“Shadow of the Giants” is one of the few trail races around here (California) that you can enter without submitting to a lottery, doing trail work or achieving a qualifying race – strange really because it is a gem. Host Baz provides a relaxed atmosphere and, as an expat Brit who has spent time in Australia, is very welcoming to people from the “homeland”.
It’s billed as a 50k but turns out to be almost 34 miles. Every step of the course is runnable provided you have saved a little for the climb back up from the river crossing at mile 27. This year temperatures were pretty ideal with mid 60’s/low 70’s. Actually anyone out longer than 6 hours may disagree since they would have got a good drenching from the thunder showers that rolled in.
The race takes its name from the giant Sequoia trees, up to 3000 years old and the first time you see these giants it’s a real stop and stare moment - the trunks of some approach 20ft in diameter.
Having run the race last year I realised that this would provide good evidence as to my relative speed and was not expecting to like the results. From the off I was feeling the mild altitude (around 6500ft), puffing and huffing and my legs did not feel strong. Sometimes this is a good thing – strength builds after the first few miles and the day is good. This time it just felt like a lot of effort all the way but I was pleased to hold it together relatively well and came home in 4hrs 52mins – only about 5 minutes down on my 2008 time. Still good for first over 40 and a medallion to cherish :)
A finishing burst !!
Lynn went strong and consolidated her return to running form - slower than she remembered having done in the past but completed in good style and with a smile!
With a group of local runners we stayed over at the Forest Camp and ventured into Yosemite park the next morning for a quick circuit of the Nevada/Vernal falls loop. At this time of year the waterfalls are at their most spectacular and the “mist” trail should really be renamed the “drench” trail.
On the mist trail - Yosemite
Back at home it was a good weekend for my buddy, Tim Laney, who completed the set of “rounds” with a 23hour and 17 minute Paddy Buckley round done in fine style with low key but experienced support. Over the same weekend, Tom Gibbs was mounting a challenge on my Paddy Buckley record time of 18hrs 10mins. On a very hot day where he struggled to eat, Tom managed 18hrs 55mins to record the 3rd fastest time overall.
The plan now is to head off to Donner/Tahoe area go get a couple of good hill days in my legs – long days, lots of up and down. Shortly after that a quick return to the UK and then I will be out with Jez Bragg – showing him the Western States course and hoping that he has the kind of run he is capable of. I will be pacing a new but superfast guy in the race – assuming I can keep up – Eric Johnson is local and has a 6 hour 50 mile time to his credit but this will be his first 100 miler.