Cottontail 12 hour race report – running loops in Seattle

From 7am till 7pm last Saturday, Easter Saturday, I took part in the wonderful Cottontail 12 hour race at Carkeek Park in Seattle. There were 3 races – the 12 hour event, a 6 hour morning event and 6 hour afternoon event. The races are hosted by by Endless Trails, a non-profit run by Matt and Kerri. It’s a low-key, small race with a great atmosphere.

 

 

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Matt and Kerri

For the race, there is a 1.93 mile loop with 436 ft of elevation gain and a 0.54 mile loop. Basically, you run as many loops as you can – in any combination of small and large loops -in the time available. Mostly the loops consist of lovely single track – bliss! There are lots of hills and stairs and not much flat.

I noticed that another runner gave the title for this event on his Strava page “12 hours of hill repeats” which was a great description I thought!

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One of the many hills

 

As always I enjoyed meeting new runners. That is one of the things I love about running races in new places. Here’s Mary Ann who I met in the morning. She also has a blog

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Mary Ann

 

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Mary Ann’s cottontail

 

So, I started at 7am and kept going till just before 7pm when the clock stopped and time to run any more loops had run out! I ran strong and loved the event.There was an aid station stocked with lots of great food and drinks. Drop bags were kept there too. Almost every very loop I stopped and grabbed a bite to eat and a drink. I listened to the sounds of the forest and the sounds of people chatting. There were plenty of folks out and about in the lovely park enjoying the Easter weekend. The sounds of the sweet little birds chirping and cheeping kept me company for much of the day. Not so tuneful were the crows with their ear-splitting cries. They caused a hullabaloo now and again through the day. I listened to some motivating songs for a short portion but mostly I just practiced mindfulness, listening to the sounds and watching what was around me. The day flew by.

There is something neat about seeing how many loops you can do. I’d done a 6 hour event before but never a 12 hour. My only strategy was to keep going and I succeeded. I managed to run a lot of it but here’s a pic of me walking and enjoying the gorgeous views over Puget Sound.

 

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Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

 

Here’s another showing a few of the many steps on the course!

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Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

 

I thought one of my loops got missed somewhere along the way in the final results. Counting the bumps on my Strava elevation profile was confirmation. My final total was 25 big loops and 2 small loops so 49.33 miles with a whopping 11,100 feet elevation gain for my day!

Here’s a link to my Strava

https://www.strava.com/activities/527781129/embed/c3f65c5102c3eb5d9ef1f8184163f1bfbd5dc732

 

What I learned

For 100 mile training, I think there are many advantages to using a 12 hour race on a small loop to get in your mileage.

  • The psychological benefit of having an aid station every 2 miles is immense
  • You get to know the course intimately, meaning there are no surprises and you can chill out give your mind a break from wondering what is up next
  • There is less planning involved. You only need one drop bag
  • You can very quickly build up elevation gain with only a small amount of gain on each loop. I did 11,000ft. It sure didn’t feel that much

I also learned that “2 Toms Blister Shield” which I mentioned in a previous post works a treat. I had no hot spots on my feet. This was the first time I used this product and so far highly recommend it. Likewise my Altra Lone Peaks 2.5’s were awesome today.

 

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The end of the day

 

 

 

 

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