|Preparing for the 50k start|
According to mapmyrun.com, the 25k course was over 15.7 miles with 2500ft of accumulated altitude gain, double that for the 50k. On fire roads, through dried out creeks, hopping through smooth boulder out-crops and along engaging single track switchback trails, this course literally has it all. The views along the ridge overlooking Hidden Valley and the Pacific Ocean on the opposite side was a sight to see. Each aid station was well stocked, supported and sight for sore eyes after each segment. The final aid station was located in a shaded grove right next to a creek crossing a couple miles from the end of the course turning out to be a good place to take a dip and hydrate before continuing with the rest of the course. However, before one could finish, they had to get through the deathly hot single track switchbacks where it hit well over 100 degrees before coming out the hills towards the home stretch.
|Getting ready for the 25k start|
The heat was present in full force as it took it out on participants in numbers, causing many DNFs this year. I brought two 20z running NF bottles but only took one with me which turned out to be much too optimistic. After 2 hours of climbing uphill my left calf started cramping. Looking back, there's a lot of should have's, like I should have brought up both water bottles and spent more time at the aid stations. I had to bear down between aid stations as I ran low on water twice and with mostly exposed trails, it was one of the toughest runs I have ever encountered. It pushed me to my limits.
At one point along the last stretch of the single track switchbacks temperatures hit above the 100s which only increased my resolve to finish the course, as quickly as possible since I had crossed the 3 hour point. I simply couldn't get my body temperature down to continue at pace and early leg cramps had slowed me down already so I tried to enjoy it as much as I could. As I jogged/walked the last couple miles I could hear a number ambulances coming in and two helicopters in the air above me. Through all the heat, dust and 15 miles, I was able to smile as I passed a group of park rangers on horseback sweeping the trails. This Bulldog was well worthy of becoming a major accomplishment.
The 2011 Bulldog has become a conversation piece in the community. The volunteers, ambulances, the helicopters, the sweepers, the rangers and race director supported the event incredibly well. I tell my friends at one point towards the end I thought I was going to be in a really bad spot and had pushed myself harder than I thought I possibly could. I am constantly surprised by how strong and compassionate people can be in the trail running and ultra running community. Looking back at it all, I can't wait to do it again. Everyone who finished worked hard for their medals and those who didn't can still say they did something that most would claim is simply crazy. Next for me is likely the XTerra Trail Run series which start off on October 16th, I'm already itching to run it.
Dave's blog at Wonderful World of Dave also recaps the 2011 Bulldog with more pictures.