds sprawling beneath us.
  Just as we broke the clouds Galen Burrell passed me and while I maintained my pace he destroyed the remaining mile of the climb.  I saw him briefly about a minute ahead of me at the top and that was the last I would see of him until the finish.  I ran solo for a while as the coastal trail cut its way across the mountain to the first stop at Cardiac Aid Station.  By the time I hit the aid station I had been caught by three guys and we proceeded to FLY the next several miles of descent.  There were countless switchbacks and the four of us stayed pretty tight all the way to the bottom.  We all stayed close until the final climb on the Dipsea Trail where I was able to regain my runner up position and give myself some cushion.  Then right before the top I got sick like always and by the time I crawled into Cardiac the second time I was not sure how much energy I had left.  When I saw third place come out of the woods right behind me however I got a second wind and took off.  I knew that most of the remainder of the course was downhill so I held nothing back.  The trail was fairly smooth and except for a few hairy sections on the stairs, and there were lots of stairs, there was nothing to slow me down.  By the time I exited the Matt Davis Trail at the bottom my legs were trashed but I could look back and see empty trail so I knew I was safe.  I cruised the remaining 400 meters or so to finish crossing the line in second still well under the old course record, and only 50 or so seconds ahead of third place.  Galen it turned out had finished 5 minutes ahead.  Knowing that it wasn’t my best day I would like to say that I could have competed with him had I felt better but honestly that was one of the more impressive performances I have seen and I know I have a ways to go before I could have contended with him on that course.  After the race I hung out for a while with the other competitors and enjoyed the post race food and drink.  Then I hopped in my car and headed up highway 1 towards Point Reyes.  I had seen pictures on Google of a waterfall above the ocean that I was reasonably sure I could find.  I found the trailhead 20 minutes later and walk/jogged the four miles out to the falls.  It was a steep climb from the trail to the beach at the bottom of the falls, called Alamere Falls according to the sign, but it was worth it.  This was definitely one of the more beautiful places I have been in my life.

I relaxed on the beach for a bit went for a swim and then headed back to Stinson for dinner.  I was going to relax for the rest of the night but the coastline was so beautiful that I had to keep exploring so I parked up on highway 1 south of Stinson and climbed down the ocean.  For the next couple hours I climbed and navigated boulders along the water’s edge as I took pictures and headed south.

I finally found a destination in the form of a huge rock jutting out from the mountain and after a steep climb using ropes left by other adventurers before me I reached it.  I sat there for a long time as I watched the sun set and then hiked up to the highway and headed back to my car. 

By the time I reached it I felt like I had run an ultra but all the beauty I had witnessed was worth the soreness.  It was nearly 10 when I reached the car and I crashed for a few hours in the back seat before heading back to San Francisco for the flight home.  I should have been tired as I wound my way back highway 1 but somehow I felt incredibly energized and alive by the early morning air streaming through my windows.  I could smell the freshness of the sea, feel the adrenaline of my recent adventures, and the excitement of heading back to my wife and soon to be born son, and in the moment, life was good.


  1. Wow! Gorgeous landscape. Congrats on a good run.

    1. Thanks! You guys will have to come out to the TNF championships out there some year!