Submitted by lbclove
March 16, 2014
I did not have much of a pre race experience because I took the 2:15 am boat over to the island. It went from Long Beach to Avalon where we picked up the bulk of runners and then to Two Harbors Once in Two Harbors I picked up my bib. That was annoying but only because of runners cutting in line and being rude not because of anything Spectrum Sports had done wrong. The best part was seeing 3 buffalo as soon as I came off the boat, It was still too early to get a good picture but at least I got to see them
Saying the course is challenging would be the under statement of the year. Its just grueling and beautiful all at he same time. It begins is two harbors and immediately takes up hill and then down something that is like a gorge type foot buffalo path. I saw 2 people wipe out pretty hard on it and another just slip and fall. After the worse part of that was over I laughed as I thought I can’t go back now because that was horrible and I don’t want to do it again. The course is all trail and I have never run trails before and I had just ran LA 6 days prior but I won entry to this race so I thought what the heck I will give it a try. I really don’t have words to describe this course. What I can say is that the runners that do this race between 3 and 4 hours are badass. They are true athletes in every sense of the word and honestly anyone who can complete this course period is nothing short of amazing. There is a reason it is ranked among the 10 hardest in the nation. The aide station were absolutely amazing. The volunteers were so nice and they had so many treats ranging from M&Ms, homemade cookies, gummy bears, oranges, bananas and coke. I deiced at mile 19 – Pumphouse Hill that the world of racing would be a much better place if every race course in America had M&Ms and Coke My favorite aide station was middle ranch they blasted bluegrass music and gave out Red Bull. The views on the course are just breathtaking. From every side of island you can see as far as the eye will go. Inland views of the island were gorgeous as well. If you are lucky you will see a Buffalo or two. If you love running trails and hills made for billy goats then you are luck with this course. I loved that the last 3 miles were straight down hill to the finish.
The medal is 100% unique to this race. It is tile art made by a woman who lives on the island. It is very delicate so I need to hang it somewhere special. 50 feet from the finish is the ocean and was a lovely little ice bath that badly needed. I did wish that the finisher shirts had the elevation chart on the back likes ones I had seen in the past. They were still nice looking but by the time this tired slow poke crossed they only had weird sizes left so I will need to do some alterations. Everyone seems to know each other at this race. They do it every year and welcome new friends. I loved being on the trails and talking to other runners. That is something that does not happen to often at a road race. Trail racing is a different world and I like it. Someone from Spectrum Sports was driving on part of the course and checking on runners which was very nice to see.
Overall this is a very hard race but worth it. If you love adventure, beautiful views and a medal only few will ever own then sign up as soon as you can.
Submitted by Derek Abbey
March 14, 2012
First I’ll explain the final grade, as it might not make sense when looking at the grades across the board. I give the race an overall A because of the great course and the experience. It is a beast of a course that will challenge you heavily. I love being dropped off on one end an island and then expected to run your way out. Basically, see you back in Avalon. Access to the preserve is amazing. Some amazing views of the ocean on both side of the island.
The support on the course was great. While they could increase the number of tables. The volunteer that were out there in the heat were great. Enthusiastic and encouraging and plenty of options at each table. Water, Gatoraid, food, snacks…
I got to the bib pickup location early and spent a long time in line, which was disappointing considering the relatively small number of runners. Expected something more in the swag bag, besides a few fliers, but really that isn’t why I run the race. I was happy that they didn’t hand out shirts to the racers until they finished the race. The medal was unique to the race and cool. The gear for sale seemed nice, but a little too expensive for my taste.
The significant downhill at the end of the race took a toll on my knees and once I finished I sought out the medical tent to get some ice. Wanted to avoid some swelling from the beating they took. No med tent? No ice for hand out? Hmmm. There was an EMT there in case something scary happened. I was able to find some ice and the staff was helpful. Got some out of the coolers that the drinks were in. Just thought it was odd that it was an afterthought.
The little vehicle traffic on the course was disturbing. Also the few roads that course took through Avalon should have been blocked off to traffic.
Those were my critiques, but overall I had a great time. Easy fixes. I was told that the director this year was new though I didn’t verify it. The small number of racers was nice and the atmosphere at the end was energizing. I will likely try to run the race again or come back out for the ECO marathon later in the year. It was great to take the ferry out and spend the night on the island. I think next time I’ll try to tack on an extra day to just relax out there after the race. It wasn’t crowded because it was the off season, so there was plenty of rooms.