Way Too Cool 50K: Sufferfest But Still A PR

Way Too Cool 50K was to be a test of my fitness in the early stages of my 2015 training. I still feel way off from where I was near the end of 2014, but there’s still plenty of training left to be done and adjustments to be made for improvement. My race started off smooth and fast, but turned into a struggle to finish in the later stages of the event. A huge thank you to Lauri Abrahamsen for making my trip and experience top notch and to the RUN365 group for assisting me in my race. Also, tremendous thanks to Trail Racing Over Texas, all of the Team’s Sponsors (including Altra, Victory Sport Design, and Feetures) and Tailwind for their support.


The gun went off at 8AM as the field of 1,200 runners took off onto the trails of Cool, CA. I had positioned myself in the back of the second row of runners, knowing the race was going to be taken out hard and that I wasn’t going to be up at the front. This was a good decision as the first pack crushed the first mile in around 5:20 and I came through in 25th or so place in 5:56, still 30 seconds faster than I had planned on, sucked in by the excitement, but still put myself in a good spot going into the single track trails for the first 8 Mile loop. In this loop, I ran behind Victor Ballesteros for the first 5 miles before passing to run ahead (I should have stuck behind him and took my cue from his experience and strategy). I ended up finishing that first 8 mile section much too quick in just under 53 Minutes right along side Megan Roche (eventual female winner in 3:41).

Race Start Photo: NorCalUltras

I ran through the Aid Station at Mile 8, one of the RUN365 members took my empty Tailwind bottle, handed me my fuel belt along with another bottle filled with Tailwind, and I was off without having to stop. I continued to run behind Megan and another group of runners until we began the 1000 foot descent from Mile 9 to 11 and I stepped off the gas hoping that it would pay dividends later on in the race and save my quads. Once I hit the bottom I kept running strong, at this point I was all by myself, until I came upon the Mile 16.7 Maine Bar Aid Station. I made a quick pitstop here to dump my next round of Tailwind into my bottle, have it filled with water and have the volunteers pour water on my back before departing as the heat was starting to creep up, approaching 70 Degrees.

I kept moving, until I hit Mile 18 where I could feel things start to take a turn for the worse with the first real climbs over the next 2 Miles to Mile 20. I took my first walking breaks on the steep sections and ran when I could. This section was the first time where I was being caught and passed by other runners. I hit the Mile 21.1 Aid Station (Auburn Lake Trails) and ran straight through telling myself I would try to push to Mile 26 where the Goat Hill Climb began. I did my best in this section but my quads, hamstrings and calves were all shot and starting to cramp. Runner after runner passed by, even when I was running, this was a little discouraging, but I continued to give it my all. I hit Goat Hill and hiked up the majority to the Aid Station at the summit (Mile 26.4). From here I knew it was a gradual downhill until Mile 29 before the final climb of the day. I had to take the downhill extremely slow, feeling the impact in my quads with every strike. It was hard to accept that I was running this slow on a section that I would normally crush without hesitation.

Way Too Cool 50K Course Shot                                   Photo: Facchino Photography

I finally made it to the last Aid Station at Mile 29.8 and soon after departing saw Karl Hoagland (Publisher of UltraRunning Magazine) with one mile to go. Seeing a familiar face gave me a boost of energy. I pushed with everything I had up the final incline and ran into the finish, crossing in a time of 4:03:31, good for 37th place on a day where I fell apart 18 Miles into the race. I had missed my A goal time of 3:50, my goal of top 25 and my B goal time of sub 4 hours, but slowly accepted that with the day that I had experienced I should be proud of how I competed. Even though I missed all the marks I wanted, I still set a Trail 50K PR by 8 Minutes. I will take away the feeling of the pain and suffering I experienced through the race and apply it to my future races, only improving my mental and physical toughness.

Congratulations to everyone who ran Way Too Cool 50K, from first place Patrick Smyth in 3:04 to the last place finishers. Next up for me is the Zion 100K on April 10th. I’m expecting a better result and to run a smarter race. It will be my first venture above 50 Miles and I couldn’t be more excited.



4 Bottles of Tailwind (250 Calories Each)

3 Clif Shot Energy Gels

4 CarboPro Metasalt Tablets

Strava Data

Next up: Zion 100K


4 thoughts on “Way Too Cool 50K: Sufferfest But Still A PR

  1. Nice job – I’d love to make it out for Cool sometime. I’ve heard nothing but good things.

    3:04 is such a ridiculous time – I can’t wait to see what else Pat has up his sleeve this year!


    1. Thanks Jason. I completely fell apart at 18. I’m positive I could have finished in the low 3:40’s. I live in Dallas and I get about 2-3K elevation gain over my 80-100 mile weeks so i’ve now started treadmill hiking at 15%. Hoping that pays off in the future. Good luck in your races this year!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good plan – you have to work in vertical any way you can!

        It can be tricky at those fast races like Cool. You can end up starting a lot quicker than you plan on and it can throw off your entire race.


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