Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Duncan Canyon to Robinson Flat (Miles 23.8 to 29.7) 165 days to go.

The course tour continues today with the fifth segment of the course, the 5.9 miles from Duncan Canyon to Robinson Flat. Special thanks to Jenni Sevenich, Kristin Clark, Chris Manuel, my lovely wife Beth, Angela Petrucci (in honor of Gerard Petrucci and Edward Nugent), Mark & Katie Zoia, Amy Craft Ahrens (in honor of Chris Miller of the National Guard), and Andy Vitt (in honor of Dylan Schoo) for their donations to the Wounded Warrior Project that sponsor this stretch of trail.

The fifth segment takes runners deep into Duncan Canyon in the first 1.8 miles from the Duncan Canyon aid station, a drop of about 1000 feet. Like the last stage, forest fires destroyed the foliage along much of this path, leaving runners exposed to the beating sun overhead. Having passed through snow fields a few short hours ago, it will probably be a shock to the system to feel temperatures rising toward triple digits.

A lot of the path looks runnable. Of course, it quickly starts a three mile climb into Robinson Flat that ascends well over 1000 feet. This area also is prone to being a winter wonderful of snow banks, which seems hard to believe having just experienced rising temperatures in the valley.

The reward, when a runner reaches the Robinson Flat aid station at Mile 29.7, is the presence once again of the runner's crew, which has been bussed into the aid station...and a whole lot of excitement. The Robinson Flat aid station features a loudspeaker announcing the name and hometown of each runner. Crowds line the roped-off aid station, cheering for the entering runners. Runners are ushered, for the first time since Squaw Valley, to a medical checkpoint to confirm adequate weight (see my post here about aid stations to learn what the medical volunteers are looking for). There is one weird rule at this aid station: crews are not allowed to touch their runners. I really don't know why that is.

The leaders will pass through Robinson Flat around 9:30 a.m., about 4 1/2 hours after race start. Those on a 24 hour pace will pass by almost two hours later, at 11:20 a.m., and 30 hour runners keeping pace will pass through at 12:55 p.m. The aid station closes at 1:50 p.m. Only 70.3 miles to go!

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