Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Auburn Lake Trails to Brown's Bar (Miles 85.2 to 89.9) (17 days to go!)

Stage 21 takes runners from the spacious campground-like aid station at Auburn Lake Trails to the remoteness of the Brown's Bar aid station just before mile 90. Thankfully, since we'll be 85 plus miles into the race, this section is fairly runnable again. There is a climb along a narrow single track, and as the elevation map shows, it's a rolling stage that will utilize all of a runner's leg muscles.

Thank you to Daniel and Kristie Clinard, Drew and Brooke Lais, Tom Allen & Molly Norton, Lisa Corcoran, Stacy Slat, Jason Fudala, Steve Berrones, and Dane and Toni Skillrud for their donations to the Wounded Warrior Project that sponsor this section of the course tour. Special thanks to my college friends Lisa and Stacy, as well as their husbands, for their service--Lisa and her husband Shawn serve in the Army, while Stacy and her husband David serve in the Air Force. Jason's donation is in honor of Jessica Poe. As always, I'm proud to run for all of them, and particularly grateful for the service of my friends.
The above photo captures the trail in this section quite well. It's almost desert-like, though I won't really see that since it'll be pitch dark.

To my right, if I could see it, I'd find the canyon. As I recall, this stretch of trail was memorable last year because we looked off across the canyon and saw the dancing headlamps of other runners on the trail. In an exercise in isolation, just the runner and pacer, there was a strange bond with other runners that those moments brought me last year.

I love this photo because it makes the run look like a cruiser in the local park...and if we weren't so far into the race, it probably would be.

Runners will still have to deal with creek crossings, which become tricky at night. Even worse, no one likes wet shoes when their feet are battered with blisters and sore from the miles.

I can't say for sure, but the Brown's Bar aid station, as I remember it, appears in a large clearing like this. Of all the aid stations, it's the one I remember the most from last year...because we could hear the rumbling noise of The Doors as we approached from the wilderness, and we were greeted by men in red dresses several sheets to the wind. If you read my pace report from last year, you may recall that I was given, on request, a beer at this aid station...by this guy:

It was a party, and all of it was dragged deep into the woods by the volunteers staffing this aid station for over 14 hours! You see, the lead runners pass through Brown's Bar around 7:15 PM, with 24 hour runners around 2:05 AM. 30 hour runners arrive at 7:50 AM, and the aid station finally closes at 9:20 AM, less than two hours before the final cut-off. Runners departing at the close of the aid station would have to run over 10 miles in just 100 minutes.

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