Monday, December 31, 2007

Year-end mountain trail marathon at San Mateo

Mileage: 26.4 miles
Running time: 5h 23min
Average pace: 12:14 min/mile
Overall elevation gain: 4800ft

Runners: Charlie, Keira, Greg, Lambert (LT), Robert S, Eric Kosters, Eric Klingsporn (EKP), Kirk, Dmitri

Course: We started from Morgan trailhead on South Main Divide Road. From Morgan trail we turned onto Tenaja Falls trail, then south Tenaja trail to Tenaja trailhead (where we refilled our bottles), and then ran back to Bluewater trail. After that we took a Crazy-Lambert shortcut to the north Tenaja trail and finally reached the Four Corners. After we ran down the Bear Ridge trail we split into slackers that ran down Bear Canyon trail to Charlie’s Jeep (26.4 miles option), and super-nuts that when all the way back to the Morgan trailhead and ran 30+ miles overall. 99% of course was on single-track trails.

Most spectacular part: Tenaja Falls trail. It was pretty flat, running through a dense forest with several streams crossings. The streams where mostly dry, all covered with huge white boulders. The falls are nowhere close to Niagara, but the view from the top was magnificent.

Most memorable part: Crazy-Lambert shortcut to North Tenaja. It is a mountain trail abandoned by deer and mountain lions for its steepness. Why would one want to waste time doing switch-backs if you can just short-cut it running straight to the mountain top? Every time we were reaching something that looked like a summit, we saw yet another portion of the uphill in front of us. Not sure about the elevation in the canyon at the bottom of it (1000ft?), but our elevation at the end of it was over 2900ft. As good as Lambert is about itineraries, someone should do a reality check after him each time.

Most painful part: North Tenaja trail is covered with overgrown dry vegetation and thorny brush. You have to run through it while it peels your skin of your legs. At least it felt that way. We all ended up with a lot of cuts after running through it.

Most enjoyable part: Candy store and a croissant cheese and ham sandwich I bought there after those 26.4 miles. I do not recall being as hungry as I was after this run! Ever! When we were running Bear Canyon trail down to the Candy store I basically saw a bunch of visions of various burgers, double-doubles, hot dogs, and other food :)

Just to give you an idea of how beautiful these trails are:

The OCTR gang led by Keira to Tenaja falls:

Turtle-like boulder above Tenaja falls:

Tenaja Falls trail:

We are at Tenaja Falls trailhead. Keira is milking the pump while Lambert is entertaining the crowd with a little striptease:

Chaz is showing off his knee:

More photos from the run:

San Mateo trails, 29-Dec-07

Here is Greg’s recap from our run: Link.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Super-early pre-Christmas run at El Moro

We have had a wonderful run in El Moro on Sunday. At first I thought no one is going to show up at all. Then Mike K signed up on the condition though that the run should start at 5:30am. After Mike mentioned he would bring his famous cannabis brownies, few more brownies lovers signed up for the run too: Charles and Keira. Also Mike invited over a friend of his – Matt.

At the end of the day this Mike’s brownies thing turned out to be a scam and we did not get any. As Mike explained after the run it was a joke. I totally agree with Chaz on this: “There are a few sacred items you don't screw around with in ultra running: someone's hydration bottles, all Garmin products, trail shoes and fricken brownies.”

The day started with four of us impatiently dancing together in chilly morning dusk waiting for Keira to show up. The temperature at the Ridge Park was about 45F. As Charlie noticed, if it were a guy we had been waiting for, we would have been gone for good long before that. But Keira was worth every second of the wait. I did not have a chance to meet her before but just heard a lot about her from OCTR folks. Keira turned out to be another "Energizer bunny" constantly cheering and energizing everyone around her – very similar to iMichelle image I got after I ran with her in Aliso/Wood. Later on when we hit BFI and El Moro ridge uphill, and I lagged behind everyone and switched to walking, Keira waited for me and kept cheering me until we reached the top of it. Thanks to her I managed to run it up this time!

But when we started the run it was still pretty dark there. Mike and Chaz had headlamps. They turned out to be pretty handy on the Pacific Ridge trail, which had a couple of moderately technical downhill sections that would have been a bit tricky to get through with no lights at all.

After we reached the PCH and made a turn on BFI, I saw Chaz and Keira abruptly stopped staring at something on the trail. That something turned out to be a couple of empty Starbucks cups left by some careless hikers by the trail. I would normally just pass by not even paying attention to some trash in the park. Not these guys though. They picked up the cups and argued for the next 10 minutes who will have an honor to carry them out. Finally after the caps were properly smashed and loaded into Chaz's backpack, we went on.

After we reached the top of El Moro, Keira became restless and kept running back and forth every single little side trail or anything reminding a side trail at all. She recalled some magnificent down-hill switchback she ran down there with Kevin once before. We did not find it but the whole back-and-forth exploration process was quite a fun just by itself.

This is what we looked like when we finally hit the Bommer Ridge:

The first loop around Crystal cove was over 10 miles. After that we returned to our cars to refill our bottles. At that point Keira told us she was tired - something no one probably ever heard from inexhaustible Keira ever before - and opted out from the second loop. She had an excuse through - she had run 30 miles with LT just the day before...

We did our second loop on that spectacular side trail leading from the Bommer Ridge down to Laguna Canyon. I am not sure about the names of trails and canyons though in the north-east part of Crystal Cove. Probably this is the one reffered to by Ryan as Mudslinger Scramble.

Anyways while we were running there Charlie was entertaining us with various stories interrupted from time to time with short commercials about his new grey running bra with cupholders for Starbucks cups:

Our final mileage was: 18.3 miles
Overall time: 3:24:20
Average pace: 11:10 minutes/mile

More photos from our run:

El Moro Run 23-Dec-07

Sunday, December 16, 2007

XTERRA Crystal Cove 15K

XTERRA Crystal Cove 15K, December 16, 2007: Link
Place: 69 (out of 214)
Bib: # 345
Distance: 9.3 miles / 15 km
Net Time: 1:25:33
Average Pace: 9:12 minutes/mile
Elevation Gain: about 1200 feet

Start line

Dmitri, Lambert, Martin

Finish line

Lambert and Martin

Martin and Dmitri

I set a new distance PR today – I ran the shortest race in my life - 15K. My first race ever was Saddleback Half-Marathon in 2006 and I never did anything shorter than that. As I have never been exceptionally fast I did not even plan to do any of those 5K or 10K races.

XTERRA seemed to be cool though but when I heard about it, it was already sold out. And then all of a sudden I saw that Pete Vara’s post at our club’s web site about the unique once-in-a-lifetime XTERRA free entry opportunity.

The only thing is that I had to run there as Pete Vara. As Pete is faster than I we agreed I will disguise myself as “Pete Vara with broken ankle” so that no one would notice a forgery as I cross the finish line an hour after Pete would cross it if he were not out of town this weekend.

I went to pick up my bib on Saturday at Fleet Feet in Laguna Niguel. They did not find Pete on the list for some reason, told me that I do not look like him at all, and that they would need to break my ankle for real if I keep bugging them.

I went home with a relief as I did not feel well and did not run at all since Tuesday. Oh, did I mention I got a terrible cold that got worse after inhumane Ridgecrest weather? Still I sent a quick note to the real Pete after I came back – just in case. To my surprise Pete managed to settle the things up, and I got my bib the following morning.

I met Lambert and Martin at the drop bag area, and then later at the start line another OCTR member Kiko and two mudslingers – Ryan and Diego.

At the start line we were reminded that earbuds are not allowed during this race as they are “anti-social”. Well I already had my iPod on me and headphones with big ear cups. They had absolutely nothing to do with the forbidden earbuds and I put them on – partially in order not to hear Lambert who was desperately trying to convince me they are illegal.

As the race started the temperature went up abruptly and I started to feel overdressed. Or probably it was not really the temperature but the fat big incline on El Moro Ridge (aka BFI). This was brutal. I kept running for the first mile, and had to walk most of the second one – which was a quite embarrassing thing to do taking into consideration that it was just the 2nd mile of a short 9-mile trail run. I was so worn out by the BFI, that by mile 4 I saw a vision of Sue running in the opposite direction :)

After I passed the mile 4 I started to feel I am enjoying the race. Not sure whether it was cause my PowerGel dissolved in my stomach, or cause at last I got warmed up, or cause the BFI was eventually over, or as I was listening to one of my favorite Apocalyptica songs at the moment, or all of the above :)))

Bommer Ridge and Pacific Ridge consist of a lot of small ups and downs, and I was anticipating the big downhill on the last 2-3 miles of the course. The downhill turned out to be less steep and not without some unexpected uphill sections that did not make it to the elevation profile graph. Still it was enjoyable anyways. It is the first race when I got disappointed and almost discouraged when someone shouted that finish is just around the corner. I sprinted the very last downhill section to the finish line at around 6:30 min/mile to pass by another runner I had been chasing for quite a while.

My final time was 1:25:33. Not as fast as I expected. But good enough for the first place in the category of “Athletes with broken ankles” :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007


For quite a while I was under impression that ultra-running is a pretty young sport that did not exist before Karno published his Ultramarathon Man book. Well, I am slightly exaggerating the level of my ignorance, but it is close...

Another thing I was kinda sure about that ultra-running is mostly American sport that got some limited traction in Europe lately. I was completely shocked when I found out several months ago about Ultra Trail Tour du Mont Blanc (UTMB) 100-mile race that draws over 2000 athletes to the start line every year. I actually lived for almost 3 years within just 30 miles from those trails in Switzerland and never heard about this race!

Anyways I came across today a profile of William Sichel, a Scottish ultra-runner. What really struck me is that he did Monaco Six Day race, where he ran… hold your breath here…
503 miles / 810 km

It does not change my definition of nuts though. Whenever it comes 3-digit numbers (100K, 100 milers, or even 50 milers) we are talking about folks that are seriously nuts and there is no better way to describe them :)
However running 503 miles is as crazy as it gets!

Now a quick historical note:

Did you know?
The Six Day race reached a peak of popularity in the late 1800's - the pedestrian era - with regular major indoor races in London and New York. The Scottish Indoor Six Day record dates back to 1882 and was set in New York by George Noremac (or George D. Cameron to give him his correct name - Noremac is Cameron spelt backwards and was his professional name) - 912.9km / 567.2miles!

You know what else is completely crazy? William holds Guinness World Records on a treadmill: 100 miles in 24 hours. I do not survive on a treadmill longer that 20-25 min and really hate this thing…

Sunday, December 09, 2007


(Darn, I overslept my Sunday's long run! Again!)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Uphill Battle against Ladera Reservoirs

I found a nice place in Ladera Ranch to work on my uphill running performance. This is a little stretch of paved road behind Mercantile East shops. It is only 0.3 miles from the entrance gate to the upper gate at the reservoirs with about 220ft of elevation gain.

After I ran it back and forth five times – 3 miles / 1100ft elevation gain – I got completely sober from my dreams of the new Twin Peaks 50 miler. We will see how it goes but most likely the first Holly Jim ascent will kill me early enough to even get a glimpse of the second one :)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Twin Peaks press leak

There has been a press leak that the new Twin Peaks 50M is going to become one of the toughest 50M courses in the world and the only race in trail running history that features two crazy Holly Jim climbs on the same course. And it will have 17,000ft of overall elevation gain too.

Although it all still might not happen I feel captivated with the idea and will be honored to DNF there even if it happens on the 21st feet of the 1st Holly Jim climb :)

The only downside is that for some slow folks like me the trails running race will end up in a painful trail hike. I was murmuring (a lot) about Gary Hillard’s ruthlessness during the last 5-mile climb of Mt. Disappointment, and it was only 50K with just 5,600ft overall elevation gain! What will I be thinking of Jess during and after Twin Peaks then?!

By the way Jess’ 50K is not going to be a vacation on an island either: only one Holly Jim, but still 11,000ft of elevation gain. I cannot understand myself: why does it sound like fun?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

High Desert Recovery

We ran our standard 5K early in the morning today with Irina. And it felt even easier than usual. Less than 2 days after the race and I feel like I almost recovered already. Well at least physically, but not mentally yet. A part of me got stuck in the High Desert still running somewhere between the Wagon Wheel crossing and Pack Rats. A warning for all of those who did not do this Ridgecrest race before: beware, it is highly addictive!

By the way, I stole a couple of new watermarked pictures of Steph and me on the High Desert 50K course. They were all taken somewhere around the 1st aid station. Although the resolution is not very high, it is evident that I am high and need some professional help. I would call it High Desert overdose syndrome :)
P.S. Steph, you were right: I need to throw away my camera and buy a new one. All the photos I made turned out to be too dark for some reason - although none of them was made against the sun.

Monday, December 03, 2007

High Desert 50K at Ridgecrest

Executive Summary :)

Initially I planned on writing up a pretty quick recap from this race. But as it all happened just yesterday and I am still overwhelmed with it (and a part of me is still running on those trails unwilling to come back to the reality), the whole thing turned into something bigger than I expected. Here is a quick summary for those folks that value their personal time high enough not to go through the whole story:

High Desert 50K, December 2, 2007: Link
Place: 66 (out of 226) - Overall results
Bib: # 83
Distance: 31.1 miles / 50 km
Net Time: 5:27:49
Average Pace: 10:32 minutes/mile
Elevation Gain: about 2200 feet
Blisters: 0
Black toe nails: 0
Running Shoes: my old Asics Gel-Trail Attack II with 550 miles on them

1. The Road to Ridgecrest

Ridgecrest was supposed to become my second ultra. At least I hoped so despite all the odds. I developed a terrible cold just a week before the race. I guess these were those chilly streams in O’Neal Park, and running in wet shoes to blame for it. Feeling all sick and congested I started to contemplate whether it is reasonable at all to go to Ridgecrest feeling like that. And all of a sudden I am getting that sad email from Jess that Twin Peaks is cancelled this February. So I was thinking if I DNS Ridgecrest and will not have Twin Peaks – the two races I had been anticipating since my first ultra in August – it would leave me with just Leona Divide in April... Long story short, despite my cold I decided to go to Ridgecrest and see on the spot what it looks like, crossing my fingers and toes I will feel better.

As Ridgecrest is an over-three-hour drive from OC, we booked a hotel there. The official race hotel – Heritage Inn – was already completely booked – and I had to pursue other options. The only other 3-star hotel at Ridgecrest was Econo Lodge with some spotty reviews and low rating on Travelocity. How bad can it be if it got those three stars, – I asked myself when booking it? Well, I should have trusted those reviews in the first place and consider some of the 2-star options! The receptionist was totally unfriendly, inflexible about delaying check out for a couple of hours as they did in other places (despite the fact that the hotel was mostly empty), the lobby and the room had a look and feel of a cheap motel… The only advantage of this place was that the room was spacious and clean.

Ridgecrest looked pretty huge when we approached it and saw the city lights spread all over considerable territory. But it turned out to be mostly one-street type of a city: all the shops, hotels and restaurants are located around the China Lake Blvd, while all the other streets seem to be residential. After we (that is my dear support team – Irina and Sonya – and myself) checked in we easily found the race HQ at St. Ann’s school, where we got my bib, a goodies bag with a very cool long-sleeve race shirt with a cool tarantula picture on it, and had a carbo-load dinner over there kindly organized for the runners by the St. Ann’s perish. After that we paid a visit to the local Starbucks (we are all Starbucks addicts including Sonya) and local K-Mart where Sonya got herself a new winter jacket.

Did I mention that it was dead cold at Ridgecrest – something around 30-35F – and pretty windy too? I was really wondering back then whether I was doing the right thing participating in the race. It’s definitely my coldest run so far :)

2. The Start

Next morning at 6am sharp Stephanie and Thomas picked me up at our hotel’s lobby. I was really happy I did not have to wake up my wife and daughter that early to drive me to the start. If I were Karnazes I would probably just run up there as it is only 6 miles from the hotel, but last time I checked I had a different last name, and 50K still was a big deal for me as it is – without adding an additional 10K to it :)

The start/finish area is located at the sports complex of the local college at the city’s south foothill boundary. The morning was less windy than the evening before, but very cold. After we took the-last-still-alive pre-race pictures, I put on my headphones and listened to Apocalyptica for a while to charge myself before the race. I could not take my iPod mini with me as its battery does not last any longer than 4 hours anymore.

The race started in the morning dusk at 7am. I was wearing shorts, two technical long-sleeve shirts and gloves. It was very cold but I was hoping it should get warmer after the sunrise. Most of the runners were wearing long-sleeve shirts, jackets and/or sweaters. A lot of folks were also having on long tights under (or instead of) their shorts. There was just one tall long-haired guy (no, it was not Greg) who did not have any shirt at all. I was getting extra cold just looking at him :)

3. The First Half of the Race

I caught up Stephanie within the first 5 minutes into the race, and ran with her for quite a while. She was wearing the same brick-red race shirt as I did, black shorts and Asics shoes – again just like me. I guess we looked like twins in our matching outfits, although when I said it aloud a couple of guys noticed the Steph is a much more good-looking twin of two of us :)

We were running at an average pace of about 10:50 minutes/mile. I felt very comfortable, almost like ready for the second 50K lap after we finish the first one. The view was as spectacular as it gets. We were running through the hills in a mostly-flat valley surrounded by distant mountains lit up by morning sun.

The air was crisp and clear: no smog, no fog, almost no clouds. We could see pretty distant mountains up to hundred miles away from us. I started to get a weird feeling that we were not running but flying though those hills: if I had seen anything like that before, it was always from an airplane window.

Between the 1st and 2nd aid stations we caught up a runner who twisted her ankle just 6 miles into the race. She could barely walk and told us she was planning to DNF at the next aid station. As I was on the peak of my race excitement I felt especially sorry for her. Unfortunately I did not ask her name and do not remember her bib number – so I cannot say if she managed to continue or had to drop out from the race. There were only 4 DNFs out 351 runners, which is incredibly low!

4. The Second Half of the Race

Almost every time I am running a race I tend to perform well and burn out during the first half of it and really struggle painfully crawling to the finish line during the second half. This time I decided to really keep myself under control and run the first 15 miles conservatively. I constantly felt that urge to run faster but succeeded in ignoring it for the first half of the race reminding myself of my crippled OC Marathon and Mt. Disappointment experience :)

Around mile 14 when we hit another long uphill and everyone switched to walking, it became more difficult to trick Steph into running with me. At first it was enough to run uphill in front of her and get my camera out. Once she saw that camera she always was starting to run fast towards me either to look nice on my photos or to really beat me up for fooling around. However at some point this thing stopped working and I had to continue the rest of the way on my own – as it turned out later just a little bit ahead of Steph.

Half into the race I still felt full of energy. Although I had a couple of big up-hills to go, there was nothing you could call a “climb” in front of me. Once I imagined that it was little different than just an ordinary half marathon going forward, my fun flying-over-the-hills run ended. I got kinda competitive and started to count runners I was passing by, which kept me both entertained and motivated. By the time I crossed the finish line I counted 64 of those. I was ready to subtract from my sum anyone who would pass by me but it somehow never happened.

One of the most challenging of the runners I was chasing there turned out to be … Shelli! I was running after her on a long ascent for good 15 minutes before I managed to catch up. She looked very strong as if she were running just a 10K trot or something like that.

At some point I managed to catch that tall long-haired guy who was running without a shirt. He was #56 on my list as far as I remember. He is a much faster runner than I am but got injured and it slowed him down.

Somewhere 20 miles into the race we noticed huge puffs of black smoke in the valley. It looked like a big intense chemical fire that was put out and started again, then put out again, and so on. It was pretty far from us – at least 30 miles – but we could clearly see it. The only logical explanation I could come up with was Martian invasion – I recall similar puffs of black smoke in Wells’ War of the Worlds. But in reality it turned out to be just a bunch of tests of the local firefighters that were trying different fire retardants over different types of fuel.

5. Aid Stations

The course was extremely well marked with blue-yellow ribbons and huge white arrows. There were absolutely no crossroads or side trails where it would not be evident straight away where to go next.

The aid stations where located almost every 3 miles – there where 9 of those along the 50k course. I guess I could easily survive it not carrying any water with me at all (I had one 20oz hand bottle with Gatorade) – just like most of the folks do during road marathons.

All the aid stations where perfectly packed with drinks, food and extremely friendly volunteers. Are not volunteers always friendly during those trail races, by the way? – I bet they are, but I was so knocked out by heat and crazy climbs at Mt. Disappointment that I did not have a chance to notice that :-)

This was also the first time when I could easily eat solid food during a race. I had a bunch of salty potatoes on most of the aid stations. Plus I was using those Clif Shot Bloks too. Usually I have a problem even with gels and after mile 15 into a race (or even a long training run) I cannot eat anything anymore…

Three last aid stations had a lot of Christmas decorations and ornaments all over the bushes. One of them had a sign “Sorry, No Beer!” Another station had a couple of beer bottles on the table, but I am not completely sure they where actually serving it to runners :)

6. The Finish

The finish line was a bit confusing. You can see it and almost touch it as the sports complex is in front of you. You pull yourself together, run as fast as you can thinking it is the finish line, but then you get diverted around a stadium. All right, now you recognize the road and know exactly where the finish line is, but you are diverted again and need to run around a huge parking lot with all the cars to get to it.

Usually it gets easier if you have a GPS and know how far you might be from the finish. But it did not work for me this time – my Garmin switched off about 10 times during the race and lost about 3 miles of the course overall…

On the last stretch of the course – right before I found out I need to go around the darn parking lot – I met Irina and Sonya. Irina was happy seeing me as one piece and much earlier than expected. Sonya did not even recognize her dad at first – probably did not really come as one piece after all :)

I was not sure about my time but I knew I broke 5:30!
As it turned out afterwards my final time was 5:27:49.
Oh, did I mention that it is my PR? I was destined to PR in Ridgecrest. It was the second 50K in my life. And as my previous 50K time was a snail-like 7:55, it was not that difficult to improve it – especially at Ridgecrest.

Shelli and Steph both broke 6 hours too and finished in 05:37:16 and 05:52:53 respectively. Evidently Steph picked up too and set a new PR as well.

The race was won by Jorge Pacheco who came in 3:31:41, and there were 6 other guys after him that did the race under 4 hours.

Another great thing about the finish line was … that hot shower at the college gym. It was the first race in my life I drove away from dry and clean :)

7. The Aftermath

In terms of the aftermath this race is pretty unique too. I was running in my new Injinji socks (thanks for the great advise, Jess!). Plus I covered my feet with Bodyglide in every spot I have or used to have blisters. Whether it is the former or the latter the result is incredible. The first race I got neither black toe nails nor blisters.

In a word I had a bunch of first-ever race experiences including this longest race recap ever - and I should say you are totally nuts if you had enough patience to get up to this paragraph :)

Another thing is that I can walk today – even down stars. I am pretty sure I was running as fast as can during the second half of the race. Does it mean I am getting used to this thing and I will not be crippled for over a week after each race as I used to?

How painful an average after-race recovery should really be in order not to feel like a slacker after a race?

8. My Goals

I had three goals for this race: the secret one, which was 5h; the real one = 5:30h (I managed to beat this one); and a conservative one just in case something goes wrong = 6:30h.

Another “bonus goal” I had was to run all the up-hills and completely refrain from walking. Apart for a couple of minutes when I was sipping Gatorade from my hand bottle, I was running all the time. This is certainly not a big deal as there were no steep climbs, but still feels like an achievement.

As a conclusion I would like to add a quote I proudly stole from Sarah’s blog the other day:

"The tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach." -- Benjamin E. Mays

More pictures from the race:
High Desert 50K, 2-Dec-07

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Forthcoming Rat Race in OC

As the Twin Peaks has been officially postponed till November 2008 in best case, I tried to locate another race somewhere nearby in February:

The best I could find so far is the Orange Curtain in February 2008.

Basically it is a 3 mile course (or 10K out and back) you do either 5 times (shorter 50K variant of the race) or 10 times (if you are completely nuts). "100K" sounds totally scary to me as it is a three-digit number. But if we convert it into miles the number becomes more reasonable and manageable: “just” a 60 miler with a couple of bonus miles at the end :)

Overall elevation gain is “blistering” zero as the course is completely flat :)

I will totally miss mountains and all the scenery but on the other hand no need to carry camera all the way (or otherwise constantly regret I did not care to take one).

This should be something similar to those 12h and 24h rat races.

The best part of it the race is held in Cerritos, which is pretty close to us.
The worst part – I never tried anything like this before but I guess this out-and-back course should bore me to death :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fall in O'Neill Park

No, I did not fall. I meant "autumn". And it is totally spectacular in O'Neill Park :)

I had my last “long” run before the Ridgecrest race in O’Neill Park today. Well, it was only 8 miles, which qualifies as a long run only during a pre-race taper period.

As much as I tried I did not manage to keep my feet dry there - thanks too all those streams you have to cross in the canyon.

There is no shortage of poison oak in the canyon either. It is bright red this time of year and you can even enjoy seeing it all over the place - as soon as you don't get into it :-)