Race report: PCTR Sequoia 50K


Sequoia Trail Run - Oakland, CA
Sequoia Trail Run - Oakland, CA (Source: PCTR Website)

Just the Facts, Ma’am:

Elevation Gain: 5030′

Course Description: The course travels through the Oakland Hills by way of Joaquin Miller Park and Redwood Regional Park.  It is a fairly technical course (at least based on my experience) that wanders primarily through forest, with an abundance of canopy, a smattering of creeks, and a balanced combination of single track and open spaces.

My Experience:

This was my second 50K, my first being Way Too Cool, but my third time to run this trail.

My experience was great!  I came in at 6 hours and 10 minutes, a proud 20 minutes faster than I had expected.  I placed 2nd in my age group and just made it into the top 10 females.

Granted, I had no intention of finishing in the top 10 or anything.  My goal was just to finish, not too battered, and enjoy myself.  I finished.  I enjoyed myself.  I am a bit battered.

What I like about this run is that the elevation gain is spread out enough that you never have long stretches of walking.  A few minutes here and a few minutes there and you are back running again.

What’s tough about this run is that some of the downhills are really steep and rocky.  Toward the end of the run, I found myself slowing on the descents because I was tired and afraid I would slip or trip.

The 50K is basically two 20K loops and one 10K out and back.  I didn’t think I was going to like doing the same loop twice.  However, I actually found advantage in knowing what was coming.  I was able to easily monitor my effort, based on what was ahead of me.

PCTR trail runs come in many flavors.  Every race has some combination of a 10K, 20K, 30K and 50K.  This too I found advantageous.  For three hours I ran with quite a few people, including a handful from my running club.  After the 30kers were done, and it was just us ultra-freaks, everything went very quiet and peaceful.  This was my favorite part.  For 10 miles or so I got in a nice groove, and ticked the miles off one at a time.  There were three to four people I stuck with for that back 20K.  You pass each other along the way, but it is sort of nice to “be in it together”.

And as always, the PCTR team did a wonderful job of marking the trail and taking care of everyone.  The aid stations and post-run food can’t be beat.

(Although, you can over do it at the aid stations.  I found my club mate, Matt, struggling a little at mile 16.  He is a fast runner, so to catch him was very unusual.  He looked at me and simply said, “Too many jelly beans.”)

My next PCTR event is Skyline to the Sea, and I already can’t wait.




4 Comments Add yours

  1. Cynthia says:

    Congrats on a great race. Sounds like 50K is a piece of cake for you! And you had much better weather than for today’s Napa Valley Marathon!

    I tried to sign up for Sequoia b/c i need to get in some more long training runs, but alas it had filled up!

    Don’t think I can manage STTS b/c Miwok is a week later. I did it last fall and it’s quite nice (hopefully the bees will not be very active yet- i think they may have moved the race to the spring to minimize bee problems, since they were so bad last year.)

    If you want to be a real masochist, you could try Diablo 50 miler. 🙂

  2. runrunrunrun says:

    Thanks, Cynthia! “Piece of cake” would be the over-statement of the year. I literally couldn’t walk when I woke up this morning 🙂

    My mate ran Napa today. Said he ran the whole thing in the rain.

  3. jvoss says:

    Enjoyed reading this race report. PCTR is awesome.

  4. runrunrunrun says:

    Thanks Janna. I love PCTR too. They can take a lot of credit for increasing the number of trail and ultra runners in the Bay Area. Always great races and incredible “mom and pop” customer service. My first trail race ever was Sequoia, three years ago. Next year, my goal is to actually be competitive in the PCTR series, which means I’d run a PCTR race pretty much every month. That’s probably the point as far as they are concerned 🙂 It’s a win-win for everyone!

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