- No aid stations for the first and last 14 miles, which forced everyone to carry lots of water or risk running out of water on a fairly hot day (or, in my case, both!)
- The course does not play to my strengths, with screaming downhills (my favorite) on the way out and butt-kicking uphills on the way back. It would have been perfect to start at the river crossing instead and run the course in reverse.
View from the Trail (Photo Courtesy of Austin Violette)
The race started promptly at 8 a.m. and we raced down some of the steep downhills, perhaps going out a little too fast, but it was hard to slow down. The course follows the WS100 trail all the way down (roughly 2500') to the Ruck-a-Chuck river crossing and I remembered some of the sections from pacing Dave Yeakel jr. on this same course last year. It was not all downhill in one go though -- there were still plenty of uphill sections!
Elevation Profile of the Rucky Chucky 50K Race
Until just before the race started I was not sure if I should take two big hand bottles or my CamelBak. In the end, I opted for the latter, but the danger of using the CamelBak is that you put too much water (read: weight) in it. Also, it is very hard to tell how much water you have left. It took me about two hours to reach the first aid station (13.9 miles) and I still had water left in my pack. Norm Klein and Tom Wrobelowski kindly filled up my pack for the return trip and I left it there so I could run to Ruck-a-Chuck and back without my pack. I reached the turnaround in 2:15.
Austin Violette at the Turn Around Point (Photo Courtesy of Austin Violette)
As soon as I strapped my CamelBak back on and started running up the hills, I started feeling a bit sluggish. Time to refuel. I thought that I might have brought too much water, so I started splashing some of it on my face and neck in order to cool down. Although the race site says it was only 67 degrees, it sure felt a lot hotter, especially on the more exposed sections of the trail.
Some parts of the trail were so steep that it was more efficient to just walk, making it a long and slow climb back to the start as well as a great training experience for the hotter weather that is coming up. At a certain point I felt like my water supply was shrinking and I stopped pouring it over my head to make sure I would not run out. Unfortunately, at mile 28, I heard the dreaded bubbly sound that accompanies the last few sips of water in the CamelBak. Turning the backpack sideways helped a little bit, but at mile 29 I was completely out of water. Fortunately there were only about 2.5 miles to go.
I finished in 16th place overall in 5:45, a little slower than I had hoped for, but given the conditions I was happy with it. The post-race buffet, prepared by Linda Mathis was excellent and I talked to many of the other runners for a while, before finally heading back home where a great stack of pancakes was waiting for dinner!
Jack Driver on the Home Stretch
As for the new shoes, I really enjoyed them. Here is my summary:
Summary of the Rucky Chucky Trailrunning Shoe Experience:
- Fit: Excellent. The shoe fit me very well (slightly bigger than "normal" size 13s) and feels very smooth. It has good breathability. The shoe features an ergonomically-designed footbed that looks a bit weird at first but really does not bother your feet.
- Toughness: Very Good. The bottom of the shoe is very well protected with new "snake-plate" technology.
- Flexibility: Excellent. The Rucky Chuckies are very flexible, unlike some of the other TNF running shoes.
- Side-to-side Stability: Very Good. The shoes felt extremely comfortable and allowed me to move over tough terrain effortlessly.
- Grip: Very good. Not super aggressive, but plenty to get the job done, especially on rocky terrain.
- Switchback Handling: Very Good. I had to stop and tighten the shoes very tight to handle some of the extreme downhills (so my toes would not hit the front of the shoes) and without an integrated lacing system this restricted my feet a little bit.
- Weight: Excellent. This is the shoes' best feature! They are really very light for a trail running shoe. I almost did not feel any difference with my road shoes. I found some of the other TNF shoes on the heavy side.
- Price: OK. At $120, it was a good thing there was no sales tax in Oregon!
- Overall: This is a great and surprisingly light shoe for almost all trail conditions and can even be used on the road if needed.