Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beacon Rock 50K race report

Leading up to the Beacon Rock 50K I got a solid 7 week training block in with my biggest week topping out around 12 hours with 17,000ft of vert; my biggest week of vertical gain ever. That might not seem like a lot, but the last 4 months have been a slow process returning from some overuse injuries. It could have been a much slower return, but thankfully Aaron Anders helped me out and I was able to train through the process a bit. Needless to say, I was really excited to race an Ultra that I felt prepared for! It had been a while.
I drove up to Beacon Rock State Park the day before the race to take advantage of Rainshadow Running's free group camping. I wish I had arrived a day earlier because they had all sorts of activities from climbing, to swimming, to hashing, which I missed out on. I suggest you partake in the whole Rainshadow experience when running their races! Totally worth it.
Race morning I woke at 4 a.m. to what sounded like the Amazon rainforest. The birds were so loud! They were natures alarm clock and I was fine with that. I ate my breakfast, drank some cold coffee and then headed over to the pre race briefing. James made a comment about the William Emerson double crown, where you win the 25K and the 50K in the same race. I had the "Yea right" face on but the "can I do that?" thought. And we were off!

Here's the course profile:

The 50K is two loops of the 25K which I really liked because I knew what to expect on the second loop. The course starts with a nice jarring downhill pavement stretch before going right into the first long climb. Myself, Connor Meakin and Matt Palilla pretty much stuck together for the first 15 -20K with Masazumi Fujioka trailing behind. Both of the climbs are long and steady with one very steep section towards the top of the first climb and some spaced out stairs in the middle of the second climb. But it's all runnable. When Connor started to pull away, I figured I'd see him again and knew I only had to worry about Masazumi who is a very strong runner and, I had a feeling, one hell of a closer.
This race is either up or down. I doubt there's even a mile of flat running. The downhills were a lot of fun though; Smooth single track that you could just really hammer. And the views at the top outs were breathtaking. Being up there in the mountains with the wildflowers and fresh air really made me miss living in Washington.
When I was heading towards the start/finish area to start my second loop, Connor was coming back about a half mile ahead of me. He looked strong and very happy. We high fived and he kept on hammering. At the start/finish I switched out my water bottle for a larger one, which was a good choice since it got warm later, and grabbed my iPod for some motivation on the second loop.
Heading out on the second loop Masazumi was coming in from his first loop right behind me, smiling and looking strong. I knew I would have to push to stay ahead of him. But I blew up a bit on that 3rd climb. Towards the top I found myself power hiking and thinking "Screw racing. I'm done with this." I let Masazumi pass. I ate a Clifshot. I turned up my music. I put one foot in front of the other and suddenly my negative feelings went away. They went away and they never came back. This was a first for me during a race as I usually have a lot of trouble staying positive in the last 10 miles of a 50K.
The 4th climb was a bit of a grind as well, but once I was up on the ridge it felt like there was no other place in the world I would rather be. It was beautiful. The last 6 miles were all downhill so I just kept on pushing. At the last aid station one of the volunteers told me that Masazumi was only a couple minutes ahead of me, but I was content with where I was and didn't try to pick up the pace to catch him.
I came through the finish in 04:50:03 which was a good 30 minutes off my goal time, but considering the big picture I was happy with it. Masazumi was 2nd in 04:46:31 and Connor was 1st in 04:23:25. I always creep Ultra Signup before I race, so I kind of knew who my competition was, but I have to be honest and say that I did not expect Connor Meakin to run that hard and take the course record. It was really impressive.
When I finished I laid down in the grass. Put my headphones in. And enjoyed the feeling of being where I belong. I haven't felt like I was home since we left Washington, but I felt it at Beacon Rock. And it felt good.
As always James Varner stayed at the finish line and high fived every runner that came through (even the runners who didn't make the cut off). There was great pizza, cold beer and good company. I love Rainshadow Running events! Just like they say "Why run anywhere else?"

A little shake out up Beacon Rock 

The view from Beacon Rock

Hotel Konga

The top of the first climb. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

The ridge after the final climb. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Uphill Running. The man, the myth, the legend (and the guy you get race coverage from). 

Project Talaria filming.

Finish line lounging

Gear used:

  • Pearl Izumi Trail N1
  • Pearl Izumi Ultra Split Short
  • Pearl Izumi Team 7 Hills Fly Singlet
  • Drymax Run-lite mesh mini crew socks
  • Team Pearl Izumi Ultra Half Buff
  • Amphipod handheld
  • Ultimate Direction Essential  waist pack
  • Suunto Core


  • Night before: 2 Ham sandwiches, 3  Caldera Pilot Rock Porters
  • Breakfast: 1 Banana, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of coffee, 1 hand full of salted almonds
  • Race: 7 Clifshots. Chocolate, Mocha and Razz.


  1. Nice read, Korey! Glad you were able to climb out of the rough patch and finish off the race strong. Well done, bro!

  2. Awesome job! Glad you guys didn't lap me. : )

    1. Thanks :) Fun place to race! Hope you had a good one!

  3. Korey, cool area to run in! Why don't you post your data to Strava, searched for you on it and it looks like you have an account just no uploads. -Alex

    1. It was so awesome! I love being home. I don't have GPS so I don't do strava. I get too weird and obsessive about it.
      Speaking of weird and obsessive... how are those Pete's times coming along?

  4. Haven't taken a hard crack at Pete's in a while, probably have to wait for the trails to moisten up for some good traction and break the 17:00 barrier. Strava can be tough for the obsessive, but it's a motivating and worthwhile tool for the data and such and fun to see how we local yokels stack up against all you sponsored semi-pros. Not training for anything other than plenty of mountains and trails to come this summer.