Some adventures in road and trail running.
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Monday, September 17, 2007

Pacing at Angeles Crest 100 mile race

This past weekend I had the privilege of crewing and pacing Stacey at the Angeles Crest 100 mile race. The short of it is that Stacey finished in 24:57 and was the 20th finisher and the 3rd women bringing home the Cougar award.
Full results here.

There were four of us on Stacey's crew: Ronda, Trisha, Jeff and myself. It was great fun having Trisha (my wife) on the crew to experience first hand the running of a 100 miler. We both agree that I am not yet ready to tackle one of these beasts :-) We were able to check out the first couple of miles of the course on Friday as a group. The race starts on the streets of Wrightwood, CA and heads up into the hills towards Pasadena.

The course is single track trail with one little section of about 2 miles of road going around a protected area for a mountain frog. I would be thanking the frogs if I was running this course!
The high desert course for Angeles Crest is tough: running up to 9000 ft and with 2 large climbs in the last 25 miles of the race.
The climb out of Chantry Flats seems to go on forever: 3100 ft in 6.24 miles. As well, you have 9.2 miles until the next aid station: you reach the peak of Mt Wilson and you have only 4.2 miles to go. The last climb is a little more forgiving with 2000 ft in 3.77 miles. The downhills after these climbs are nice if your legs are fresh but rather technical and hard on the quads after 80 miles of running :-).

Crewing is relatively easy on this course as the trail criss-crosses the Angeles Crest highway so you basically jump out of the car, set up and wait for your runner. Nothing like the hiking into Greengate that we all know and love at Western States 100.

I paced Stacey on two sections of the course: from Chilao to Shortcut (6.5 miles) and then from Chantry Flats to the finish line at Johnson's Field (26 miles). Ronda did the 15 miles between Shortcut and Chantry....this after just finishing the Grand Slam last week at Wasatch 100. These runners are TOUGH!

The course is also extremely beautiful at night with many glimpses of the entire Los Angeles basin from Mt Wilson and Sam Merrill. At least the pacers get to enjoy it. I think the runners are pretty focused on just keeping the legs moving by that point in time! I should have carried my camera but likely my pictures would not do it justice. There is a cool section where you run along the old Mount Lowe railway line traversing the hillside. We saw several deer hunkered down sleeping on the hillside in these sections and the ruins of the old bridges of the railway look intriguing in the dark.

Pacing is a great job and way to experience and learn race courses without the complete pain of running the 100 miles. I highly recommend it but also make sure you are ready and willing to take the time and energy to really help your runner reach the finish line.
Here are some great starting hints from the Wasatch Speed Goats: how to pace.
We really worked as a crew to keep Stacey's aid station time as close to zero as possible.
You should also treat pacing pretty much like your own race. Have your own fueling plan and ensure that you are ready to run the miles. A bad pacer makes for a harder race for the runner...and running 100 miles is hard enough.

Now I go back to least after my legs heal from pacing :-)


olga said...

Sounds like you guys had fun, and great job on helping out Stacey!

Christina said...

Thanks for the great report. I took some pictures of your friend at the award ceremony. She was too fast for me to see on the course!