Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sean O'Brien 50 Mile Race Report

Photo by

Thanks Keira for another stellar event!  I love all your races, and since the Griffith Park 1/2 Marathon I've learned that your shorter distance races are just as much fun and will have to do more =)  Loved hanging out with tons of friends at the finish, eating good food and rehashing the race.

D-Bo, whoa.  Congratulations on your victory way to keep your SoCal streak alive.  Congrats to Cassie Scallon too for a stout W.

Predictions: I was spot on, predicting the male and female winners within minutes!  I'm going to start taking bets next race, house will get 10% cut...jk jk.

How'd my run go?  Felt like I paced myself well, might have pushed it a little too hard up the 2nd big climb coming up from Bonsall Aid Station.  Up to this point I ran a lot with my good friend Jesse Haynes, and then yo-yo'ed for miles with William Tarantino from Mammoth, watch out for this guy in the future.

Wolfpack Hustle
photo by Jayme Burtis

Approaching the top of the final big climb, I kept seeing Mike Wolfe a minute or too ahead and exerted myself to catch up with him.  It was an honor to meet Mike Wolfe, and I enjoyed chatting for a couple miles.  Good luck at Transgrancanaria next month Mike!  I felt great coming into Kanan Aid Station at mile 36 and got a little boost upon hearing that I was now in 4th place and a golden ticket for Western States had my name scrawled in pencil on it, I was only 5 minutes off my splits to finish in 6:40.

Photog. Erik Schulte "Fox"

A couple miles later the wheels started falling off.  The muscles in my legs just died.  I've never hiked so many gradual climbs in a 50 miler before.  Dom and Timmy Olson caught up to me just before the Corral Aid Station (6 miles from the finish), I briefly passed them as they filled up their bottles.

The way my race finished was very humbling.  Dom out raced me for the first time in our 7 races together.  He has stepped up his game big time.  He did not just got lucky this time, he has improved immensely and I'm looking forward to toeing the line with him again... but before that I'm sure we'll log a ton of training miles together.  He's a good friend and I'm excited to see that unicorn tear it up at other races this year.   It was also humbling to have Timmy Olson catch me, then meet up with his wife and father-in-law and cruise to the finish with them (which allowed me to pass), other wise I wouldn't have gotten 4th.  Upon getting caught by those two I was in a low spot physically and mentally so I told Dom, "just go, you can catch Wolfe and get on the podium, I'm not going to take the ticket to states," but in an act of generosity he cruised in to the finish with me, letting me cross a second in front of him.

Brothers don't shake hands.
Photo by Ivan Buzik

My shoes, The Hoka One One Rapa Nui's were awesome.  Best shoe's I've ever worn on the trail.  My feet felt great the whole race, better than they ever have after a 50 miler.  I'm looking forward to hitting the roads a bit as I recover with my Hoka Conquest's and start doing a lot more speed work for my wife and I's next race, the Cheseboro Half Marathon next month.

Thanks for covering the race Bryon Powell!  Nice getting to meet you and hang out a bit pre-race as well.

Thanks to Wolf Creek Brewery for sponsoring the race and giving us a 5 cent pint after the race.  Loved eating a delicious burger post race with a ton of friends there.

Congrats to Michael Ryan on a solid first 50 miler which qualifies you for AC!  Way to go Jim McClain & Jon Foley on your first 50k's!

I'd like to thank Rose for a couple amazing massages prior to the race.  She really helped me work out a couple kinks.  Anyone in the Pasadena interested in massages should hit me up for her contact info, she gives the best massages I've ever had.

My Garmin deets are here.

I'm sure some people think that it is kind of lame that I got my ticket the way I did, having a friend back off a little to let me finish in front of him.  I agree.  I much rather would have just gotten 4th place outright.  But should I pass up this opportunity?  I don't think I should.  The whole situation is unsettling, but interesting.  The best way for me to proceed from here is to train my ass off, have fun doing so and prove my worthiness by circling the Placer High School Track around 10pm on June 28th.

Speaking of training, time for me to head back to the mountains... here's a shot of my backyard training ground Echo Mountain, the former "White City," before it burned down:

If you've ever run up here you know how different it looks now, crazy hunh?  If I've learned one thing during my recent inhabitance here in SoCal it is that everything burns, it's just a matter of when.  The way the winter is looking so far, we better start doing some rain/snow dances (my micro-spikes are getting rusty).

Here's a cool video Billy Yang made of the race:


  1. This is awesome! So darn proud of you all. You should be so proud of yourself. Remember everything happens for a reason, and the way it was meant to play out. You are meant to go to States. Use it as fuel, and in the end don't sweat it. Just do your best, put your heart into it, and accept it for what it is. Its perfectly ok that you got your spot the way you did. You earned it. Thats a fact. You are incredibly talented, and amazing. :)

  2. That's what friends do! Really glad to see you're headed to WS. It'll be a fun spring training with you and Dom...and getting my ass constantly kicked should get me better.

  3. awesome race chris. so stoked for you guys all racing WS. it's going to be rad watchign from the sidelines.

  4. It's kind of like that Biathlon twins story. You know, the one where the chick gave her sister the Team USA spot, because she was too sick to compete in the final qualifier? Her reasoning? Her sister was insanely talented, having an awesome year and DESERVED to go to Sochi. That's you bro. Western States is the closest thing we have to the Olympics and everyone knows that you more than deserve to be there. Personally, I'm really excited to see the 3 of you represent Southern California & show everyone that we (semi) know what we're doing down here.

    1. Thanks KD, we're gonna have so many fun activities together!

  5. Dude, you have so much to be proud of (I certainly was for you) and what Dom did only underscores what this awesome community is all about. Thanks for letting me run with you here and there throughout the race. Go SoCal...see you at States!!!

    1. Thanks Billy. Great video you made! I just added it to my post, keep up the good work. See you on the trails =)

  6. Pretty much what everyone said above. You're definitely worthy of going up to compete at States. We do need more SoCal runners to rep for us up there! I'm very excited for Dom, Jesse and you wolfpack to race your hearts out up there. I'm sure Nano will be shadowing you guys too. It'll be a fun race to follow for sure!

  7. Thanks for the kind words everyone! Can't wait to go to states with a bunch of good friends and race my heart out.

  8. See you at States Chis. Maybe this time we can share a PBR after all or, if you insist, a Sierra Nevada. Good work and keep it real. (I need to start training!).

  9. wow...what a great recap! Awesome exchange there with your buddy Dom. You deserve that spot and someday you will be in a spot to the something similar for another. Thanks for sharing