Thursday, August 20, 2015

Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run

Finish Area
Photo by Chris Jones

I qualified for the 2015 Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run by registering a year in advance, completing at least one 50 mile run, and volunteering a full day of trail improvement work. The 33 hour cutoff is not generous. I finished in 2012 with a time of 32:30. My goal this year was to improve on that time.

My team consisted of my brother in law Jim McClain and a SoCal Coyote Running teammate, John Kurst. Jim crewed the first part of the course and then paced me from the halfway point at Chilao to mile 75 at Chantry after which John paced me to the finish.

Mile 9.3 highway crossing
Photo by Helen Wu
The initial climb out of Wrightwood sets the stage of a relentlessly challenging course. The ensuing series of rolling descents lead to the second big climb of the day, Mt. Baden-Powell. After that, the first 25 miles concludes with another section of rolling terrain.

From Islip Saddle, runners start another climb, this up Mt. Williamson. Before Cloudburst, Cooper Canyon is a notorious place in the race where mountain altitude and midday heat combine. At the conclusion of the first half of the race, pacers and crew await at Chilao.

Miles 50-75 include three distinct segments. The first few miles reach a ridge where the trail dips down into a canyon before climbing back up to Shortcut Saddle. From Shortcut, it is a very long fireroad descent. Climbing to Newcomb Pass is just a teaser of what the course still has in store. Jim helped me reach Chantry Flats ten minutes ahead of my 2012 split. Leaving an aid station in the middle of the night, we were advised that a mountain lion was reported in the upcoming section.

Mile 95
Photo by Louis Kwan
The remaining 25 miles is arguably the most difficult of all. The long climb to near the top of Mt. Wilson only gets steeper towards the end. After a rocky, drought-ridden descent recently eroded by hard rains into Idlehour Canyon, the last big climb of the race takes you up to Sam Merrill aid station.

My pacer for the last 25 miles, John Kurst, selflessly helped me through all the aid stations. I was fortunate to recruit his help from SoCal Coyote Running. In John's section, we improved on my 2012 split by 30 minutes. 
Finished in 31 hours, 53 minutes.