Sunday, October 12, 2014

Euchre Bar Massacre, you are my jam.

I ran the Euchre Bar Massacre 50-miler yesterday. In its second year, the Massacre is a fat ass (a low key fun run) in the North Fork of the American River. I've been told about the North Fork before, but it hadn't really registered. Now I understand, and I will definitely be going back.

The race is in the Barkley style--off trail, a ridiculous amount of steep climbing, minimal aid stations, and books placed in the woods. You rip your bib number's page out of the book as you go along to prove that you covered the ground you were supposed to. The organizer asked us not to share the directions or map with those not involved, so I'll only post this elevation profile. Look at it! A thing of beauty.

By my Garmin: 18,820 feet of climbing in 46 miles, or slightly steeper than Hardrock. The entire race is probably closer to 60 miles, but unfortunately I did not finish. The race is best thought of in terms of hills, of which there are 8. There were only two cutoffs (9 hours for three hills) and then a late cut-off (21 hours for seven hills). Hill five included some nasty bushwhacking the way I went, but I used GPS (as allowed) to go right to the book, and I saw a friend on the way down who told me I was in second place, and even though this was incorrect, it made me feel pretty good. I just hadn't looked at my Garmin for anything other than elevation or to look at my digital breadcrumbs, so I had no idea what time it was. On the way up hill six, I realized it was already midnight, and there was no earthly way I (or anyone on Earth, really) could climb, traverse, descend the nastiest, slickest, shale-and-dry-oak-leaves covered slope on the planet (Ebenezer's Highway), and climb thousands of feet on an old mining road completely overgrown with blackberries in less than three hours.

I finished climb six and got to the drop bag location in the middle of the traverse at 1:59 AM. There wasn't a firm cutoff there at the drop bags, or I had at least made the cutoff technically speaking. However, this was the place with car access, and the run organizer was shuttling earlier runners back to the start/finish campground, so I waited 10 or 15 minutes for him to get back. Three of the four people in front of me (all but the leader) dropped there, so I did too. Of course, they were all demolished, and I was honestly feeling fine. I could have kept going, then after hill seven, I would have had to skip hill eight and run back to camp on dirt roads. Now that I've had time to think about it, I really wished I'd kept going. Only one person finished the run, and I would have been the only person to make it through seven hills. Plus, what else do I have going on? I don't have any other races this year I need to be rested for, so I should have gone for it. On the other hand, the run was free, organized by a regular dude just for fun, and he made it clear at the start of the race he didn't want to be hanging around all day Sunday, so it seemed fair to call it when I was near a car instead of wandering into camp under my own power the next morning.

I'm a self-loathing wuss is what I'm telling you. But I'm also telling you I had the most fun I've had in a long time. I loved the rugged course, and though I ran by myself the whole time, I enjoyed my interactions with the small field of runners far more than a typical race. The more insane and at the same time under the radar the race, the more I find my people.

Standing in the middle of the North Fork of the American River at midnight

Inspirational reading

Words to Live by


Side Canyon

Euchre Bar Bridge

Finding books in the woods.

Good morning.

Go up and down this eight times.

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