Calico Trail Run 30k – Race Report

Hat – PRS Fit Race Cap
Sunglasses – Oakley Radar (expected wind and dust, kind of toolish at 7 am, but whatever kept the dirt out of my eyes, and I looked like billy badass)
Tech Tee – 3 Non Joggers (Runners Reward Brand – comfortable)
Shorts: North Face Cardiac (because I was unfamiliar with the course and thought it prudent wear a longer shorts than my patagonia long haulers)
Sox: Nike
Shoes: Hoka OneOne Mafate (was going to run in my Altra LonePines, but I opted for a shoe I had run longer distances in already)
Arm Warmers: Moeben Arm Sleeves (warm against morning wind and in heat dunked in h20 = heaven)
Hydration: 2 Ultimate Direction Handhelds (Review)
30km Time: 3:36:22


The plan was to run this race last year as a training run for the LA Marathon. An injury sidelined me from that and the Race Director was kind enough to let me roll my entry over to this year. I originally had heard of this race via Stuart’s Quadrathon blog, check out his review and pics of the 50km race. This year I would have gone for the 50k race, but I am very glad I didn’t. This race felt good, I was slower than expected but it was not for lack of effort so here goes.
This race is about a 2 hour drive from LA unless you camp out at the site. Having a prior commitment the night before driving was the play. It was a tough to wake up at 3:30 am when you had been out till 1 am but as they say “there ain’t no rest for the wicked”. I had been hydrating all night and feeling good with the taper week. Saturday I did a 10 miler intending a 3 miler…accidentally got lost in Irvine so this was going to be a back to back. Arrived at Calico Ghost Town start/finish area approximately 6 am, 25 min power nap prior to start and we are off to the races. 250 yards from the line I remembered; forgot iPod, forgot BodyGlide, Only 3 Gels, ah… FML.
There was no were only three aid stations for the 30km at roughly the 10km distances so I will break down the race in the same way.

First leg – 10k

Race started quickly downhill right away out of the ghost town onto the road.  This downhill section was about 2 miles of road and flat trails. I felt strong like bull. Ha, just wanted to say that; but once we hit the trails the game changed. The trails were a sandy gradual uphill that seemed to go on forever. Sand 1-2 inches evenly across the trail (about as wide as a jeep) and shoes sunk right in. The problem was not so much the sand instead it was running form. I started lagging and not raising my knees and sand found my shoe soles.  Naturally this could have been avoided with gaiters but those are nice and clean in a drawer at home. Over the course of the race I would end up stopping 5 or 6 times to get stuff out of my shoes.
Mile 5 my glut reminded me that I am not invincible no matter how good I feel. I was running strong and feeling great, but a pull in my lower back/glut flared up. I had this pull a few weeks ago and felt recovered but I was committed by this point just had to grind it out and hope for some endorphins a.s.a.p. (took 17 km for my back to loosen up).
I was hydrating well, approximately 25-30 oz per hour and a gel every 30 minutes and an s-cap every hour. Arriving at the first aid station I saw smiling faces and a beautiful spread. PB&J Sandwich squares, M&Ms, bananas, jelly beans, soda, but oddly enough no gels. I did not think about it and figured there would be some at the next aid station and just refilled and took off.  

Much of the course was like this (this is towards the end)

Second 10k

I really got a surge of energy here. I just focused on keeping it consistent and trying to hold my spot in the field. The first 10k had seen a few runners pass me and I was determined to grind it out. With no music to motivate me I just focused on whatever runner was in front and would occasionally look back to avoid trying to get caught. According to the Garmin at 1.7 ish miles we started our climb and we did not hit a downhill until 10.5; that amigos is a slow albeit subtle death.
There were some rollers but still very much in the upward direction. Got to aid station and really did not stay long. I could not see any runners for a few hundred yards but then at the aid station they seemed to be just hanging out. I was in race mode so I wanted to distance myself as much as I could, so kept on truckin. 
Image Courtesy of:

Third 10k

There was a fork in the road directing the 50k left and the 30k right, I went right. I was tempted by the 50k but the sand had taken a lot out of my legs so I knew it was just time to wrap it up. My back pull had loosened up and I felt surprisingly good for the effort I was putting out. The last aid station where you were informed that there were 5 and change miles left. At this aid station I had long run out of my gels since I was taking one every 30ish minutes and I knew my elation at the downhill would wear off soon. So I filled my two handhelds, one half way with Pepsi and the other half way with Gatorade. The cola was not flat so I dealt with an annoying hissing noise for a little while but it really helped me out. It became my gel replacement for that last 5 miles. The canyon section was fun and technical. It started descending and every so often you would get a drop off, def if you are not paying attention you could hurt yourself. This section was technical and probably some of the toughest stuff I have had to run on. I felt very circus like avoiding spills and thanked God every time my toe hit a rock that would have been a black toenail for sure. It was also nice to see a line of jeeps doing rock crawling in our path. Its odd to think that a bunch of crazies were running down rocks they were charging up with 4×4 jeeps and winches.
Image Courtesy of:
About 1 Mile from the Finish – Thanks to Ben Jones for taking the pictures

Finish Line

At the end the race director is kind enough to add steep hill so you make sure not to forget your calico experience, it sucked. I passed the car, dropped my water bottles and proceeded to head up the steep hill. At this point my calfs were cramping and I kept turning back since I was determined not to let anyone pass me (feel free to call upon the Lord of the Rings Gandalf the Grey vs Big horn thing scene for emotional equivalent).


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