The 50k was run in the mountains southeast of Los Angeles. The run was directed by Baz Hawley. If you ever have the opportunity to run one of his races, do it! It was a typical low-key ultra, but Baz is hilarious and exceptionally well-organized (he’s been doing this awhile).
The course was changed at the last minute due to unexpected snow (yes, snow within an hour of LA… it surprised me, too). The resulting change made the course somewhat confusing. Luckily I ran behind a group of people that were familiar with the trails, so I stayed on the correct path. Vanessa and Shelly ended up taking a wrong turn at an especially confusing intersection between two loops and ended up repeating the same loop two or three times. Shacky was able to stay on the course, also.
All in all, the race went well. It was the first race I was actually “racing” since my DNF at Grindstone last year. I was able to do some experimentation in preparation for my next “A” race, the Big Horn 100 later this year. The course was short (approximately 27 miles), but I did manage to finish somewhere around eighth and first in the 30-39 age group. My finish time wasn’t spectacular… I believe it was 4:52 or something. I was hoping for a little faster pace, but I wasn’t able to maintain a faster pace at my self-imposed maximum heart rate of 155.
After the race, the four of us had lunch at our favorite biker bar, Hell’s Kitchen. If you’re ever in the area, check it out. They have some of the hottest wings I’ve ever tried.
Down and Dirty
The next day, Shelly and I attended the Los Angeles Down and Dirty in Santa Clarita, CA. We were working the event with Merrell, so we didn’t actually get to run the race. Overall, the event was far more fun that I would have expected.
If you’ve never attended a Down and Dirty, it’s essentially a 5 or 10k race with multiple obstacles, including a generous helping of mud. Unlike some of the more “extreme” events, the Down and Dirty races are relatively easy and accessible to anyone that could run a 5k. There were participants at all fitness levels, including young kids. Here are some of the best parts of the event:
- Fun! When people finished their race, they hung out, enjoyed the music, ate, and chatted. The race was only one component of the entire experience. The overall atmosphere was like a giant party.
- Minimally-clad people covered in mud. This one speaks for itself. Mud-covered eye candy everywhere! Check out the pictures here, here, and here.
- The have a barefoot shoes division! When Merrell started sponsoring the event, they insisted on the creation of a barefoot shoes division. Originally shoes had to be worn, but Merrell convinced the race directors to allow true barefoot runners. However, minimalist shoes would be a good idea as some of the obstacles obscure where your foot is touching the ground (run through water, mud, etc.)
- Exceptional organization. There were around 4,000 people running the 5k and 10k, but the organizers assured everything went smoothly. The runners started in heats, so there was no waiting at obstacles. It was a big race that avoided all the pitfalls of a big race.
- Post-race pics. We took a ton of pictures at the Merrell tent, which are then posted on the Merrell Facebook page. Some are also posted on my Facebook album here and here. If you ran the race, tag yourself! Participants can use the pics as they please. Many people use them as profile pictures. For future participants: make sure you get the pics BEFORE hosing the mud off! Also, we like the cool poses… either flexing, goofy, or even seductive.
- The infamous “Merrell-Go-Round” hamster wheel. Running in the hamster wheel is one of the strangest experiences ever. First, it requires good form. Second, there’s the imminent danger of going too fast and falling, which makes the experience sort of terrifying. If you get a chance, try the hamster wheel!
- Swag! The Down and Dirty shirts are sweet, and the participants also got a Merrell buff (same thing you see on my head in many of my running pics). Also, Subaru (one of the sponsors) gave away swag to anyone driving a Subaru and Merrell gave swag to people wearing Merrell shoes. We also had a raffle to give away four $110 Merrell gift certificates.
We had a chance to chat with people, do a brief barefoot clinic, and take tons of pictures. At the future Down and Dirty races, we’ll be holding more small-scale barefoot clinics. Shelly and I will be at most of the remaining Down and Dirty races, including:
- Chicago, May 20th
- Dallas, June 3rd
- Detroit, August 26th
- New York, September 30th
- Atlanta, October 14th
- Sacramento, October 27th and 28th
As of right now, we don’t think we can make it to the Miami, Philadelphia, or Denver races.
We’ll be expanding our barefoot clinics and maybe adding a contest or two to win some swag. I’m also considering a Barefoot Running University “Dirties Picture” contest.
Registration fills up, so if you’re planning on attending- sign up soon! Shelly and I are looking forward to hanging out with our barefoot peeps!
Anyone plan on attending?