This was my first time running Chuckanut 50k, and race 97, so I was pretty excited to get out there and see what it was all about. Based on the race reports and pictures from 2012 I was prepared for anything, as last year was wet and snowy on the trail. This year it was a bit dryer before the event and definitely not as cold. I was able to make it up on Friday before the race in enough time to pick up my bib (did not buy a shirt as I already have a closet full of race T’s that I eventually will have to start purging). I checked into my hotel, a modest place just a few miles from the race start and even had time to go out and do some quick shopping around the town. The night was great and I slept well and with an 8am start time it almost felt like I was sleeping in till 6am.
Getting to the start was easy and I was there with plenty of time to debate what to wear. It felt almost too warm for the outfit I was currently wearing, but I knew that I would be grateful for an extra layer or two when I climbed to the top of the mountain. We were sent off right on time without a hitch and it was pretty dry for the first ½ of the race. The trail was a bit crowded, but in true ultra style everyone was pretty laid back and it didn’t cause any issue- we had 31.5 miles to sort everything out. I settled into a nice pace and just took in the beauty of the trails around us and felt happy to be out there enjoying a wonderful day. I was very thankful to start out the day with dry shoes that lasted all the way up until about the midpoint. We had started our first large climb and that went over pretty great. I chatted with a guy from Canada about running, ice hockey, and life in general and it made for a fun time up the hill. After the aid station we parted as I knew I would need more time and to take care on the single track ridge trail. I was right, but it still did not prevent me from taking a pretty good spill rolling my right ankle and coming down hard about ½ a mile into the ridge trail. It hurt pretty good, but nothing too serious that I couldn’t run through. Coming off the single track the sky just opened up and we started to get poured on. At this point I was extremely happy I opted to carry the jacket with. The puddles were pretty bad at the top of the mountain so I went from trying to side step or jump over to trudging right through resigned to the knowledge that I would have wet feet for the rest of the race.
Next came the down hills. I was a bit tentative here due to the fall and the sore ankle and had to stop once to tie my shoes as they were becoming so water logged they were too slippery to give me a sense of sure footing while I was descending. Nonetheless I made it down without another incident and was feeling pretty good. The aid stations were very well stocked so I was fueled on shot blocks and gu’s and having no nutritional issues. I also really liked my Nathan’s pack for this event as I only stopped to fill it once over the course of the entire race. The last 6 miles or so are on the flat trail that led us out on the course earlier that am and are much tougher mentally. When you first start the race you have tons of people around you so you are not able to look down these long flat stretches and see how far you have to really go, but on the way back you are so spread out that it is inevitable that you are out there with very few people around viewing the long stretch ahead. I was feeling pretty good though with no major pain so it was an relatively easy if somewhat boring stretch. The finish of the race was great with an announcer that called out your info as you came across the finish. It felt great to be done and I was ready to get dry. I was really not hungry at all when I got to the finish and could only muster one glass of electrolytes. Looking over the finish food, nothing caught my eye so I hurried over to the car to get out of the wet dirty clothes and face the 4.5 hour drive home. I did get one happy picture before departing and it was overall a very fun day out there!