YOU’VE GOT TO DO THIS RACE
On Friday I joined last year’s champion James Elliot and his friends Rick and Tim to mark the course. Tim and I, both planning on running the race, helped haul chalk and mark trails the first 9 miles. It was fun to run with some locals and ease into the next day’s race. That night I attended the prerace dinner at Savoy Truffles. Paul Shields is a 9 Trails finisher and owns this tasty little restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara. He put together one of the best prerace meals out there and the restaurant was packed. Luis Escobar (RD) and Patsy (race founder and co-RD) entertained us with race facts, important tips and stories from past events.
Chris, Tara and Logan arrived home at 11 on Friday night, I picked them up at the airport, we hurried home, slept for a couple hours then got up for the race. It was a little chilly Saturday morning but the sun rose quickly and only a few miles into the run I was happy I opted for sleeveless and gloves. The top guys took off fast and in an effort to avoid getting stuck I tried to tag along and still keep my heart rate around 150. 9 Trails is an out and back course that connects nine of the foothills trails of the Santa Barbara Mountains. Runners stay between 600ft and 2400ft so there is plenty of climbing and descending to make up the course’s 11k feet of gain. And rocky! The terrain is by no means reminiscent of Miwok’s smooth coastal trails. There is plenty of tricky footing to hold your attention. Some of the highlights include the bamboo tunnel, hot springs and the views of the Channel Islands from Gibraltor Road (only 1 mile of pavement).
On the way out when ducking through the tunnel I missed the overhead pipe (because I was wearing a visor) and knocked myself silly and flat on my back. As I tried to shake that off and get back to running I remembered the Clif shot in my back pocket and my iPod… the iPod was cracked but still playing music and coated in mocha mocha. My first thought was – hey, now I can get that new shuffle.
At the turn around I handed off a water bottle to Stu (race day RD so Luis could run the race) and checked my watch – 3:24. The female course record that I was after was 6:51:31. Realizing I was going to need to work for that record I didn’t spend much time at any of the aid stations and tried to run everything. When lacking motivation I recalled Matt pacing me at Waldo – he made me run more than I thought I could and that paid off so I imagined him doing the same here. To fuel this run Clif donated their new Pina Colada shot bloks and Go Mango shot to the race – both are my new favorites!
Popping out on road to the finish line Patsy was screaming “You broke the record!” with arms wide open waiting to greet me with a huge hug. All I could think was this course chews you up and spits you out into Patsy’s arms and Patsy swallows you whole. I really enjoyed the challenge of this course, the constant change of terrain, the views, the helpful volunteers and excitement for ultras that Patsy exudes. Luis does a fantastic job pulling together this event from the prerace dinner to the miso and sandwiches waiting at the finish line the attention to detail is top notch. The course was marked super well thanks to James, the aid stations were well stocked thanks to Mark and the finish area well organized with results, massage, eats and awards. It is apparent that the community really supports this event and helps add some special touches.