Saturday, March 13, 2010

Coyote Two Moon 2010 - Race Report

In a word, this year's edition of the Coyote Two Moon 100 was Groovy, baby...Groovy.

This years installation included a pre-race Run, a tail gate party, Bowling shirts, bowling, great food, awesome schwag, a sing-a-long, a blizzard, a butt-kicking race course with ridiculous amounts of elevation AND hugs from a man dressed in a giant chicken costume at an aid station, on the mountain, in the middle of the night. Yep, it was all just a little bit different. Groovy.

We got the heck out of LAX and headed straight for the hills of Point Mugu State Park - where the Coyotes and friends were rumoured to be gathering. It was a pretty easy drive from the airport and an easy cruise along the coastal highway to Malibu and then to Point Mugu. Chris and Sue the Race Directors, were there for a Meet and Greet. A mellow tail gate party was in fully swing, but Keith and I had some energy to burn.

The weather was perfect for a runny-run, so we threw on the running clothes and headed out for a gorgeous loop of the trails, including part of the Ray Miller Trail.
The whole trip was worth it just to go running on this beautiful coastal trail: it was 1h45min of sweetness.

Tracks of the elusive Bigfoot!

That's the Ocean, yay Pacific Ocean!

We wrapped it up with a little tailgate party, with Potato Chips AND Karl Meltzer. Bonus points to Karl, as he was drinking beer and me, the featherweight, was not.

To top off a busy day that started at 3:00AM in the morning with a drive from Banff to Calgary, a flight to L.A, a car rental and drive along the ocean, there was Socializing and Bowling to be done. Keith put on his finest bowling shorts and I put on my super-hot Coyote Two Moon bowling shirt. And obnoxious socks. Groovy.

Dude, pretend you know what your doing.

I was officially the best dressed, but worst bowler.

It was great to see Glen Tachiyama and meet Victoria Folks. Victoria was in my start group and we were hoping to spend some quality time together. Unfortunately, I didn't get in a proper visit with Glen - next time Glen!

Howard getting his Grrrr On.

We rolled into Ojai, and got ourselves a super-duper good night of sleep before meeting up for the pre-race lunch and race meeting. That's where we continued with good people, good food and good times complete with Sing-a-long. Groovy.

Finally, a nice relaxing day before moving in to the campground. The camping was fantastic and the location was amazing - but not too many people were out there camping with us. Most of our fellow campers were partaking in the 100 Miler and had wacky start times in the middle of the night. C2M is unique with its staggered start format, the idea is that everyone finishes together around 10:00AM on Sunday morning, you have a party, eat and hand out prizes. It's a cool idea. My 3:00PM start time was the 2nd fastest 100km start group, which had us chasing all of the other runners all night. That was cool.

At precisely 2:45 it started to rain and at our 3:00 start time, it started to pour. I think there were 10 of us in our start group, huddled under a tent - wandering what the hell we were doing as we headed out into the rain and cold. I was still stoked and I was super-excited that my friend Doone was going to be joining me on this adventure as well! And like a herd of turtles we were off....

Doone and Victoria, playing in the rain...

I totally didn't have my Picture-taking Mojo going on for this race - it was the combination of night running, rain and mud that didn't make for great photo opportunities. But I'm sure the view was fabulous!

We started upward immediately with our first climb of the day, marching up the hill with Regan Petrie, Florencia Gascon-Amyx, Victoria and myself. Doone went ahead, with and all of the guys in our start group. We all had a great visit on the way up and regrouped with Doone at the first aid station. I was unusually quiet, because I was actually working hard! By the time we ran the length of the ridge and rolled into the second aid station, the rain had abetted and we were a group of 3.

Doone and Victoria

I think I was looking undeniable sexy, foxy yet sporty in this series of hot photographs.....

Tequila - at the Aid Station

Night descended quickly - maybe it was the combination of the storm a brewin' and the heavy cloud coverage. But allofasudden, it was dark. And it twas' a dark and stormy night! Soon after it got dark, it started to rain, which turned to snow, which turned to a full-on blizzard on top of the ridge. We were soaked to the skin, at full mercy of the storm and completely exposed. It got worse and came down harder. We were being pelted by ice crystals and snow, which stung our faces and limited our vision. With our headlamps on and the snow blowing, we couldn't see a thing. We wanted to put on more layers, but it was to exposed so we put down our heads and ran harder. When we rocked into the aid station, wild-eyed at the weather - we realized that we missed a turn-off. Inadvertently, during the height of the storm and blowing snow we ran right by our junction! Oops! Suddenly, our race had turned into a 90km race instead of a 100km race....and I was totally O.K with it.

From Gridley Top to Cozy Dell Aid Station, we descended aboout 3000ft. and as we did, things started to warm up considerably. The last mile and a half into Cozy Dell had turned into a quagmire of muddy goodness.

I was so thankfull that I had my poles - while the girls slipped and slided their way down the treacherous slope, I stayed upright and moved quick. If ever there was a race course for using poles, this one was it. With the all of the monster uphills and downhills, the poles were awesome. We lost Victoria at Cozy Dell, she was feeling great but didn't have enough clothes to stay warm and head back out into the night. Keith was also there to give hugs, it's always great to have your own personal cheering section. He'd been working at the aid station for a few hours.

Doone and I spent the rest of the night walking up the ascents and running down the descents. It was all a bit of a blur, but I can tell you this: even for a mountain girl like me, I couldn't get over how huge these descents were, only to have us tag the bottom and turn around to march back up the same trail.
It was'...Groovy. At Gridley Top aid station, as well as all of the others, we were well taken care of. In the middle of the night we were greeted by Chris, the race director and head Coyote, wearing a giant Chicken costume. Really. It was awesome. Luis Escobar had tamales on the grill and there was snow all around. Surreal. And Groovy....

Finally, around 6:00AM it started to get light. The wind had died down, the clouds lifted and all of a sudden - the ridge was a beautiful place.

There was a significant amount of snow that had fallen, turning that Southern Californian ridgetop into Winter Wonderland. I finally bust ourt my camera, because it was really gorgeous. We hooked up with Michael from Seattle, as we ran along the ridge top to the last aid station. We were making good time. Michael was having a great race and was one of only 2 people to finish from my start group. We passed Jonathon on the descent, the only other finisher from our group. Jonathon was on his spring break from college and he choose C2M as his first ultra. I think he learned lots running around on this dark and stormy night! Only 9 people finished out of the 35 that started the 100km distance.

Doone and Michael

Groovy, baby.

Snowy Yucca

Snow Angels

When we finally hit the last aid station, there was a bonfire blazing. The volunteers who had been up all night were looking frozen - but Ken Hughes had cooked up some bacon on the BBQ. Bacon! I had met Ken on the trail in the middle of the night, while running The Bear 100.

Ken Hughes

From that last aid station, I think it was 5 miles to the finish line and Doone and I blazed, skipped, hopped and danced down that last downhill. We were on fire. It was a nice way to finish a race, even though we didn't actually finish. I like to think that we were the unofficial WINNERS of the first ever Coyote Two Moon 56 Miler. Either way, it took us 17 hours and 20 minutes to run 56 that probably gives you a good indicator of how crazy this course is.

While we were descending, the winter world turned back into a summer world before we arrived, happily, at the finish line for our non-Victory-victory lap. Hurrah!
Indian Paintbrush

Doone and I. Done. Sort of.

Andy Boyd

I was really impressed with the 100 Milers. Some of these folks dragged themselves through not one, but 2 long, dark nights. Andy started at 6:00PM in the evening on Friday night. He finished on Sunday morning at 9:45AM. Now THAT is impressive. I think Andy was also the oldest finisher. There were only 23 finishers out of 63 for the 100 miler, which featured 25,000 feet+ of elevation, as well as the mud and the blizzard.

So, in a word: Groovy.

After Catra Corbett crossed the finish line as the last official runner, we settled in for some lounging in the sunshine. Keith and I visited with Florencia and her friends and I tried my hardest to appear to be more coherent than I felt. There was a fully catered brunch waiting for us, with eggs, potatoes, bacon, fruit and the works. Heaven. Awards were handed out and Doone and I received a goofy prize for sticking together: my 90km's in the dark stormy night wouldn't have been nearly as much fun without her. Thanks for the fun, Doone!

If you've survived this epic race report, Congratulations. I'm going to sum it up by borrowing some comments that were made by other runners on the Coyote Two Moon website.



“I learned several things tonight":

1) A chicken tamal, fresh out of the steamer, might be the best mid-race food EVER.

2) C2M= quality event with great aid stations and great people.

3) Canada’s reputation as a country with quality people was upheld in fine fashion. (yay!)

4) Clothing for rainy Bay Area runs is woefully inappropriate for snow flurries atop Northoff Ridge.


“after two full days on the Nordoff Ridge / Coyote 2 Moon / Gridley Top Aid Station, I have composed a haiku: Enjoy." Luis Escobar

Cold dark wet dripping tents

Shivering runners stagger in

Giant chicken helps them out


“Now that my brain has recovered, I have a few thoughts about the opportunity for the emotional and physical pain and torture that you and your crew provided at C2M 2010. Because of:

1. The 54,000 feet of up and down, some very, very steep, and all on trails or rough roads,

2. The brilliant sunshine (about 15 minutes of it),

3. The cool rain (a lot of it a few times),

4. Some wind (a lot of it a few times),

5. Mud (a lot of it a few times),

6. Several very wet stream crossings,

7. Snow (a lot of it a few times, but especially the run on the fresh three inches along the ridge for miles at 3 AM with a calm wind and a half moon – WOW!),

8. The truly ULTRA volunteers and the RD who could not do enough for the runners – especially those who endured the rain, snow, wind, darkness, and mud at the aid stations on the ridge for hours. They don’t come any better. The runners owe them.

9. Great swag that is definitely distinctive and useful (except possibly the flyer for Sacred Vortex Tours with Elvis of Sedona…),

10. And finally, a fun celebration at the finish line on Sunday morning, complete with a catered breakfast and warm sunshine,

- I have determined that the C2M 2010 was one of the most fun ultras I have ever run in over the last 25 years. For me, it was definitely what trail ultrarunning is all about. Many thanks to you and your crew for the run, and see you next year – I wouldn’t miss it.”

– Bud Phillips


I was the first 100K-er across the finish line (6:20AM) but almost certainly not the winner.

I lined up at noon next to Karl Meltzer. I finished the next morning about three hours ahead of him. You could look it up. Well maybe not online, but Dave Combs has it scribbled down somewhere.

The 100K has over 19K feet of climbing, the 100M- 25K. It’s gnarly even without weather.

The week before was sunny and nice, as the week after is predicted to be.

The forecast was for a big storm to move in Saturday around noon (my starting time) and move out Sunday morning (presumably just as I crossed the finish line).

How big? Forecasts were ambiguous. If the storm veered a little west, we would get a glancing blow and apart from some showers and very cold temps, no big deal. If the storm veered more to the east, it could be epic.

The first 100M’s started Friday evening, the rain started on schedule Saturday at 11. Our group left at noon. Until well after dark we experienced about 1/3 dry, 1/3 showers and 1/3 hard rains. Up high the rains turned to hail, then sleet, then snow. The sleet blew sideways and stung my face. The snow came down in big fluffy flakes and brought joy. The rain was cold, miserable and disheartening. No one ever knew what would come next but reports were it would get worse in the evening and then stay bad through Sunday morning. I was feeling whiny.

The trail to Cozy Dell (mile 30 for 100K-ers) included two steep miles of slick clay mud. If you know clay mud you know that it is the equivalent of a surface layer of vaseline over a base of stainless steel. Pretty much everyone was falling down. At Cozy Dell at 8, I put on warmer clothes for the trip back up to the arctic ridge. In the course of changing clothes I got chilled. The guy next to me dropped. The rain went from drizzle to downpour. I didn’t want to go back out into the cold rain, I didn’t want to go back up the muddy trail, I didn’t want to go back up on the frozen ridge. But I went. Some stupid voice in my head said, “How can you make plans to go to Barkley if you can’t handle this?” I left the warm tent, the rain stopped and never returned. Later I found out that lots of folks dropped out just about that time, not wanting to face a full night of this crud. On the ridge a blizzard was raging with white-out conditions. Trail markers were obliterated. The RD began worrying about the safety of runners on a 6000′ ridge, in the middle of the night, in freezing white-out conditions. [The guy’s an idiot of epic proportions.]

The rest of my night was lots of fun. From the ridge there are four down and up again spurs; plus the trail that we ascend initially and descend ultimately. We cover about nine miles of the ridge. As the night wore on and the clouds parted, guess what? The ridge got warmer. Go figure.

I began my nine mile trek along the ridge from Gridley Top to Ridge Junction around 3AM. Soon I was in 2, 3, 4 inches of snow. A winter wonderland. This wasn’t here a few hours ago. My flashlight went dead and I left it off. The moon was now out, the new snow shining bright; the city lights stretching as far as the eye could see 5000′ below, the shooting stars put on a show for free. It wasn’t very cold. I was feeling groovy.

It was great connecting with so many ultrarunning friends and acquaintances. Chris Scott and his pals put on a unique and wonderful event. But it isn’t usually this unique. Not quite epic, but with a small change in atmospheric pressure, it certainly could have been.”

– Mark Swanson


HappyTrails said...

You are right - a little tan on the legs is a very good thing (I'm feeling it, too! :-) ) Sounds like you had a blast - I bet you really picked up speed in the snow - it probably felt like home! Thanks for sharing all the great pics - lots of fun!

Unknown said...

Great pics! I had tons of fun hanging with you and Doone until the lack-o-clothing caught up with me. I hope you both come back next year, because I am definitely doing this race again and you were fantastic running buds! (I can't believe how beautiful it was in the morning, too! Winter Wonderland in SoCal!!)

Brian said...

If only that blizzard hadn't hidden the trail. Those socks alone would have given you enough bonus points to be victorious!

Journey to a Centum said...

I'm a little surprised that the Canadian Government would allow their flag to be on such fashion statements as those socks!

Wow what a crazy visit to So. Cal! Thank you for breaking down the experience for us! 54,000 feet? What? What? What?

Are you watching Sledge Hockey?

Leslie said...

Hi Kathleen,
It did sort of feel like home, with all of the walking up large steep slopes I was doing! I feel great - probably 'cause I walked so much!

Hi Victoria-
Great to meet you! Maybe we can convince the boy to join us again for another C2M adventure...keep in touch!

Hi Brian,
I think those groovy socks did buy me some bonus points...

Hi Eric,
Yup, in Canada we're all about the red, white and... yellow. It's true, this race does have a truly ridiculous (read: extremely challening) amount of elevation. Fortunately, I saved my Quads for the last big downhill - I felt sorry for all of those 100 Milers that we flew by on the last descent!

Gretchen said...

Awesome report, Leslie! I can't believe your one word to describe it was groovey. You have the best attitude! But I guess that is the only way to handle such conditions. I talked to a bunch of folks this past weekend whe were in the 100M and it sounded brutal. Very cold. But I guess that's why you Canadians could go down there and rock it. That's not cold to you!
Nice job!

Leslie said...

Hi Gretchen, as well as being Groovy, it was practically tropical out there!

ExtrmTao said...

Nice work on your first "challange" of the year. Here's to the rest of them going well!!

Leslie said...

Thanks Jonathan! I've got to find an adventure for April or May...

Sara Montgomery said...

Hey Leslie! Enjoyed the report and pics! Wow, what a crazy race, thanks for sharing the details. :)

RunSueRun said...

Leslie! I am just now reading through all the C2M reports, comments, etc., after being a little, err, "busy" in NH for a couple of weeks. ;-) Congrats on your run!! (and I especially enjoyed your finishing lap around the playing field, heehee.) It was *awesome* meeting you & Keith. You two are so much fun, wish we could've spent more time together, BUT... the Big Chicken keeps blathering on about going up to Banff, so it looks like we may have to do that...


Norma Bastidas said...

As usual awesome report leslie, i just sign to run it this March, your blog post will help me a lot!


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