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  • Writer's pictureMichael Van Elsberg

Secret Beach Lessons

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

So, Chris and I agreed that the Secret Beach run at Gold Beach, Oregon, would be a "training run" and a "nice day on the beach" if nothing else. We both signed up for the 50-Mile event, which is an out-and-back with about 5000 ft of elevation gain and roughly 16 of the miles on the beach itself, with the balance being on trails and a smaller portion on the highway. It was really hard. We had both underestimated the technical difficulty of it and had no idea that there would be so much in the way of chest-high bramble, roots and cliff edges. In places, it's similar to a terrain race--there's even a rope that has to be used on a descent--not to mention all the miles run on the beach.

I have a bad habit of not eating or drinking as soon as I should, or as often as I should, and paid for it the hard way this time. I had food and water with me, but not nearly enough water, and thought I could wait until the first aid station which wasn't until a little further than 10 miles into the race. It cost me. First, I had no idea it would take me so long to get there. Second, I was in pretty bad shape by the time I did, having waited too long, especially, to hydrate. I had the magic noodles at the aid station and drank as much as I could and felt better but then getting to the second aid station, another ten miles, was even more difficult. I was so slow in getting to the road portion that it was in the direct sun for miles and I got even further dehydrated, barely making it to the second aid station. At that point, I had another five miles to go to make the first cutoff at the 25-mile mark and just couldn't get there in time. The downhills were so difficult to navigate because of the roots and cliff edges that you had to go slow, even there, in order not to get injured. There was also still quite a bit of, well, up.

So I missed the cutoff and had to stop. They are very strict about the cutoffs and pull you for liability reasons, which is completely understandable. So I "only" did 25 miles. It was the hardest 25 miles I have ever run and it was beautiful out there. You have no idea.

Now I better understand the importance of staying ahead of it on the eating and drinking, especially the drinking part. So, from now on I will eat a little and drink a little every mile. And I'm looking forward to a 100 K trail run in Hong Kong in November.

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