Date of Race: 12 Aug 2017
With the Tahoe 200 in September (of 2017), and no big 100 mile events on my calendar for the year, I knew I needed something to get me moving and ready for my run around the lake. I signed up for the Cool Moon 100 Mile event late in the season, with spots luckily still available. My friend May was supposed to be out there that weekend as well, so it would be nice to see a familiar face on the trail.
I drove up the morning of, feeling excited and ready for the day to come. The race is a figure-8 loop course, with the first loop coming in at 13.5 miles and the second at 11.5. There is plenty of parking at the center/start/finish, making self crewing and drop bag planning very easy. Altitude isn’t a concern, but the elevation adds up. Heat is the real demon of the course, though. Cool, CA, in August is extremely hot and sunny. Temperatures are almost guaranteed to get over 100 during the day, so hydration and pacing are essential.
I took on my first lap with relative ease, enjoying the views and single track before the heat set in.
The course is a nice mix of big climbs, smooth single track, open fire roads, and wooded trails. There’s plenty of sun, shade, and variation to keep the mind stimulated and the feet moving.
Unfortunately the second lap proved to be the killer. As I rounded out my second lap (40 miles), I felt like hell.
I took a reprieve and tacked on another 13.5 mile loop as dusk fell, my pace falling with it. The heat of the day was catching up. I spent more and more time at the aid stations, enjoying the conversation and getting re-hydrated.
The final few miles into the aid station were in the dark, and from what I heard there were mountain lions out that evening, in very close proximity to when and where I went through.
I made it back to base camp and wandered over to my car. I climb inside for a short nap and to regain my composure. I was tired, I missed the wife and kids, and had taken a good beating from the heat of the day.
I wasn’t necessarily sick, or excessively fatigued, but lost the fire. Sure, I was pretty beat from the day but my heart and head just weren’t in the race any more. I set my alarm for an hour, and closed my eyes.
I woke up as the sun was rising – some 5 hours or so after I laid down. The hopes of finishing the 100 mile event were now out the window, as cutoff times prevented me from finishing the last 5o-ish miles.
I could, however, finish out the 100k portion by tacking on one more 11.5 mile loop on.
I wandered over for breakfast, grabbed some pancakes, hot coffee, and set off on my way. I came in a few hours later to claim my 100k finishers hat, coaster, and high-fives. It wasn’t the finish I wanted, but I was happy to have gotten the miles in.
Even with my “I didn’t finish the race I wanted to” pouting, the staff and volunteers kept telling me that what I did was still a feat to be proud of, and that I should be proud of what I had accomplished.
The course is well marked, with plenty of aid and water. It’s got a very reasonable entry fee, finisher’s swag, generous cut-off times, and a LOT of heart.
It may not command the same ‘destination race’ attention as some of the other big northern California races, but don’t let that deter you – it is a wonderful event to spend some hot miles in the California sun before enjoying the evening under a Cool Moon.
Many thanks to the wonderful staff, volunteers, and sponsors of this charming, challenging, and cool course!
– The Winged Ling