Friday, September 23, 2011

Noble Canyon 50k Race Report

all photos by AnaMaria Hardel

I chose to drive down the night before the race and camp in the back of my Subaru.  I got to see a handful of friends who were also camping out, like John Hockett, who graciously let me graze on some good food he brought.  A big thanks to the Shriner's for letting us runners use there camp for the San Diego 100 and Noble Canyon 50k, their camp and lodge make for the perfect race venue.

Always nice to wake up at the race site and not have to wake up at a ridiculous hour to drive there.  Checked in and got my bib from the sweetest(sauce) RD Keira and finally met her beau the fastcat Jesse.  I couldn't help think as we shook hands and said our "nice to meet you's" that I can't wait to try and make you suffer at Los Pinos 50k.  He's got better climbing skills than I, so it'll be me suffering as I struggle to chase him, Jorge and Dom up the 8mi climb.

Elevation Profile:
31.3mi, 4k' of elevation gain.

Miles 0-6

The race started and I was stoked with the cool temperature, fingers were a bit numb and I was surprised to see frost on the grass in the first flat miles as we weaved along the forest edge through the pines, looking down on Big Laguna Lake.  Dean Dobberteen took the lead early on, with Fabrice Hardel on his heels and myself keeping them with in 10 yards or so.  We kept a 6:30 pace, which seemed reasonable in the flats in this cool air. 

Miles 6-13

As we began to descend into Noble Canyon Dean started to pull away from Fabrice a little and I felt comfortable keeping up with Dean so I slipped past Fabrice and we continued to fly down the canyon.  Considering how rocky and technical these miles were, I couldn't go much faster without being totally reckless, we snuck one mile in under a 6min/mi pace, which wouldn't be fast on a smooth downhill singletrack, but on this trail I was happy with that.  Ditched a waterbottle at the Big Tree Aid Station where the bad rat Tracy was holding it down.  If it weren't for Dean running ahead of me I doubt I would have ran down as fast as I did.  I was tempted to hold back a bit but I thought to myself... this is going to be the funnest part of the course, I might as well enjoy it, so I did.  We got to the bottom of the canyon, to the turn around with a 6:45 avg pace.  I filled up my waterbottle and snuck out of the aid station before Dean, taking the lead, as I headed back up Noble Canyon.

Miles 13-26

Before the race I was concerned about the turnaround and how I'd be coming up this technical singletrack with about 200 people coming down and how all of us would keep from running eachother off the trail.  It wasn't an issue at all, and I totally got a boost from all the people cheering me on, and I enjoyed cheering everyone else on and watching them cruise down the canyon.  I saw Fabrice about 4 minutes after leaving the turn around and I knew he'd make good time coming back up the hill.  I was a little releived to have this lead on him, but I knew it wasn't a lead he couldn't quickly overcome.  Knowing that he ran UTMB 3 weeks prior (in a stellar time) eased my worries a LITTLE bit.  Picked up the bottle I ditched on the way down as I ran through the Big Tree Aid Station again.  Kept cruising up to Penny Pines Aid Station that Pam Everett was running, got some gatorade and headed out.  Thanks Pam!  Enjoyed a short flat stretch before the gradual climb towards monument peak where I was spooked by Jesse Haynes out on the course.  Finally, done with the 13 miles of climing and time for some rolling hills.

Miles 27-31

Snagged some water from my homie Keira at the Rate Hole (aka Honey Badger Hole) Aid Station.  When I asked how much of a lead I had she said 4 minutes.  I was a little worried because I was starting to feel worn out.  Then at mile 28.5 I tripped, felt on some rocks hitting my shoulder and head, and my hammstrings totally cramped up.  I goofily rolled over and made it to my feet and started to walk/stretch for a couple minutes.  Great I thought, had the lead up until 2mi from the finish then cramped up to give it away.  Fortunatley, the cramping subsided and I was able to cruies to the finish in a time of 4:03 and change.  I couldn't help but remember running these last 6 miles or so, which were the same as the last 6 of the SD100 course, except this time it wasn't dark and I didn't have Jimmy Dean Freeman pacing me in his argyle Giants pants.  For anyone who ran Noble Canyon 50k and loved the course, you should give SD 100 some serious consideration as it is very similar, just 70 more miles.

'bout to kiss the rat
RD Brian Gonzalez, Fabrice, me, Scott Mills

You know it's going to be a well run race with guys like Brian and Scotty running the show.

Had absolutely no blisters and I still love my Drymax Socks, only feet issue was repeatedly stubbing my toe on rocks.

First thing I drank after the race was a bottle of pre-made chocholate FLUID recovery drink, perfect post run beverage.

Time to start training for Los Pinos!

Saw some camels near Julian on the way up to the race:

Those guys made me think of a great old song, enjoy!


  1. Awesome work Chris...sounds like you had a great day out there on a tough course. Congrats on the deserve it! See you on trail soon I hope.

  2. Nice job Chris - solid running lately.

  3. Thanks guys,

    Will: Great article in Ultrarunning mag. I was flipping through the pages and said, whoa... I know that guy.

    Billy: Are you going to pick a race anytime soon???

  4. I will consider myself successful when I "slip in a mile at under 6min/mi pace".

    Very impressive and nice report.

    I'm curious, what is your opinion of B2B long runs when training for something like this? I'm a sub-four hour marathoner and taking on my first 50 miler in December. Probably too big a race for me, but what can I say, the Army made me stupid.

  5. What a race!!! Loved running with you, thought I would catch you on then climb but you did good! 4:03 congrats you will keep that CR for a long time .

    Enjoy your recovery and good luck at Los pinos

  6. Jackalope,

    50 milers are fun, enjoy! Not sure where I stand on b2b long runs... probably a good idea. I don't do it too often, but I think that's more because of my random work schedule as an RN. I do think running a lot of miles in a week has been beneficial for me

    I thought you were going to catch me on the climb too! I'm only going to race you right after you run hard 100s from now on.

  7. Nice job Chris! You are a stud and a good representative of the sport...humble and cool as hell.


  8. Nice work! I seriously can't decide if I want to run Los Pinos myself, or just watch the four of you boys destroy each other. The latter seems like a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning :)

  9. Just read this recap. Total stud. AC sounds epic and it IS much more difficult than WS. It's gonna be awesome to see you run that!

  10. ANy chance you can tell us whats in the chocolate recovery drink? Or is it simply Nestle' Quick chocolate milk? Thx

  11. Anon,

    The chocolate recovery drink is made by FLUID:

    They have some other flavors, but the chocolate is my favorite. Lactose free, goes down surprisingly well after strenuous excersize.