2013 Bandit Race Report
by Ben Gaetos
February 17, 2013
It’s a tough course. You’ll love it. That was the only description given by a friend who trains at Rocky Peak Mountain, the site of Bandit 50k Trail Run.
Weather forecast called out a high 74F temperature. At the race check in, temperature was chilly. Jacket or no jacket? That was the question. Eventually, the latter prevailed at the last minute. After the first two miles of the race, my body temperature began to rise. The course began climbing a series of steep switchback single trail. I immediately checked my cheat sheet showing elevation profile. The chart indicated about four continuous steep miles to the top. My friend was right. I better run this race smartly.
The highest point, Rocky Peak is popular for hiking and mountain biking. Top elevation is 2715 feet and offers panoramic view of San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley. The name was derived from its large cragged sandstone boulders. The climb itself is a major test of an individual’s cardiovascular fitness.
It was music to my ears when I heard cowbells indicating aid station at Mile 5.6. A good single trail downhill section followed. It was time to go fishing i.e. reel back some runners. Mercury was starting to boil. I made sure I was hydrating properly before the next aid station at Mile 9. From here on, it was a roller coaster ride of short hills. AC100 champ, Chris Price was on his way back followed by a long train of chasing runners.
By midpoint aid station, runners made their way back. Volunteers who are ultra runners themselves reminded runners to hydrate and take care of their nutrition needs. The next aid station was another five miles. Better load up. Menu included boiled potatoes, salted pretzels, chocolate cookies, chips, bananas and oranges. Runners exchanged encouraging words or hand slaps at out and back sections.
Approaching Mile 20, big climb loomed on the horizon. Rocky Peak, here we go again. Aid station was well timed for refueling. Aside from foods, they had much needed ice to dip my hat. Thank you. The climb was gradual and run-able initially. Some runners took their chance and went. I didn’t and kept my reserved fuel. Happy faces in Hawaiian theme greeted runners at Mile 25 Aid Station. I upped my sugar level with a double dose of soda and chocolate cookie. Pumped up, I’m coming home.
There were still a few climbs but not as strenuous which enabled to pick up weary runners. Running a race is akin to gambling. Take your chance early and hope to have something left at the end or be conservative early and apply reserved energy towards the end. I bet on the latter and began receiving dividends. A quick refill of water at Mile 28 and I was ready for takeoff. But, hold it a second, the final miles to the finish was a downhill free fall. As technical as it could be, Rocky Peak stood by its name, rough, rugged, and jagged. One misstep of eye and foot coordination can mean a bloody fall. Fortunately, I was at my best stride and alerted runners ahead when making a pass.
True to my friend’s description of the race, it’s a tough course and I loved it. Can’t wait for next year. Back to story index page