Friday, June 17, 2011

No Hands Bridge to Robie Point (Miles 96.8 to 98.9) (8 days to go!)

The 24th stage of the Western States Endurance Run takes runners from the idyllic scene at No Hands Bridge up a steep climb to the pavement at Robie Point on the outskirts of Auburn.

Special thanks goes out to Pat & Gretchen Scoggins and family, Stephanie Grise, Matt & Betsy Malten, my first best friend way back when we were basically born two house away from each other Ben Rempe, Dustin & Julia Beckley, Tom & Nancy Garvey, Troy Headrick, Jason Lentzke & Jennifer Marquez, Jeff and Kristin Votteler, Meghan DiPerna, Mark & Stephanie Becher, Sam Durham, Mike Nawrocki, Brant Frey, and Holly Miller for their donations to the Wounded Warrior Project that sponsor this section of the course (and, in case you couldn't figure it out, much more beyond that, too, as I'm trying to recognize everyone)!

The first sight on this stage is No Hands Bridge, which will be lined with lights at night as runners cross the American River.

While this photo doesn't capture it, the American River roars below the bridge.

Most of the trail looks like this--single track, dirt, some rocks. It winds its way in a steady uphill that felt steep last year on Mile 35 of my pace run last year, but surprisingly not too bad on Mile 2o of my training run this year. I can hardly imagine what it will feel at Mile 97.

As we rise out of the canyon into the town of Auburn, I distinctly remember hearing the cheers and hoots of the aid station at the top of the climb. The echo bounced off the canyon walls and seemed to call us all forward when gravity, and the competitors' legs, were calling for everyone to take a seat. Before long, we reach the top of the climb, the aid station rests to the left while the gate to the city of Auburn is positioned to the right. It's all pavement from this time forward.

The lead runners will arrive at Robie Point at 8:55 PM. It won't be until 4:40 AM that the 24 hour runners reach the aid station, with the 30 hour runners arriving at 10:35 AM, only 25 minutes before the aid station, and the race, close. Robie Point is a welcome back to civilization--houses, roads, cars, people...of course, for quite a few of the runners, all is quiet since it's the middle of the night. It's just a short jaunt, 1.4 miles, down the road to the cheering crowds at Placer High School.

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