2nd Annual San Elijo Hills Trail Marathon -- Race Report

Over the weekend I organized (and I use that term loosely) the 2nd Annual San Elijo Hills Trail Marathon. This is a run that a group of running friends and I dreamed up on one of our morning runs along the trails that surround our community. We linked up a bunch of local trails to make a 26 mile loop that is mostly trail with a couple miles of road.

There is no sign-up form for this run. I sent out an invitation to a few people, and the word spread and more and more people wanted to join. I warned everyone about the difficulty of the course (there is nearly 5,500 feet of gain in the 26 miles, including the warm-up hike to the start), the lack of aid, and the lack of a capable and responsible race director to complain to. I did promise a very difficult day on the trails, and I guess that appeals to a lot of the people that I know.

For me, the run was a two-day event focused on some very specific training for the John Muir Trail run in August. I ran and marked the first half of the course Friday morning with Nir and Melissa, and I marked the second half Friday evening with Cameron.

Finishing up on day one.

Proper nutrition is important

Saturday morning, I met with the around 30 people who started the run (22 planned on doing the whole thing), and we made the hike up to Double Peak for the 5:30 AM start. The weather, which had been hot the previous weeks, cooled off a little on Saturday and we had a warm, humid, and overcast day.

I didn't want people to rely on aid stations, because I think it's important for people to be self-sufficient for a run like this. However, we had some amazing people come and help support all the runners. Sanam, Joy, Scott, my mom, Ric, and Lynne really helped feed and hydrate the runners at the five aid stations on the course. The aid stations were stocked with fresh fruit (the organic oranges were awesome), rice balls, candy, boiled potatoes and chips.

Aid Station 2

One of the best parts of the day was running to the top of Paint Mountain and retrieving a quote from the notebook that my daughter put together for the run. She compiled about 30 motivational quotes in a notebook, and at the top of one of the more difficult climbs, runners ripped a quote out of the notebook and kept it with them for the rest of the day. Mine was a quote from Kathleen Harris and it read "Don't fear moving slowly forward, fear standing still." It was a perfect mantra for the day as I slowly, but steadily finished the run. The other highlight was finishing, having my daughter place the handmade medal/necklace around my neck and hanging out with friends and family at the finish on top of Double Peak.

Every finisher received a handmade necklace

My quote, sweat-stained and crumpled, as it should be.

I think we had about 20 people finish this year from the super-fast Ben Hian and Chris Sigel to a couple of people who made it their first marathon. Everyone finished with smiles, but the best finishing moment had to be Christine, who, as she crossed the make-shift paper towel finish line, yelled out "fooq you, Dax," in her French accent.

Post-run pizza and beers.

This run is one of my favorite runs I do every year, and I am so lucky to be surrounded with such a great group of people who help make this run happen. I already have plans to make it harder next year along with a new tag-line. Want to know what it is? You'll have to come suffer with us.

There is a little more info on the course in last year's report. Here's an awesome video that Treasure put together from last year's race. I found the pre-race course description hilarious:

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