What can I say but that it was an awesome day! One week ago, it looked to be only Julie and I running the 30+ mile Wildwood Trail through Forest Park and by the time the run was finished Sunday afternoon, there were 8 of us. Amazing how these things work out and how good people come together. It was in classic East County style too!
I had the idea of running the entire trail this past spring while in Italy, thinking about possible adventures and how to also train for the Leadville 100 miler this coming August. We knew we were making two trips to the Vancouver/Portland area and voile! The entire Wildwood Trail idea was born. What better way to get in a long training run than to run one of our favorite trails, all in one shot, and with friends.
But response was little to none at first until our friend Steve Woodley stepped up and said he wanted to give it a try. He has been getting into shape and really hitting the trails over the past year. He’s planning his first ultra marathon in September and was the first to join the group. We were up to three runners when Julie was forced out by her recurring inner leg pains which we’re scared to admit is probably a stress fracture. So it was back down to two with Julie as crew.
And then the East County avalanche got going. We ran into running friend Riley Eoff while out on the Heritage Trail Friday afternoon with another old running and work friend, Keith. Riley was in town for the week on leave from the Marines and said he was up for giving the run a shot. We then ran into Eric, Alex, and Kat at our friend’s wedding where they informed us that they were all up for at least part of the run. We were now up to 6 runners and one crew.
The plan was to meet at the zoo parking lot at 7:30 am and then all drive to the other end of the trail. Julie was meeting us at miles 5, 20, and 25 along the ~31 mile trail for support both with food and liquids to refuel. Eric and Kat decided on the middle 15 mile section while Riley, Woodley, Alex, and I all started from the beginning together. The trail was muddy but manageable. It was cool and overcast weather; ideal for what we were attempting for the day. I took us out really conservatively and we had a good first hour of conversation and miles to warm up.
After the first aid station, we dropped Riley off for a rest and were joined by Eric and Kat through the longest and possibly toughest section of the run. I carried one handheld bottle with Gatorade to last me the 15 miles. I was fine but by the end was definitely looking forward to refueling. My food of choice was wheat tortillas filled with almond butter and raisins. I’d made a bunch of these the night before and along with Gatorade and water, survived well for the roughly 5 hours we were out there.
After 20 miles Riley rejoined for another 5 while Eric and Kat dropped off. It was at this point that Alex said he was in and going for the whole thing. Up until this point, he’d said he was just going to see how he felt considering he’d run once the prior week and had only run 7 miles total for the week thus far. He hadn’t run further than 9 miles at one time since his 50k this past February. But the pace was modest and he, Woodley, and I all felt very capable of finishing the trail after 20 miles.
After the last aid station at 25, we had the big hill up to Pittock Mansion. The last section had quite a bit of climbing in it which certainly slowed us down, but overall we were strong and kept running the entire time. We separated from Woodley but with about 3 miles to go were met on the trail by another of our running friends, Jonathan Parsons! He escorted us in and then with a quarter mile to go, we were met by Eric and Kat again for the escort to the finish.
It felt awesome to be finished. It was even cooler to see Woodley come sprinting down the hill shortly after Alex and I had finished, all smiles on his face. It was a good day of running and even better day for friendship. Community is one of my favorite aspects of running and today really exemplified that.
Along with the great runners that took part, special thanks and attention goes out to my lovely wife for totally accepting the crewing duties of the day. While she could have moped about or felt sorry for herself due to her injury (all us runners that have been injured know how much it sucks not to be able to run), she instead did all the research, figured out where to go and when, and made the entire thing work out flawlessly for the entire group.
After the run it was on to Montage for a quick couple bowls of mac and cheese before showering up and heading back to Seattle. It was a great day, lots of fun, very motivating, and inspiring for many of us in many ways. Thanks to all that participated; I hope there are many more to come.