Race Report: Rodeo Valley Trail Run
By: Sam LaBrie
I had to be in San Francisco for a conference that went over a weekend and decided to jump into a trail race in the Marin Headlands area. I’ve run the course of the famous Dipsea trail race (http://www.dipsea.org/) and loved the combination of steep climbs, smooth trails, and beautiful views, so I had good reasons to expect a fun morning organized by Inside Trail Racing (http://insidetrail.com/). The race started and finished near the Marin Headlands park center, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
The course for the half marathon included sustained climbs at the beginning and last third of the distance. My plan was to take it easy on the first climb and push the last climb and the last flat section.
I started at an easy pace and was surprised to be trailing only one other runner. We hit the hills and I was passed by a few others over the next 3-4 miles of climbing. The views up there were huge, with the whole SF Bay area and out to the Pacific on display in the bright, clear morning. I was feeling OK with the climbing and power-hiked only one super-steep stretch of about 100 meters. We started the long downhill and I was surprised that it was a wide, smooth dirt road. I let off the brakes and tore down, hitting 6 minute pace for about a mile. I passed one guy and came up on the 3rd and 2nd place runners before we started up again where they gapped me in the next 3 miles of climbing. At the top, we ran through and around some artillery bunkers and I thought about my Grandfather- Frank Tillman. He was stationed in SF during WWII with the Army and may have been on duty at this site.
I tried to push the last few miles, but it was getting warm and I had missed an aid station. My feet were also hurting from the long, fast downhill. The heat, lack of water, and my sore feet prevented me from making up ground on the next runners, but I still finished in 4th overall, second in the 40-49 age group. I filled up at the generous spread at the finish before heading back to SF for my conference (briefly) and then the England-Italy World Cup game along with plenty of beer. A good Saturday, for a business trip…