Monday, September 3, 2012

My Virtual Pine to Palm 100 Preview

Week Summary (9/2/12)


Goni Quarries Loop: 7.0 mi (+1,682 ft); 11:33 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 6.0 mi (+611); 10:17 pace
Hobart Road OB: 7.1 mi (+1,844 ft); 11:56 pace
Geiger + Cougar Flat OB: 11.0 mi (1,851 ft); 11:11 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.6 mi (+492 ft); 9:49 pace

Weekly Totals: 36.7 mi (+6,480 ft); 6:45:25 on trail

August Totals: 176.5 mi (+26,192 ft); 35:50:05 on trail

In August I set a PR for elevation gain, beating out August 2011 by a few hundred feet. Not a surprise really as I was focused on getting some good climbs in, and ended the month and a push to Pine to Palm 100 with a series of 90-minute (up-and-down) hill efforts. I am particularly happy because the downhills are improving with the endurance gains of the uphills. Also, very few echoes remain in the quads or tendons after these efforts; of course, I can feel them but they aren't the kind the bring concerns. Now begins the general taper to our 100-mile effort from Williams to Ashland, Oregon; we'll see how the hills of August match up with the mountains of one day in September.

The focus on P2P began in earnest when I traced the route in Google Earth while plotting aid station locations and crew access points. This exercise provided a virtual feel for the pattern of climbs and descents, roads and trails, and aid station spacing along the course. Most of all, it got me in the mind-set to approach the challenge, if only to aid the delusion of setting a 25-hour goal.

Pine to Palm 100 - Aid Stations with Mileage (Red pins are crew access points); Click on photo for larger image.
My interpretation of the route maps comes to a little more than 93 miles, but I wasn't strict about every switchback and route squiggle and may have missed some curves hidden in the occasional forest canopy. Still Googleland shows +23,000 feet in gain! And it's a good way to check things out.

The day starts with a good climb to a saddle of Grayback Mountain at about 7,000 feet; that should be about 4,500 to 5,000 feet of gain in the first 11 miles or so. Then it's a long drop in some deep canyons to the Applegate River and its reservoir (and back to the 2,000-foot elevation!). We should meet our crew (Desna, Jim Carter, and Henri?) here for the first time, hopefully for an early lunch. Unwound from the first climb, the race begins in earnest here. After Applegate we begin the "rollercoaster," the long ridge of Stein Butte, up-and-down over false-summits as we parallel the California state line. We've heard this can be a bit frustrating, runnable but it takes its toll. Finally, we'll drop in the Squaw Lake where the crew can see us again. Just for fun, we'll do a lap around the lake and visit the crew again. Then we climb through French Gulch to Squaw Peak, another crew stop, and then a ridge run. I'm hoping I like these ridges, the views of Shasta and beyond should be inspiring as evening approaches.

Some ups and downs preview the climb back to 7,500 feet or so at Dutchman Peak; it'll be good and dark now. After practicing at Squaw Peak, we again play capture the flag, as we perform a quick (ha!) out-and-back to the summit. In past years, runners picked up a flag at three summits (Squaw Peak, Dutchman Peak, and Wagner Butte) and returned it to the aid station. Only at Wagner Butte do you have to hold on to the little (I hope) flag for several miles; I have already fretted over losing that precious pennant prior to reach the next aid! Don't do that.

After the Dutchman, it's a long rolling drop to the Wagner Butte Trailhead. Our crew will have their work cut out for them in the sleepy after-midnight hours patiently waiting for our final rendezvous at Long John Saddle. Much of this will be on the Pacific Crest Trail.  In fact, the recent route change incorporating more of the PCT (Long John Saddle to Wagner Butte) removes a descent and climb, but still looks to be a significant challenge because we will be hitting that section in the dark of very early Sunday morning. Wagner Butte looks to be a formidable test. The summit trail passes through pitch-black primeval forests and ends in a rocky summit castle. These may actually be small boulders on a normally pleasant hill, but at Mile 85 it'll be ridiculous 5.11 free-climbing while being chased by trolls. Darren, you go first.

It's all downhill from there, east-facing with a rising sun or, if extremely lucky, maybe just a predawn sky. Or maybe Footfeathers can describe the predawn to us later. Or, both Darren and Footfeathers can tell me about it. Whatever, we're almost done and into Lithia Park in Ashland -- It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves (WS).

So we pre-lived a little of the event here. And my post-virtual run to Emma Quarry on Sunday afternoon was filled with new energy now that portions of the course are planted in my internal compass. Next week I'll throw out a little personal strategy, crew-planning, and a few predictions. Let's rest well.      


  1. Hey! Cool overview. I'm heading back with Darren, so will be around the next two weeks. Let's run.

  2. yay! I am excited for you both/all!!

  3. Hoping for a smoke free run in OR--looks like a wild time! Cheers vc

  4. Me first, eh? Just push me off if you see me sitting there on the heap, delirious (you've seen me in this state before so you'll know what to look for).

    We're ready.


  5. Great post - do you have the file for the course on Google Maps? Doing it this year, would be handy to take a detailed look at something like this.


    1. Hey Juan,

      Thanks. I have a google earth file with part of the route and all the aid stations, plus start and finish. I missed the time cut-off at Mile 65 and Hal pulled me. Fair enough. Super challenging course, I'd love to have another crack at it. Send me an email at

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