By: Drew Dinan
Somewhere around mile 45 two more runners caught up to me. They weren’t the first to catch me in this section. A few miles earlier I had gotten it into my head that my legs just couldn’t run anymore. I was slowed to a walk, or was “Miwalking” as I kept thinking, a futile attempt to laugh at myself and change my attitude for the better. Only, the joke wasn’t very funny and it only served to dig my hole even deeper.
“How’s it going,” I asked the runners.
“My downhill legs are shot,” one replied, a common complaint at this stage in the Miwok 100K, a course that can beat up your quads with over 12,000 feet of climbs and descents along beautiful Marin County trails, in the San Francisco Bay area.
“Just keep moving,” he said. “You look good. You’ve already run 20 more miles than us today.”
Confused, I asked if they were out doing a training run, or if perhaps they had volunteered earlier in the morning and were getting in a few miles after their shifts.
“Didn’t you hear? A bunch of us missed the start of the race due to a downed powerline blocking the road. We’re out here making the most of it since we flew all the way from Montana to get here.”
Immediately, I knew I was lucky just to be in the race. My new trail friends, as well as many others, had trained hard and traveled far and would kill to be in my position. It was time to start running. I picked my head up and pushed the long downhill into the Randall aid station where I knew I would get to see my wife and one-year-old son.
The 2018 Miwok 100K featured ideal race conditions (temperatures were in the low 60s for most of the day), amazing volunteers, stunning scenery and unfortunately, a number of runners who missed the start of the race due to an accident which blocked the road just two miles from the starting line in Stinson Beach.
THE RACE: Franz van der Groen defended his 2017 Miwok title, beating out second place Chris Jackson in what appeared to be an epic battle all day long. Misha Shimyakin took third. On the women’s side, Megan Arauzo ran the third fastest Miwok time since the 2012 course change to take the victory. Emily Sabo took second, and Coral Candlish-Rutherford rounded out the women’s podium.
THE VOLUNTEERS: The Miwok 100k had some of the best volunteers I have ever encountered at a race. I can’t say enough good things about the aid station workers, course marshals, post-race volunteers, and race directors. Not to mention the bagpiper who greeted runners in the fog atop Cardiac Hill early in the race—a truly memorable experience!
Heading back up the climb out of Randall, my thoughts turned to a friend who I had yet to see on the trails. The final 20-plus miles of the Miwok course are an out-and-back where you get a chance to greet all of the runners in front of and behind you.
I glanced at the faces as they passed, hoping to see a familiar one. Unfortunately, I did not see my friend and presumed she was one of the runners forced to take a DNS (Did Not Start). I found out later that this was the case. (Read about her experience here).
As I made my way towards the finish I was reminded yet again of why I love the trail running community and ultra-endurance events. I suffered through miles with new friends who were strangers just hours earlier; I shared stories and struggles and cursed with other runners at the steep and technical Matt Davis trail (a tough way to finish a race); I witnessed the kindness and selflessness of fellow runners who stepped aside on the narrow Coastal Trail to let me pass, despite fighting cut-offs; and I got to take in epic views of the San Francisco Bay from high above.
At the finish line my wife handed off my son, Dean, strapped into his umbrella stroller. I think he knew it was not meant to be used a running stroller as he held on for dear life as I raced across the finish line. Fortunately, the wheels stayed on (both on the stroller and on me). It was the perfect way to end a difficult but amazing day.
From my experience, Miwok 100K lived up to its reputation as a great race. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging and beautiful day on the trails.