Sunday, April 3, 2016

Deception Pass Half Marathon Race Report - 2016

Deception Pass State Park is a 4,000 + acre park about 2 1/2 hours from my place in Lacey in which you can meander along ocean shoreline, tide pools, lakes and sheer cliff edges.  The pass itself is a straight that separates Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, connecting Skagit bay to the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Deception Pass Bridge crosses the pass connecting the two aformentioned islands; it's a breathtaking view and a stunning place to visit.
My wife and I made the trek up this past Saturday so I could race the Bellingham Trail Running Series Deception Pass Half Marathon. I wasn't too sure what kind of race I would have as I had been sideline with a knee injury for the first part of the year and had only recently got my average weekly mileage up to 40; a far cry from my 80+ this time last year.
The race started in the parking lot of West Beach. I went out fast with Benoit Gignac. I thought maybe he didn't intend to run that hard the whole race so I attempted to make a few early surges on him, but each time I'd pull ahead or catch up with him on a flat, he would widen the gap by twice as much on a descent. Nonetheless, we ran neck and neck for most of the race.
The course is only on the road for .2 miles before becoming all trail, excluding the 2 crossings of the iconic Deception Pass Bridge. There are two large climbs, the largest being Goose Rock. It's not a terribly long climb, but when you've been flying down smooth trail as fast as you can and then BAM! You're suddenly running up the side of a cliff; it hurts. The cumulative elevation gain on my watch said somewhere around 2,000 feet, but I don't have an altimeter, so it's hard to tell if that's accurate. I'll tell you one thing: it's a tough course!
The constant rollers and technical terrain make it hard to maintain a steady pace so you're forced to have strong skills on flats, climbs and descents if you want to run well. I couldn't hang on those technical descents. I tried to let go, but I would hesitate and Benoit would just vanish every time we hit a rocky, root strewn downhill section.
My favorite part of the race was the headlands. It's a quick single track lollipop that offers expansive views of the ocean and surrounding landmarks and makes you feel like you're in your own issue of Trail Runner Mag. It's breathtaking. From here it's only a few miles back to the the bridge and the West Beach finish.
The last 3 miles I never caught up to Benoit. I tried, but just not hard enough. I can't say I'm disappointed with my result, but I can say that I did not run a gutsy race. Not at all. I found myself thinking "If you sit back here and catch him at the end, then this will be the most ball-less race you've ever run." Benoit stayed super strong though and I never caught him. Still, it was the most ball-less race I'd ever run for 2nd place. That didn't make it any less enjoyable though! It was so beautiful and so much fun.
I want to thank Candice and Garret and all of the volunteers for such a great race. The course was marked SO well, it would have been impossible to get off track and everyone was super nice, fun and encouraging. At the finish line there was a live band and a BBQ and a ton of socializing. It was like a chill party and finally felt the way  trail running used to feel  to me. It's good to have that back again.
Thank you Pearl Izumi and Clifbar for the support this year and most of all thank you to my beautiful, supportive wife. I wouldn't be anywhere I am had I not met you.

I'll leave you with some photos:

Photo by Takao Suzuki

Photo by Takao Suzuki


Podium with Benoit

From the trail - post race hike

Photo by Takao Suzuki

1 comment:

  1. Nice report man!! Definitely a great read!
    Pics are awesome, great views.

    Oh, and congrats on your race!! Well done Sir!!!