Miwok 100k

For a minute there you thought I did a 100k this weekend, didn't you? Well, as much as I would love to say that I did, I did not. In fact, none of the people who ran this race did a 100k. Let me back up a bit. The Miwok 100k is a 62.2 mile trail race with over 12,000 feet of elevation gain. It is held in Marin County, in the Headlands, which are just north of San Francisco. It is a beautiful place to run and the race is world renowned.

rodeo beach
Rodeo Beach

Just a little *extra* Ultra info for you: one of the most widely known races is called the Western States 100 (mile) and it's held in Lake Tahoe. To get into the WSER, you have to qualify, just like Boston, so it's a big deal. To qualify, you have to run certain races within a certain time. For a 100km race, you have to finish within 15 hours to qualify. Then you have to enter the lottery and only a handful of people (369) are chosen to run the WSER.

rodeo beach
The Coastal Trail

On Saturday, I headed to the headlands very early in the morning to get a run in before helping man the Tennessee Valley aid station, which was supposed to be mile 36 and 48 for the runners. I ran a loop around the headlands that shows some of the many variations of flora in the area. There were Eucalyptus, grasslands, and brushy areas; there were views of the rolling hills, the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. I started off around 5 am, in the dark and so I got to see a beautiful sunset light up the sky just as I was nearing the top of a hill where I had a view of San Francisco.

coastal trail
San Francisco in the distance

THIS is why I run.

I got back to the aid station and got straight to work. However, I soon found out that the threat of fire had caused a red flag warning which had shut down parts of the race course, making it no longer a 100k, but roughly a 60k instead.

However, like ultra runners do, people remained in good spirits (even though this was going to mess up their chance to qualify for Western States). We were now mile 12 and 25. The first guys passed us in about 1:40. With my limited math skills, I still call that about an 8 minute mile. On the trails! These guys impress me so much. By the way, the first girl was not too far behind them!

Coastal Trail
Coastal Trail with coast view

I had a great time making sandwiches, cutting potatoes, filling bowls of peanut M&Ms,  handing out water and making sure people were doing okay; the camaraderie was unmatchable. There were even two random guys who had biked over with their Go Cam and jumped in to help volunteer for a couple of hours while they were waiting for their friend to pass by.

THIS is why I love the running community.

In longer races, the runners get crew and pacers. The crew are fun; they wait for the runner and then douse them with water, ice and sunscreen, jam a Gu in their mouth and hand them a new water bottle...and they're off! The pacers only get to run the last section with the runner, which would have been about 20 miles, but turned out to only be 12. Everyone there was energetic and supportive and having a good time. Even the runners I met who were dropping out were still positive about things.

Verdict? I would volunteer for this race again in a heartbeat. Also, maybe someday I will even run it!

Have you ever volunteered for anything? Did you learn anything from it? Would you be mad if your race was nearly cut in half on the morning of the race?


  1. Wow, those pictures are GORGEOUS. You really do live in such a beautiful area!

    I have volunteered at a couple of marathons and had so much fun doing it. One time I was a course marshall, the other time i handed out water at the finish line. It was so fun and a nice way to give back to the running community.

  2. What views! I've only volunteered at road races, which is so different, but an ultra sounds like a fun opportunity for an injured runner like me to hang out with other runners :)

  3. Beautiful photos! I've volunteered at small, short races and then been part of the crew for a 50 miler! I have to say I have almost as much fun doing that as I do running!

  4. I would be frustrated but then again I would not want to tango with those fires!!! They sound crazy!! I have volunteered at ZOOMA Cape Cod last year since I was too preggo to run! It was great cheering everyone on as they passed...so inspiring!

  5. I love volunteering!! I can't even begin to count how many people have helped me through my races, it is such a treat to give back whenever I can! My view last weekend wasn't as nice is yours though!!

  6. wow, the ultra community is really different from anything else out there, and it's always the nicest people that get involved. Great call volunteering! It is so much fun.

  7. Your photos are stunning. What an amazing place to run! I love the energy that comes with race day, whether it's a small 5K to raise money for a local charity or a much bigger/longer race where runners are reaching for a goal. So much good comes out of the running community. I trained for my first marathon with Team in Training and raised over $5k for the organization. Training for my first marathon was special in and of itself, but raising all that money made me feel that much more connected to all the many people who followed me on my journey and donated to my cause!

  8. What a stunning view of San Francisco! That's just gorgeous. I hate that the race was cut short.

  9. What a fun experience! I love your pics. I did work a water station at the marathon here last Fall and I was not very impressed with the organizers. This year, a different job, perhaps in the expo.

  10. It's always fun to hear about the trail running community (and ultra community) through you... I know nothing! Looks like such a cool race to volunteer for!

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