The San Juan Solstice 50 miler took place last weekend in the quiet mountain town of Lake City. We’ve always loved this hilly course in the northeast San Juan Mountains. One or both of us have run this race for most of the past ten years. It’s become an annual summer kickoff event for us. This year was as nice as ever, it was a beautiful day, the creek crossings were relatively low, and the Divide section
of the course was mostly snow-free.
Christy finished the course in 12:58, which earned her the win in her age group. Yay! I had a good day as well, finishing in 11:03 which was fast enough for 3rd in my category. We both felt we executed well, and even though no PR’s were set, we were happy with our finish times.
The challenge for a lot of racers this year was the heat. The weather is usually really nice for this race, but this year it was hotter than usual. Christy likes it when the temperatures are high, so she felt right at home. But I prefer things cooler, not that it’s ever a choice, and as I ran through the back half of the course there were a lot of nearby racers showing affects of the heat. Being my ninth time on the course, I had been caught off guard by high temperatures before, so I knew enough to take steps to stay ahead of it this time.
Fifty miles is a lot of ground to cover. This course includes three stout climbs totaling nearly 12,000 feet of gain, and hovers at 12-13K in elevation for many miles. On a good day it’s punishing. If the forecast calls for no clouds and high temperatures, it can turn an already hard effort into something pretty unpleasant.
If there’s something to share from years of experience out here it’s that it is never too early to stay ahead in terms of hydration. Race day is almost always sunny and it’s not unusual for the temperatures to run high. If you know that’s the forecast, you don’t need to wait until you find yourself in the hottest part of the day to start reminding yourself to drink some more. In fact if you wait until then you’re probably too late.
If I’m expecting to be running through the middle of a really hot day at any race, I don’t wait until sweat is pouring off my face to get drinking. I start early, in the morning, well before things are even warm. I bring an extra soft flask (or two) and make sure I’m finishing everything I have before I get to the next aid station.
A few hours of proactive hydrating may allow you to cruise through the heat of the day feeling OK, and you might even find you’re moving up in the field, passing all those runners you saw earlier in the day who didn’t plan ahead.
Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Thank you to all the organizers and volunteers that make this race happen each year. It’s a great event.