Ultra-endurance athlete, outdoor-adventure blogger and social media expert based in San Diego, California.

When I'm not online connecting people to the things they love to do, I'm out training for my next big adventure.

Check out my blog and connect with me on the social web.

San Diego Trail Marathon Race Report

Posted by Unknown Sunday, January 27, 2013

Along with some background info on my training and the Off Road Pursuits Endurance Team, this is my race report from the inaugural San Diego Trail Marathon that I ran on Saturday, January 19th 2013 in the San Dieguito River Park near Lake Hodges in Escondido, CA.

Off Road Pursuits Endurance Team 

Off Road Pursuits race director, Paul Jesse, is a great friend of mine. In the fall of 2012, he asked me to be a member of his Endurance Team along with his wife Carrie and our friends Jess Downer, Dax Ross and Carlyn Peterson. These are all friends who I’ve shared many adventures with, including the first run of the JTree Traverse in May. Skinfit USA also signed on as our official gear sponsor. We all work really well together as a team, and I’m so excited for the adventures we have planned this season.
Post-Jtree Traverse [left to right] Paul, Toby (me), Dax, Jess, Carlyn and Ben Horne (5/26/80 - 7/13/12)

The San Diego Trail Marathon and 50 Mile Ultra Marathon 

With the addition of the San Diego Trail Marathon and 50 Mile Ultra Marathon, local runners can push their limits in their own backyard. This event is one of the more mellow off-road courses you’ll find compared to the mountainous terrain common to the majority of ultra events in San Diego County. Off Road Pursuits even offered course preview talks and runs in the months leading up to the event, so registered participants and friends could familiarize themselves with the course.

From www.offroadpursuits.com

Both races start from the east end of the San Dieguito River Park on Bandy Canyon Rd. off the 78 in Escondido and head west towards Lake Hodges. The 50-mile race starts earlier and keeps going past the lake to Black Mountain and then all the way back. The Trail Marathon turns around earlier [near the marina] and heads back. Both courses climb Raptor Ridge from the back on the way out and the steep front on the return to the finish.

My race day experience was all very positive. I do wish I could have raced the 50-Mile option because it goes through the beautiful Del Dios Gorge trail, crossing over the river bed on bridges and running along the steep cliff sides. I was pretty sick for 9 days straight at the beginning of January, which threw off my training so I opted for the marathon this time around.

Despite being sick, I still managed to fit in a long run of 12 miles, 2 weeks out and 17 miles the weekend before the race. I also kept up with the 30 runs in 30 days program, which I started on 1/1/2013 so the marathon was my nineteenth consecutive day running for a minimum of 30 minutes.

My main goal for this race was to finish with enough in my tank to go on to complete the full 30 runs in 30 days program, which meant I needed to stay within myself and my training and not push as if this was an “A” race.

Race Report 

The start was cold, around 38 degrees, and I wore my Off Road Pursuits Endurance Team Skinfit Aero Shirt with arm warmers, Skinfit running gloves and the Skinfit Vento vest over top. I took off the vest and gloves on the climb up Raptor Ridge. Dax, Corey and Chris were at the first aid station and I just cruised on through carrying everything I needed for the event in my Salomon S-Labs 12 race vest.

Proudly sponsored by Skinfit USA
I ran with an incredibly nice 50-year old woman from PA on the flats through the fields, cruised by the Sunset Dr. aid station that Michelle and Trasie were volunteering at, crossed under the 15 and ran along the lake until the lake turn-around at mile 13.1 in 2 hours even.

Running under highway 15
My secondary goal for this event was to run a negative split on the return portion. So I attempted to run faster than 2 hours on the way back for a sub-4 hour finish. I stayed on pace all the way to the base of Raptor Ridge, passing runners who were walking the flats and downhills. They had obviously gone out way too fast, so I was pleased to see how my patient and conservative approach stacked up against the competition. After the long slog up Raptor Ridge my projected finish and goal was no longer possible. This was about the same time that the temperature hit 80 degrees and the heat became noticeable, so I just tried to hold myself together until the finish.

Great trails along Lake Hodges

I finished in 4 hours, 11 minutes which was good for 18th overall and 4th in my age group. To keep this in perspective, the winner ran 3 hours, 3 minutes. I was most pleased with the way my legs kept turning over the entire day, a direct result of the 30 runs in 30 days program. I did experience noticeable fatigue in my lungs and cardio system from mile 19 on, which I can attribute to the 9 days of severe congestion and coughing earlier this month. All things considered, I’m happy with my performance and really excited to have started 2013 on such a positive note.

Photo courtesy of Paul Hassett
Staying in distance running shape over the holidays is always a challenge, but it’s also one of the optimal times of the year to run trails in SoCal. So if you can manage to stay fit and healthy next year, this is a great race and a quality alternative to the Avalon 50 that takes place on Catalina Island the weekend before or the Carlsbad Marathon that happens the weekend after.

Runners also received a long-sleeve navy blue tech shirt with large logo across the back and a race medal that doubles as a keychain bottle opener. 50-mile finishers took home a commemorative pint glass.

Thanks to Paul, Off Road Pursuits and all the great volunteers who made this such a great event!

Be sure to check back for my next post documenting my experience with 30 runs in 30 days.