This is the third and final race in Uberendurancesports’ Naked series, which has to do with the stripped down cost and not the clothing. There are marathon and 50 mile options. It’s almost the identical course to the Naked Bavarian, which I’ve run the past 5 years. If you like candy, you’ll love the course which is laid out as a double lollipop. There’s a 6.5 mile out-and-back section with a loop at the far end that totals twenty miles (Bavarian course). This race adds another out-and-back/loop totaling 5 miles at about mile 14. So twenty miles plus five miles brings you to 25 miles and then you do it all over again to get to fifty miles.
Well, the course runs a little long so really it brings you to 51.26 miles with 5,709 feet of elevation gain according to my Garmin. GPS watches aren’t always the most accurate, but I’d be willing to bet the distance is at least 51 miles giving you an even better value for your money. Even though the aid stations are spaced every 3-5 miles apart, you should definitely plan to carry water/fluids with you as you’ll likely be spending 45-60 minutes between aid stations as you get towards the end of the race.
If you’re likely to be in the back half of the pack, pay very close attention to the cutoffs and keep in mind the course is long. While the race shuts down at 8pm (15:13 pace), the earlier cutoffs require you maintaining a 14:06 pace through the first lap, 14:12 pace through 38 miles, 14:18 through 44 miles and 14:40 through the last aid station. This year the last finisher had a time of 12 hours 14 minutes and given the cutoff times at the aid stations this would be the maximum amount of time you should plan on receiving. The RD offers an early start yet I only saw 7 people taking advantage of it. I would suggest if you have any doubt about running 11 hours, then you should start early so you don’t have to worry about getting pulled from the race.
I met up with a coworker, Ben, about 30 minutes before the 7am start. It was his first 50 mile race and my first one in about 18 months. We started at the back of the pack and there was maybe 10 runners behind us when I glanced back. The first couple hundred yards are on the entrance road before moving onto the trails. There’s a little hill to start things off and while many people were running it, we both quickly switched over to a walk to conserve energy. As we got to the top, I cut inside a couple runners and took off flying down the hill. I was a step and half gone before realizing I never said goodbye to Ben (doh!), but by then it was too late as I was completely focused on not tripping on the technical rail. My legs felt loose and fluid as I blew by people like they were standing still hoping this wasn’t a huge mistake.
The 3 miles to the first aid station are rolling single track and require a bit of focus. This is especially true at the beginning of the race with the runners packed together. I had my earbuds in, however decided to delay turning my tunes on. I typically start listening to music as soon as the race starts, however I felt like waiting a bit on Saturday. Five miles turned into ten eventually turned into the entire first loop. I was chatting with quite a few runners and it never seemed like a good time.
The course is virtually identical to the Naked Bavarian so I know it well. The only difference is that extra five mile section and I kept waiting for it to arrive. I was past the second aid station and saw a couple runners going the opposite direction. This really started messing with my mind and I was wondering if I was going the right way. But there were still plenty of runners ahead and behind me so if I was lost then a lot of others were, too. The course is always incredibly well marked so I was never too concerned about being off course.
There are 3 aid stations along the course with the first two visited multiple times per loop. The new section of trail finally arrived after mile 14 as I completed the big loop. Instead of heading back to the start/finish, you turn right and head across the bridge and up the road for the second time, this time on the left side of the road. You then turn left onto what turned out to be my favorite section of the course though it was probably a bit more challenging than the rest of the course overall.
As I was leaving the second aid station heading back to the start, I realized I had forgotten to grab salt caps. It was getting hot out and I knew I needed to stay on top of my electrolytes or pay the price later. I quickly turned around and retraced the 15 feet back to the aid station and grabbed several. I always try and be as efficient (read: fast) as possible and while this helps me save valuable time, the downside is I occasionally forget things.
I rolled into the start/finish just before the five hour mark feeling good. I reloaded my pack quickly and was back onto the trail within a minute or so. The next 10 miles kinda went by in a blur as I moved from one section of the course to the next. That’s typically how I know I’m doing well when time and distance don’t seem to register on my consciousness.
When I got to the third aid station, they asked if I wanted ice in my bottle and it sounded wonderful. And while I eyed the beer for a second, I decided to pass on it this time. The section after this is very flat, however it’s mostly exposed to the sun and it was starting to take its toll on me. My paced slowed from mid-10s on lap 1 to 12 minutes and the effort went from easy to are you kidding me? Thankfully I remembered a slogan I use for 100s (survive the day) and decided to dial back the effort a bit. I walked a bit sooner than I had been and just tried to take it easy.
At mile 41, I almost screwed up my race. People think of these races as strictly running endeavors, but so much of your success in them is tied to something as simple as eating and drinking. You will eventually get to a point where you don’t want to eat anything. This is usually about the time when you desperately need calories. Well, I had been a rock star with my nutrition and fluid intake up till this point. I had been downing a gel every 3 miles with an Ensure Plus shake (350 calories!) at miles 12 and 35 and supplementing with gummy bears and bacon at the aid stations.
And then amazingly I was feeling great. It must have been the salt capsule I had a couple miles back. Or more likely, the temperatures had starting to drop. The miles ticked by and I was running entirely on my own at this point. I passed a couple people who were walking the marathon in the past 6 miles and offered what encouragement I could. On the last hill, I thought I saw another one ahead of me until she started running. My competitive instincts almost kicked in, however she was way up there (bother) and the last person I want to be is the guy who chases down and passes a female runner in the final quarter mile of a race. So I cruised in for a final time of 10 hours 13 minutes or just under a 12 minute pace. I couldn’t have been happier with my race as the time was really good for me and I had a good time getting it. Overall, this is a great race at a great price and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a spring 50 miler.