2010 Spooners Cove Race Report
by Ben Gaetos
Spooner’s Cove 50k Race Report
Montana de Oro State Park, CA
“You’re in first place and actually winning the race”, said my volunteer friend, Catra as I completed the first loop. Surprisingly, it was true.
Rain forecast scared off potential runners as rain poured all night. One must be certified insane to even think of running in wet conditions. My running resume includes qualifying races such as Chimera, Catalina and LA Marathon. Most runners safely opted for 25k or less. Runners I met on race day felt sorry for me to run 2 loops. Unknown to them was that I’ll be enjoying the gorgeous scenery twice as Mother Nature granted perfect race weather.
The first 3 miles traversed through a winding dirt trail along the bluff with views of the rugged cliffs and sandy beaches of the cove. Flock of sea gulls stayed atop rocks to view giant waves in musical fashion. The pack of runners was still intact and in jovial mood.
Thereafter, it was time for serious running as the course proceeded to a short mild climb and downhill single trail. A sweeping turn led runners to face the beast, Valencia Peak.
Runners quietly navigated a steep single trail mostly of sedimentary rocks. A fall on those sharply angled saw tooth surface can tattoo a permanent battle scar. What waited at the summit was the prize of magnificent 360 degree view of the coast and the Morro Rock landmark. The course then continued downhill through layered rocks and tall overgrown bushes on occasional muddy surface heading to the staging area at Mile 7.
The second beast awaited runners. This time, Hazard Peak was more of a haven for mountain bikers. It was not as punishing as Valencia Peak but nevertheless a serious climb with an endless view of the surrounding valley. I passed a couple of runners and maintained within reach of another for directions. I can’t be too anxious as I needed energy for the second loop when the real excitement unfolded.
While hydrating at halfway mark, the Race Director and Catra informed me that only 2 runners showed up for the 50k. I felt embarrassed and thrilled at the same time. No question, it was an official race. Last time I’ve been this close was a 3rd place overall finish in a 5k in 1995. This was an opportunity of a lifetime. I didn’t want it to slip away. Thus, I prepared myself for battle. No more taking pictures as I felt being hunted by a predator.
Midway of the short climb, I looked back to check my competition. Someone was moving at a steady pace along giant bushes about 200 yards away. Without hesitation, I set my strategy to get to Valencia Peak asap. My downhill skill will take care of the rest. As I turned around the summit, there were no visible individuals other than hikers I passed. Smell of victory was in hand. As I reached the staging area now M23, I was informed that the other runner DNF’d. All I had to do was to finish in one piece.
Again, I felt embarrassed but who knew that Mother Nature would play a major part. My friend and I braved 3.5 hrs of driving from Los Angeles on race day under scattered rain. A division place in his division was also very rewarding.
Hey, snails can win races too. Cheers!! Back to story index page