Ohlone 50k

Welcome to the other side of the table! Last year, I volunteered for this race. My friends thought I was crazy, because to get to the aid station where I was, you had to run 10 miles, work, and then run 10 back. Well they really think I am crazy now.

This is not an easy race. With an elevation gain of almost 8000 feet and an average day time temperature of about 90 degrees, it is not for the faint of heart.


I arrived at the finish line around 6 am. From there, you take a school bus (with your knees in your face the whole time) to the start line, which is in the Mission Peak Regional Preserve near Fremont, CA. I did the usual: got my bib, #64, used the potty (there were 5 of them and with only 200 racers, this made for a not too long line), and got my music ready. My plan was to have the music in one ear because it's fun to be a part of the course and when you are on smaller trails, you need to be able to hear other people coming up behind you. I had made a new playlist just for the race; it was 6.5 hours long. I was really hoping it wouldn't take me any longer than that to finish this race. I had taken a look at last years times and the top man was just under 5 hours and the top woman was just under 6.

The first part, as you can see from the above elevation chart, was straight up. From about 500 feet to about 2500 feet, to the top of Mission peak. The trail was full of day hikers, huffing and puffing their way up, wearing sweatpants and street shoes and carrying big cameras. We power hiked by them, causing puffs of dust to go everywhere. Did I mention yet that this trail was dusty?

mission peak
Heading up to Mission Peak

I am usually stronger on the uphill than I am on the downs, and this day was no different. I passed a lot of people on the first stretch uphill. Then we were flying back down and people were passing me. The section after Mission peak was a difficult downhill for a bit, as it was quite rocky and there were still a lot of hikers, so trying to avoid them and the rocks without falling was challenging.

I carried my Nathan 2L bladder and boy was I glad I did. I was swilling water like it was going out of style. I had also brought two squeeze baby food / applesauce packets with me and I had one right around the top of Mission peak because by this time I was already hungry! That's what happens when you eat breakfast at 4:30 am and then don't start racing until 8 am.

As I ran down a not so steep part of the hill right after the first aid station, I started joking with the guy next to me about how I thought the rest of the course was just like this...a gradual downhill. Ha! Just kidding! It turns out, he is from a town very close to where my parents live, so we had a good time running and talking for the next couple of miles. As the course went on, we were constantly playing leapfrog and cheering each other on. 

We arrived at the second aid station, which sits at about 700 feet. I grabbed a potato and a banana and a swig of Gu brew and headed back out, and up! For the next 10 miles, it was all uphill, I swear! I was glad to see the Goat Rock aid station, where they had BACON! I also applied some Vaseline and sunscreen and helped myself to more potatoes and salt. I read an article somewhere which said you should eat what appeals to you...potatoes and salt and fruit are what I always want!

The thing (one of them) that I like about ultra racing is the little conversations you have with people along the way. As we climbed up from 700 feet to 3700 feet, we talked to everyone we passed, or who passed us.  I didn't know any of these people, but you always have something to say! People were cheering me on when I passed them and the conversations were easy as pie.

Another thing I noticed at this point was the gender difference. Not counting the very beginning where everyone is kind of finding their groove and everyone is passing each other, I only passed four women the whole race, and only two women passed me. The whole time, I was running with men, and was sometimes even passing them. Don't worry; plenty of them passed me too! I even took off my headphone around mile 2 and didn't even listen to music! I thought I would save it for the end when I needed a little pick me up.

Right before we got to Maggies, which is the "top of the hill" aid station that I volunteered at last year, we had to go up to the top of Rose Peak, which at 3,817 feet is the second tallest mountain in the East Bay. When you get to the top, you get a bracelet to prove you really went there and didn't just skip it. Then it was off to Maggies to say hi to my volunteer buddies from last year (the Boy scouts) and to refill the water bladder and eat some strawberries (BEST racing food EVER)! After that, it was supposed to be "all downhill from here" but as you can see from the chart, it was mostly downhill with a lot of uphills thrown in!

I can't remember if the worst part was right after Stewart's Camp or right after Schlieper rock, but one of those steep downhills was a tiny little single track trail that was very steep and rocky and hot and covered with poison oak. I was not loving it. In fact, it was at this point that I turned my music back on for a while and it was nice to have something to distract me from the brutal (down)hills! After the single track and the last aid station (and a swig of cold coke!), it was steep downhill to the end. Already a bunch of people had passed me on the downhills and by this point my knees were starting to wonder when it was going to be over. Actually, I think I heard them praying.

I hobbled ran down the last hill and I have to say, I have never been so happy to see a parking lot (and the finish line) than I was that day. I crossed the finish line, got a hug from the race director (such great service!) and collected my trophy for the day (a wooden block).

I ended up being the 6th woman overall, coming in at 6:31, which was about a half an hour after the fastest woman and about an hour and a half after the fastest man. Plus I got first in my age group! Except it's a little confusing the way they do it; the first three women get their own prize, so they get taken out of the age group awards. So technically I was the second in my age group, but whatever!

Ohlone 50k
The shirt had a tribute to Boston on it!

Some interesting stats: In the top 10 people (all men), one was in his 20s, two were in their 30s, three were in their 50s and four were in their 40s. This is not a young guy sport! The same goes for the women! The top woman was 48. The next four women were three in their 40s and one in her 30s.

Edited to add: If you love race reports, it's pretty interesting to read the reports of the  first, second and fifth place runners. They run as fast as 6 minute miles part of the way! They are pretty impressive! 

Afterward there was a picnic and I hung out for quite some time, eating hamburgers and cold watermelon and chatting with the people who had passed me on the trail.  Then I headed home, took a much needed shower and passed out around 8 pm.

What's your favorite food to eat on a hot day?  Have you ever received race paraphernalia that was little different from the norm? Do you like hiking to the tops of high peaks in your area?


  1. Nice work on the race! You are one tough person to tackles all those hills. And congrats on being first in your age group! That is awesome.

    My favorite hot weather foods are watermelon, ice cream, and popsicles. So one healthy thing. ;)

    I haven't hiked to any peaks in my area, but once I am out of the boot, I plan to do some hiking in the area!

  2. Sounds like a great, but tough race! Congrats and very cool award!

  3. Congrats on AG 1st place!! So cool:) I don't know how you do it;)

  4. Wow--you crushed a really, really tough course! Congrats! You are a stud.

  5. Congratulations!! Sounds like a tough course! Sorry we didn't get to meet up while I was out there. :(

  6. Hey congratulations on not only surviving your first Ohlone, but also kicking butt and brining home the big wood. Nice!

    Yeah, it's a tough course and usually very hot. My "secret" weapon is coconut water. I drink it just before the start and I fill both of my water bottles with it at the start. Lots of potassium!

    Would you mind if I link to your blog/race report from my own? I'm trying to provide a list of everyone else who wrote a race report this year. http://runningjohn.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-preamble-or-pre-ramble-im-runner.html

  7. Congratulations! You are amazing!

  8. Absolutely loved reading this race report. Probably because it is one race I won't ever run!! Seriously, you rock!

    If I were to hike to the top of a peak in my area, I would probably have to hike up the entrance ramp to the highway. Welcome to Midwestern living. ha.

    My favorite hot weather treats are watermelon, Italian ice, cold water and a gin 'n tonic.

  9. I love the wooden block award. I wish our races around here at more unique awards.

  10. YOU are a rock star! Great place! You deserve any food/drink you want.

  11. I love reading the details of your races. Bacon? Interesting. Congrats on placing 1st! Trail races always have the most unique "bling" haha.

  12. Wow, Kyria! You inspire me!! And to come in first in age group? SO awesome!

  13. Wow! You continue to inspire and impress! Nice job of getting first in your AG and having such a strong race! I hope you were able to avoid coming into contact with the poison oak!

    On hot days I love to eat cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, and popsicles.

  14. 8k elevation gain!! sounds like the local CO trail races. GREAT job on your finish...30 minutes off the winner sounds really good.

  15. Wow!!! Congratulations. Gnarly hills and race. You are such a rockstar.

    I love that there was bacon at the aid station.

    I love that it's an older person's sport. Old people rule!!


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