Canyon Meadows Trail Half

When there is a race in my backyard, I can't help but run it. Last weekend there were two. First was the Oakland Running Festival, which is a nice course through Oakland and it's various neighborhoods, much like the one I run for many of my long runs. The second was in one of my favorite places for trail runs, Redwood Regional Park. I probably should have run the ORF, as it would have been a great way to assess my fitness and speed for Boston.

But I do love a good trail run. Plus the Canyon Meadows was less than half the price of the ORF. So, a trail running we will go. Broski came down to join the fun; he really is a glutton for punishment. Especially since the first thing we did was go up a really steep hill.

A while back, I had taken Broski to Redwood to show him my normal running route, and we had started up the same hill and ended up turning around because it was seemingly endless! Well, I learned that it was not literally endless, but it was almost a mile long!

Last year I ran the Cinderella Trail run in the same area. It was fun to look back and remind myself of where I was in the trail racing realm last year at this time. This race was different than the Cinderella though, although several of the trails were the same.

The details: The race started at 8 a.m. The weather was in the low 40s. According to the race director, there were about 400 runners. The distances were 5 miles, half marathon, 30k, marathon and 50k. I wore my new Montrail trail running shoes (my first pair of trail shoes ever).

The course: This was a great course for me because it encompassed many of the trails I regularly run on, plus it added a few that I had never tried before. It went on both the West Ridge and the East Ridge, both of which were part of the Skyline 50. The West Ridge was also on the Cinderella last year. Both trails are in the sun part of the time, and can get hot, but luckily that wasn't an issue this time. The course was a loop course for the half. If you were running the 50k, it was 2 loops of the half plus an additional 5 mile loop.

The pros: *This course wasn't too hilly. I know, you are probably laughing, but for instance, the Cinderella or the Golden Gate races have a about 2500 ft gain,  the Canyon Meadows is only 1500 ft. It makes a difference! *Once again, everyone was very friendly. I love trail runners! In fact, I even got recognized by a blog reader (actually she recognized Broski's shirt from the last race recap)! *There was beer at the end. GOOD beer. *The chip timers are on the race bib. No more shoe chips here (or written down times. Remember that?). *The new trail shoes were good! No blisters, no rubbing! *I got to talk to Broski for two hours. And by this, I mean I talked while he ran alongside me. There is no better listener than one that is stuck with you for two hours!

canyon meadows
 Broski + beard / Me + beer

The cons: *The course was short OR everyone's GPS was messed up. Everyone I talked to said their GPS was showing about a mile short. I would like to think I just ran fast, but I am not so sure. However, I was assured several times that the director walks the course with a Rolatape surveyor's wheel. *The finish line snack area was also a bit confusing. It was a mess of half marathoners who were finished as well as marathon and 50k people passing through. If I were running the 50, I would be a bit annoyed by the halfers, who were kind of in the way. *Your shirt color is dependent on your size! We were talking about how maybe next time we should pick a different size, since Broski keeps getting yellow shirts (I have been lucky with pink and blue the last two times).

The race: Like I said, the first mile was uphill, and was about a 500 ft elevation gain. It was hard. Then the course leveled out a bit and got a bit easier. My fastest mile was actually mile two. I must have been really glad that hill was over! Broski and I split up because he went to water the plants and when I went to do the same, I encountered a bunch of poison oak. I would rather hold it then get that again! For the next mile and a half I ran on my own. Then I stopped at a real toilet and Broski caught back up.

The next few miles were varied up and downs and then the second half of the race was mostly downhill. You would think this is a good thing, but if the downhills are really steep, it can actually be harder. Luckily a lot of this race was on fire trails, so there is space to pass people, because going downhill on a single track trail and trying to pass the person in front of you without bumping into them or knocking them over can get pretty hard sometimes.  As you can see, there was a pretty steep downhill around mile 8. The last few miles were the best because they went through the redwoods (the upper ridges are more Eucalyptus) on the Stream Trail and are nice and dark and ferny, which I really like.

stream trail
The stream trail

We finished in 2:09. Actually I finished in 2:09. Broski was annoyed that his Garmin didn't say 13.1, so he turned around and did a quick out and back to make up the miles. I tried to tell him that with trail races it doesn't matter, but he is determined to get his true half marathon in! So be it.

2:09 / Garmin reading = 12.4 miles / ave 10:03 pace
If it is a true half, the average would be 9:50 pace.

Afterward, we went to brunch, where we ate a mountain of food, and then Broski drove home and passed out on the couch. I know this because Mrs. Broski sent me a photo of him when she got home from work. Maybe I will post it here later. (just kidding!) I guess we wore him out. 

The verdict?  I would run this race again, although I prefer the Cinderella, because it goes on my favorite trail, the French Trail. I would still run another Coastal race (and will!) but all of them have been short, and I am not certain that they can all be blamed on the Garmin!

As a side note, Broski asked me if, instead of driving to Easter dinner, I wanted to run with him from his house to the in-laws place (17 miles). I think he's got a bit of the crazy in him! Clearly he's been hanging out with me for too long! Or listening to me too much during trails runs.

Have you ever been the catalyst for someone's crazy hobby? What are you doing for Easter?


  1. Again your running inspires me. It must be fantastic to be able to enjoy it with your brother as well.

  2. That elevation profile looks crazy! Great job with the race, bummer it was a little short. I love that Broski had to make it an even 13.1, sounds like something I would do.

  3. I need to come run a trail race with you sometime... although I doubt I could keep up, but it looks like so much fun. So are you running the 17 miles to the inlaws??

  4. I need to get back to running on trails. When I lived in Utah I ran the trails every morning and loved it. Now I mostly just run in the gym.

  5. So are you going to run to Easter dinner?:) I hate it when courses are short, or long for that matter;) I love that Broski has the running bug! I wish my bro would catch it, but he tells me all the time he "can't" run. It drives me insane! Everyone CAN run, you just have to learn to do it the right way:) Have a wonderful Easter weekend

  6. I live in Utah and have to love hills, since that is all we have! That race elevation course looks awesome for that:) Great job! For Easter I am going to head up to the mountains for a little camping (since the snow is starting to melt), and I am really looking forward to getting a few mountain runs in!

  7. I find most of the trail races i do are not the actual distance. Breck 10k = 5.87miles, Salida Half = 13.6 miles, Vail 5k = 3.7miles, but I much prefer the trail races. Great job to you and Broski - don't know if i like that beard tho! Love that you guys will be running 17 miles to Easter dinner!!!

    I'm doing a hill running clinic on Easter! http://footfeathers.blogspot.com/p/running-clinics.html

  8. Wow - sounds like Broski has a marathon in his future if he wants to run 17 miles to Easter dinner... ;) Sounds like a great race! You are lucky that you live in an area where there are so many races each weekend. It's definitely not like that around here!

    I don't think I've gotten anyone hooked on running, or any other hobby! My sister did run a marathon after I did, but I think she would have done it anyways as she is really into running.

  9. Great pace! Agreed. Trail runners are great. I kind of like the idea of running to easter dinner.

    Yes, I've proudly been a catalyst of other people's craziness :)

  10. Looks tough, great job :) I have been the catalyst for turning many into distance runners and I love it!

  11. I hope you had a great Easter run with the bro! Our Easter was crazy in another way--three kid egg hunts. I'm so excited for you with Boston coming up.

  12. Looks like a great race! Great job avoiding the poison oak.

    (can you tell I'm in blog catch up mode?)

  13. Great race for you both! I really want to do a trail half this year at some point. Glad your new trail shoes turned out well.

  14. That kind of makes me laugh that your brother added more to the end of the race until he felt like he had officially finished.


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