After spending a few weeks off the bike, and enjoying Christmas and New Year with family and friends, I decided I needed an early race to get in gear for 2009. As I raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade of Puerto Rico by racing sooner was better than later! What better event to choose than the historical Calico Ghost Town 50km (32miles) trail run! In Southern Californian desert lands!
Now before I get into the race report its self, I want to clarify there are no ghosts’ ghouls or goblins at Calico, but an historical silver mining town which was founded in 1881. Once a thriving community of silver miners, then after the value of silver declined large deposits of Borax were found! Mining continued until about 1910 when Borax was discovered nearer to LA in a town now known as Boron CA. In 1950 Walter Knott of the famous Knott’s Berry Farm purchased the land and later in 1967 donated the Town of Calico to the County of San Bernardino, it has been a County Regional Park since then dedicated to preserving the towns history the towns population is in single digits!! Hence the name Calico Ghost Town!
Race Morning arrived, I had already prepared my Fuelbelt back pack with water, hammer gel and a flask of concentrated Perpetuem, I had soaked the insoles of my Brooks Cascadia with Kool N Fit spray! My husband Al was the driver and I had his 2 daughters and Abbey our Grand daughter. I changed her diaper (Abbey is only 12 months!) and we were all in the car by 4.45am! We completely missed the turn off for Calico, it was pitch black and the directions read when you approach you will see the large letters of CALICO on the mountain side.. We saw nothing… Soon we were at the car park of Calico, there were runners everywhere, it was 6.30am, to sign in I had to go up a gazillion steps good way to warm up as temps were in the high 30s Brr.
The race started sharp at 7am, I was comfortable wearing my Brooks jacket and matching skirt was not too cold. The first few miles were quite fast as a little downhill and asphalt certainly helped! Then at about mile 3 the fun began as we were directed onto a fire road which was sandy and rocky. People began to slow down as their feet sank into the sand! It was like running on a beach! Soon the first water station was in sight, I took water and some endurolytes and anti fatigue caps, 7 down and 25miles to go!
This race had everything! From the fire road with sand and rocks to completely rocky trails, twisting ankle wrenching descents to long steady uphill ascents! I had worn my I pod I usually never wear music on trails, but when I came to about mile 18 there was what can only be described as a very challenging rocky chute appeared, in all seriousness I would have turned back had I not been in a race situation! Never been known for my downhill finesse I gingerly made my way down this section of the course, meanwhile about 7 other runners past my wimpy attempt at descending, time for music what better song than “I want to ride my bicycle” by Queen, I relaxed making new friends with every rock I stumbled on until I was past this section which in all honesty was less than a quarter mile! After that the course became a rollercoaster of up and down hills, I ran as fast as I could on the fire road and then I heard someone shout hey you are going the wrong way! I stopped and turned back then also shouted to the 2 other runners I was following! Back on the right trail another sharp uphill loomed ahead! This was beginning to be fun! As I crested the top and studied the serious descent I made my second mistake of the day which cost me yet another km as I ran straight instead of sharp right. I must add here that if someone is going to get lost it WILL be me! The course was well marked I just was not paying attention! I was very thankful to the other runners who called me back onto the course. The last 4 miles have challenges all of their own, and was comparable to running at a skateboard park up and down the course went snaking through natural arches sandy and slippery! Until the finish area could be seen! I looked at my Polar 625, I was so near! That I actually put in a 6 minute mile in the last 2 miles! Saying that the last section of the course is on asphalt and after that energy blast was greeted with the last uphill of the day to the finish line! Where my husband greeted me with the kids!
Despite the tricky terrain and getting off course a few times I had put a respectable time of 5 hours and 41minutes good enough for a top five female finisher and first place in 40-49 female! My family had had a good day riding a small train and discovering the mining town of Calico.
Happy with my first event of the season I raised $224 for Avon of Puerto Rico Breast Cancer Crusade, and would like to thank Hammer Nutrition, Brooks USA, Polar Monitors USA, Rudy Project glasses, Fuelbelt, Kool n Fit and my husband AL for his support.
All proceeds (100%) from this race will go to Discovery Trails, which is the non-profit organization supporting the Desert Discovery Center in Barstow, CA. The Desert Discovery Center supports education and preservation of the Mojave Desert.You may see Discovery Trails at work at http://www.discoverytrails.org .
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS