Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile | California | July 20, 2013
Bucket List Wonderful
By Gary Dudney
What does it take to get named by Outside magazine as one of the top ten “bucket list” events for trail runners IN THE WORLD? It takes a really first class event, and new race director George Ruiz was laser focused on keeping the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K/50M/100M worthy of that recognition and then some. In my humble opinion, he and his army of volunteers succeeded in spades. There was so much about this race that was special, unique, and excellent, it’s hard to know where to start with the praise.
Well, let’s start with the finishers’ buckle introduced at the race orientation with a video that delights and astonishes with the intricacies of the workmanship put into the buckle. A Carson City mint stamped medallion is even embedded in the buckle’s center. Talk about building up a wanderlust for making it to the finish line! Carson City’s major, Bob Crowell, was there to welcome us. He mentioned that Carson City had been designated a “runner friendly” town by the Road Runners Club of America and the race support staff, many from the area, certainly were evidence of the level of commitment given to runners by the community. His Honor also allowed that he would “take care” of any problems we might have while visiting his city.
RD Ruiz ran through the stellar list of sponsors, including Patagonia, Black Diamond, Clif, Injinji, Starbucks, Succeed, just to name a few, which obviously resulted in great swag and essentials for the race, and for crying out loud, Starbucks coffee at the aid stations. He also warned of record high temperatures and the eight thousand foot average elevation of the route, so the normal challenge of a Sierra Nevada situated, rugged course was to be amped up by the severe heat and dryness of the air.
Heat or not, the setting for the race, the spectacular Tahoe Rim Trail above the northeast shore of Lake Tahoe, couldn’t have been more glorious. The gnarly pine forests, the weird rock formations, the sweeping views of Tahoe and other alpine lakes, the ski resort at Diamond Peak, the twisted deadwood scattered over the forest floor, monster round boulders strewn across a dried lake bed, the alpine majesty of Snow Valley, all made for a non-stop delight to the eye.
The fabulous aid stations helped immensely. There was always a volunteer intercepting you as you approached the aid station, in fact a polite Boy Scout using your first name at the Snow Valley aid station. Your drop bag would appear at once. Someone was always bringing whatever you wanted to your chair, which might include a hamburger, quesadillas, soup, a full breakfast, or even a smoothie. At one aid station I was offered five different flavors of Hagen-Das. Ice was everywhere, even though runners were snapping it up left and right. One station even had a table that was a big trough full of ice with all the usual stuff sitting right in the ice cooling off. Wow!
There were medical checks and weigh-ins to keep us safe, signs marking major turns, as well as ribbons every tenth of a mile to keep us on course. Following the course even at night was no problem. But wait, there’s more. The host hotel staff was up at two in the morning to serve breakfast before the start. Cushy buses took us from Carson City up to Spooner Lake State Park for the start and then a fleet of rented shuttle vans helped runners get from one parking area to another and back to Carson City. There were showers at the finish and the drop bags neatly arranged in the parking lot as soon as you were done. With that kind of support, all that was left to the runners was to endure the heat and the fifty mile tour of the course and then do it again during the night.
Everything about this race was stellar, including a real ultrarunning test that came at mile 30 and then again at mile 80, a steep, two mile climb at Diamond Peak that twisted and turned relentlessly up to the top of the ski resort. Especially in the heat of the day, it was a monster, but it was just the sort of thing that made the Tahoe Rim Trail so special.
Why, it makes me think that anyone home abed that day back in England will hold their manhood cheap who was not there with their ultrarunning brothers and sisters to face that climb. Apologies to Shakespeare, but be that as it may, put the Tahoe Rim Trail ultras on your bucket list.