Zen and the art of race directing
A few weeks before I left for Cool, California’s Way Too Cool 50K, a famous trail race ...
photo by Joe McCladdie
A runner cresting the final hill before the finish.
A few weeks before I left for Cool, California’s Way Too Cool 50K, a famous trail race with nearly 800 starters, I was rattling on about the predicted perfect weather, 98-percent singletrack course when my boyfriend, Jeremy, asked me what races he should add to his calendar. I had just enthusiastically listed a few California races when Jeremy said, “Why does everyone pay so much attention to California? The Midwest and East Coast have some really great races, too.”
True, they do. Growing up on the East Coast, I spent loads of time in the heart of the Appalachians and various green spaces between Kentucky and South Carolina. I adore the East Coast’s rolling mountains, the smells, the seasons and the humid forests. I love running up its rocky, technical and steep mountain trails.
But when it comes to trail running, California steals the spotlight—it is a trail-running Mecca jam-packed with trail runners. Radiating around the Marin Headlands, trails and trail races are endless. In fact, one could even argue that competitive trail running started here, in 1905, with the running of the first trail race in the United States, the Dispea.
In 1974 Gordy Ansleigh ran the entire Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run when it was still a horse race. According to most ultrarunners, Ansleigh founded U.S. competitive ultrarunning ... in California.
I signed up to run the Way Too Cool 50K in January, because I wanted to escape our Colorado Rockies’ winter and get in an early season ultra to build endurance for the mountain-running season.
From the gun, I was flabbergasted at how incredibly cool the Way Too Cool was. No wonder 1200 people enter the lottery each year! Race director, Julie Fingar, should be applauded. (I suppose if you live in a state that has been putting on races for over 100 years, you must learn a thing or two).