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.