March 5: Way Too Cool 50k

I ran Way Too Cool 50k about a month ago and it was super fun. The race is fairly well-known; I had been aware of it for years. Specifically, I knew it was hard to get into, and it took place in Auburn, CA – The Endurance Capital of the World, and home to races like Western States 100. It is also about 20 minutes from where I used to live.

This race ended up being a fun choice for reasons of friendship and community:

  • I signed up for the lottery based on the recommendation of a friend from sailing (who is also a runner).
  • Two of my friends from swimming were also running it
  • They were running with a large group of folks who will also be running Lake Sonoma 50 miler, which I will also be running, and so I met more people that way
  • I got to hang out with a bunch of the aforementioned folks at their Airbnb afterwards
  • One woman who I met on this course, I also ran into a few weeks later at a different trail run

So overall, a worthy way to deepen friendships and make new ones.

The race itself was pretty great, for a variety of reasons.

  • It’s a pretty easy course in terms of hills and terrain. The first 8 miles is a fairly flat loop, then the course heads down to the American River, then the back part of the course is a lot of uphill (less awesome, but still gorgeous).
  • The scenery is obviously beautiful. I wish I had taken more photos, but there are sweeping vistas of canyons, rolling hills, and rivers throughout, and some gorgeous moments where fog wove through hills covered with pine trees. Absolutely stunning.
  • I had run much of the course before due to living nearby. There was one part of the course, around mile 10-11, that I ran about ten years ago, got lost due to making a wrong turn, fell down a rocky cliff and busted open my arm, then still had to run 4 miles back to the car – still have a scar from that one. WTC50k was fun because I got to observe where exactly I made the wrong turn, much to the amusement of my fellow runners.
  • River crossings were fun!
  • It’s a large race – about 550 people – which is a LOT for a trail 50k. I’m not sure I loved this aspect of it, because with a lot of single-track, you were either passing or being passed at almost all times. It did make it social, but more in the “let’s generally say hi to people and cheer them on” way, instead of the “let’s engage in deep and meaningful conversation for hours” way; the latter is more typical for ultras and also more my speed.

Anyway it was a fun day! Here are some pictures.

View from the hotel the night before. If you wanna see more of my more pretty photos, .
Start line about 24 minutes before the race
Hanging at the start line
SO MANY runners! And about as many were behind me! I had never seen an ultra race with pace corrals before.
Happy runner! See raindrops on glasses for weather clues
Somewhere in the first loop – gorgeous trail!
Towards the end of the first lap. I call this pose Trail Runner Magritte due to the water bottle obfuscating my face. The photographer had a phalanx of folks hanging out with him and cheering / heckling. They decided I definitely lost points for not just sprinting through the water, which I totally agreed with.

River crossed successfully!
I, the Rainbow Goat, did need to stop and take a picture before Goat Hill, a 1/3rd of a mile challenging climb. Appreciate the stuffed animal!
Right before the finish line
Crossing the finish line
Finish line!
Cute finish line snacks! Not mine but I thought it was adorable. The race has a theme of frogs for some reason that I didn’t ever get a full answer to.
At the after-party, someone’s very precocious child kept offering me snacks, which was awesome, although I declined most of them. He finally offered me my absolute favorite snack – chocolate cake donut – so I had to say yes!

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