Saturday, December 5, 2009

North Face 50 - San Francisco

I have to admit, I went into this race not wanting to like it. Having heard so much over the years about sketchy course markings, the annoying road race atmosphere, and the unpredictable nature of the whole thing I was skeptical. However, in the end, aside from the start being delayed 15 minutes (thereby adding stress to my day because I had a flight to catch that was not likely to be delayed 15 minutes), the race and the organization were impressive.

Of course, I had heard much about the big blow-uppy things around the start/finish area, the guy with the DJ voice who talks all the time on the PA and the young women in matching red outfits on walkie-talkies that have become synonymous with these TNF events but, I hafta say, I kind of liked it. The race started like any other race, was marked like any other race (perhaps even better since they’ve gotten so much heat over the years), and finished like than any other race (except that they put so much faith in the chip timing system that pretty much nobody even notices the finishers). My only gripe about the whole thing logistically was that they advertised that they would have gels at every aid station and they didn’t. No biggie, but still, it took some getting used to having to gut down PowerBars so late in a race. Nonetheless, that little annoyance was quickly canceled out by the free beer in the Pyramid Beer Garden that awaited us at the finish.

As for me and my race, I was happy with my 8-hours-and-change result and was thrilled, on this day, to share the trail with such a great group of athletes. It is clear to me that TNF has figured out that the best way to get an elite field to come to SF for a 50 miler in December is to throw down elite prize money. On the one out-and-back section of the course about halfway through it was so fun to see Ulli and Geoff battle it out followed by Mackey and Wardian who were giving strong chase. Chikara and Tsuyoshi were also hugely impressive on this sweet section of singletrack. And, I gotta say, it was pretty special to see two great guys from our sport who may not get as much love as they deserve working together to keep the gap manageable. The guys I’m talking about are Leigh Schmitt and Mike Wolfe, class acts both and their results speak for themselves.

All in all, it was great day in the Marin Headlands that puts a cherry on top of my 2009 season. Next up for me will be the Ghost Town 38.5 in New Mexico on MLK weekend and then, after that, I am not sure. Well that’s not entirely true, I am sure where I’ll be on the last Saturday in June and hopefully Victor won’t cause me so much stress☺

13 comments:

FastED said...

Nice job Andy - 8:03 was your time, 22nd place. Very nice!

http://www.sportstats.ca/display-results.php?lang=eng&racecode=44563

footfeathers said...

Nice job and you were only predicting 8:30 for yourself! Burn it up at Ghost Town next month.

Rod Bien said...

8:03.... not bad. I heard it was easier this year though. Just to keep your head in check.

AJW said...

FastEd, thanks! Looking forward to the HRH lottery. And, good luck with the marathon.

Tim, thanks and I wish you were coming to NM for a re-match.

Rod, since I have never run it before I have no idea whether it was easier or not. However, that's the same thing people say about WS (with or without Duncan, did it have Pucker Pt, etc...) all in all, it was fun, if a bit North Facy:)

Rod Bien said...

Well, Duncan sure makes it tougher!!!

scottmills said...

Nice job AJ. Great way to end a super year...especially the WSER and Hardrock double. Best to you and yours for the holidays, and Tommy and I look forward to seeing you Squaw next June ! Scotty

Neal G said...

Andy,
I met you as you passed me down the last hill before the NF50 finish. Nice use of gravity, my man. And good work overall. I am in WS so see you in June.
Neal

Rick Gaston said...

The beer was free?! I thought I had to pay for it and was too lazy to go back and get my wallet. Well I probably needed it anyway to get in. Good seeing you out there AJW.

Sam said...

Great write-up Andy, and congrats on a great race out there! It was fun seeing you out there, and just wish I could have kept up with you a little longer! Rest well, and see you out on the trails somewhere next year!

Emmett said...

I agree that the organization was great... but as a back of the packer, I was disappointed when aid stations ran completely out of nuun or gatorade (I got a bottle full of Mountain Dew instead... needed something sweet.). At the finish, there was no heaters (except in the first aid), no beer, and the food was soup dregs, shredded lettuce and hard rolls. It wasn't like I finished after the time limit (13:36)...

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