Live Coverage of the 2012 Chuckanut 50k

Chuckanut 50kThe Chuckanut 50k kicks off at 8 am Pacific Daylight Time on Saturday, March 17. I’ll be there livecasting the event on iRunFar’s Twitter feed, but also wanted to pull a number of useful feeds together as well as open up a discussion about the race here on iRunFar. Tell you friends. Leave a comment. Enjoy.

Here are a couple resources to help you follow the race:

There are 23 comments

  1. Upset

    Absolutely disappointing race. These RD need to get serious or the talent that these races have been attracting will stop attending. Think about the time and money invested by the likes of a Max King or Michael Wardian when they are led off course due to poor course markings.

    The excuse of, "it's part of trail running" is no longer valid. This is not orienteering. This is a race and all efforts should be make to keep athletes on-track and not at saving costs and expenses.

    Complete joke that this continues to happen. And we wonder why our sport is not more widely appreciated.

    1. Tom

      Marking a long trail race is not as straightforward as it may appear. I'd bet the fact the leaders got off course had nothing to do with saving costs. It's about marking 30 miles (emphasize 30 miles) of public trail which looks like had snow in between the marking and the race. You can't mark a public trail too far in advance or people/animals will remove/eat markings. Runners often take illogical mind boggling turns (not saying these guys did).

      Mistakes are made are made by course markers and by runners, more often than not it's the runners (in general, not saying it was the leaders fault in this case).

      1. Scott

        Sounds to me like poor marking. Michael Wardian runs a few races every now and then from what I've heard and I'm sure he is familiar with properly following …properly placed… markers along a trail.

        I am sure glad the excuse that it's difficult to mark 50k worth of trails doesn't deter the RD's of 75,100,150+,Adventure races,etc from holding their events because they don't want to take the time to mark THEIR course. Also runners who have been pushing themselves to the limit for hours on end might not be the clearest thinkers- Which RD's should understand and take measures to reduce possible mistakes. My 2

    2. Meghan


      It's, in my opinion, poor form for you to harp on this race's directors, race directors in general, and the sport as a whole reference course markings.

      Read the Chuckanut RDs' instructions on the course markings and successful navigation here,…. It reads, "We do our best to mark the course plainly, but in this area trail markings have been removed in less than one day. This description and the map should allow you to stay on course even if many of the markings are gone. Please carry and use it! Familiarity with the course is highly recommended prior to race day."

      I've seen it all out on courses, from very light course markings to runners missing plain-as-day-pretty-much-neon-sign markings. Yes, sometimes course-marking mistakes are made (You and I weren't out there today, so it's not our situation to judge.), but in the end, it is our responsibility as runners to get ourselves from the start to the finish of the races we enter, and to have the proper abilities/tools to do so. Ability includes the skill to not slip and break our necks on technical terrain, to not get gobbled up by a river crossing, to make our way successfully through every intersection, to have the right amount of food and water for the outing, to have and use the proper clothing, and more. As long as there are ultramarathons, there will a passel of variables that we ultrarunners must successfully manage to finish and have success at races.


  2. Dvroes

    These negative remarks always seem to come from someone with no name. I didn't hear Michael blame anyone at UROC or Geoff at RRR and I don't expect Max to blame anyone. It happens.

  3. Josh

    I ran the race today and I couldn't believe on how well it was marked. Good runner or not you would have to be blind to not know where to go. Great race!

    1. Adam Hewey

      When I got to the turn in question, a course worker was uncovering a neon orange arrow which had been snowed under. The course was marked on Friday, the snow hit Saturday morning. Unfortunate but not to be classified as poor marking or bad RDing. Don't sprain ankles jumping to conclusions "upset".

  4. Doug McKeever

    Dear Upset:

    I wrote those words more than a decade ago that Meghan quotes from the current race info: “We do our best to mark the course plainly, but in this area trail markings have been removed in less than one day. This description and the map should allow you to stay on course even if many of the markings are gone. Please carry and use it! Familiarity with the course is highly recommended prior to race day."

    It is still true today, more than a decade later. In 2002, the last year I co-directed the race, I was out until 1 a.m the morning of the race knocking snow off overhanging branches on the trails, repositioning course markings that had fallen over due to new fallen snow. That day, the men's course record was broken anyway despite the snow and tough conditions.

    This year, we actually marked the course on Thursday, with some additional marking on Friday. The snow hit on early Saturday morning. We volunteers all did our very best to do what we could to let runners stay on course, and it was unfortunate that the first runner to the critical turn didn't cut sharply left as the race directions clearly indicate. It can be tough being out front and not knowing the course and having new snow, I guess.

    Sure, the field was the most competitive in a 50 km in the U.S., but this isn't a track race and every runner needs to know and study the course. Please, until you have walked in our shoes, Mr. or Ms. Upset, cut us some slack.

  5. Gunter

    Any race that is goes for a 1000 athlete field (and the amount of $$$ that generates) should have no excuses for … anything. No slack.

  6. Upset

    Why would a RD be using signs instead of ribbons? Completely unprofessional, and yes, the athletes complain. Pull aside Mike or Max and you'll hear it from the horse's mouth. Even Geoff Roes got led off course last year and complained on his blog.

    And listen, it is not the athlete's responsibility to know the course. That is an excuse we as a trail/ultra community have been relying on far too long. The RD should mark the course properly because he/she is hosting a RACE. Not Orienteering, a RACE. Does a road runner need to know the road course? No, it is one less worry.

    I apologize, but I will not change my mind, as I ensured my races were properly marked, and this is from a runner than has been sent the wrong way by volunteers in the past and just deals with it. What I am saying is that we are growing so much that we should no longer have this excuse. Get out there and mark the course after it snows.

    1. Gunter

      Upset says: Get out there and mark the course after it snows.

      And/or have a rock solid plan for if it is snowing.

      1000 x whatever they were charging could certainly hire a bad ass mountain biker to ride up front with some sort of marking to set the track …

      Excuses are for Fat Ass races and amateurs.

  7. Josh

    Gunter and the upset clan you don't know what you are talking about. It is everyone's job to know the course. There were volunteers at that turn and it is ovbious that you turn left after the gate, if you even read the course description you would have known that and their was bright surveyors tape the whole course. I was shocked to hear that someone got lost when I finished, it was so easy to follow the ribbons, markers and volunteers.

  8. Eduardo

    When I ran the race, Scott Jurek was at that intersection pointing us the way down. My question is what side of the road were the blue wave runners on Cleator coming up???

  9. Eduardo

    Josh you are assuming the volunteers were there when they were. How silly to think that volunteers watched runners going down hill without doing something. Now who does not know what they are talking about?

  10. Aleksi

    If everyone is supposed to 'know the course' then why mark it at all? Part of what I pay for when I go to race is for the markings. I havce no interest nor capability to 'know the course'. What am I supposed to do, come to a race site 2 weeks early and study every deer trail, side trail, bike trail, side road, parking area? I expect that the course is to be so clearly marked that all I need to do is show up fit and ready to run.

    I get very tired of paying much money and not getting the basics. Keep the t-shirt; mark the course crazy good.

    I have seen many times where volunteers were clueless. They stand there looking at you and have not a clue where we must go or how far.

    I dont know about this race, but the primary responsibility of a race director is to ensure their is an absolutely clearly marked and accurately measured race course. Otherwise it is more a crap shoot than a real test of who's strongest and fastest.

      1. Bryon Powell

        I didn't say blizzard or even snow storm is I? I live in Park City, Utah where it snows … a hit more. Still, noting the fact that there was snow on the ground is relevant in that (1) folks wouldn't expect any snow on the Chuckanut course and (2) even a few inches of snow will slow things down a bit.

        1. Doug McKeever

          It is interesting that some who are critical in their comments here apparently know nothing about this particular course, this race, the local weather tendencies, or much about the logistics of putting on a major trail race when dealing with state agencies who have restrictions on things and have gates on roads. I'm speaking to you, Aleksi, Gunter and Eduardo,

          This is the first time this event had snow falling DURING it in its 20th running, and only the second time there was significant snow ON the course but not falling as it was being run (the other year was 2002 and I have already addressed that). Interestingly enough, in both years a course record was set by those who knew the course…in 2002 it was by Uli Steidl, who had not run the race before, and this year by Ellie who knew the course.

          Listen up, Aleksi. You admit you don't know about this race, so let me clue you in. I will forgive your insult because we around here know all about snow. I know a thing or two about this subject…I have taught college meteorology for 41 years. In 1998-99, our local ski area, Mt. Baker, set the official world record for snowfall in a season….93 feet total. And just this past week, there was 10 feet of new snow at the ski area in six days…but to get snow at low elevations at nearly sea level is very rare,so the fact we have had record snow 45 miles away and 4000 feet higher is irrelevant. The point is that in this location with a course for which nearly all of it isn't quickly and easily accessible, given gates on roads, no one can readily get out there in the unlikely event of snowfall.

          For those who say "Get out there and mark the course after it snows" , such as (still) UPSET or Gunter, who says "Excuses are for Fat Ass races and amateurs". don't you DARE call these race directors amateur!…. YOU get up here and personally get the personnel of Larrabee State Park to open the lower gate for you at sunrise so you can drive up at 2 am or so, since there is NO WAY the gate will be opened, or else WALK up there to the upper gate where the lead runners' went off course,, to stand there in the unexpected falling snow and direct the lead runners the proper way.

          Next year it is probable that a monitor will stand there and direct any runners who don't know the course where they should go. At my position at the base of Dan's Traverse at the north end of the Chuckanut Ridge Trail… another place where runners need to know which way to go and where even with three of us RIGHT THERE, paying attention to EVERY runner, and with markings all around, some runners, INCLUDING several of the lead runners!!!!…. had to ask "WHICH WAY do we go?"

          For this race, the main permitting agency, Larrabee State Park, won't let us use any kind of ground marking, although the place coming off the top of Chinscraper into the Cyrus Gates Overlook had some clandestine orange spray painted arrows on the snow (but not on the bare ground). I personally hope that in future years there will be both human monitors and unmistakable arrows at that key turn, as we have had in other years but not this year. Even then…human monitors may not be able to get there in time unless they camp out all night, above gates and illegal in an area of NO CAMPING, and the arrows placed the day before and with notes attached asking PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE COURSE MARKINGS may STILL be vandalized….bottom line….runners must know the course in trail runs…even, or maybe especially…the elite runners.

  11. Scott Keeps Running

    I'm empathetic to both sides of the issue.

    From a fan's perspective, it's very disappointing to see missed turns – or inadequately marked turns – factor into the front of the pack results. We want to see the fastest runner on any particular day win the race. If it's a potentially tricky turn – especially in a high-profile race – then double mark it, triple mark it, block off the wrong trail if possible, have a volunteer standing there with fireworks, or redirect the sun's glowing beams down the correct path if you have to. Just don't ever let the lead runners run down the wrong rabbit hole. (And this could be even more potentially dangerous for back-of-the-packers who may wander several miles off course.)

    From an organizer's perspective, I recognize that no matter how clearly marked you think it might be, and no matter how many thousands of people you may have on the sidelines cheering the lead runner on toward an obvious direction, sometimes a runner will just zone out and go the wrong way (video of lead runner making a wrong turn at 1994 NYC marathon: I also recognize that trail races have other specific difficulties to worry about, like vandalism, or someone thinking they were being a good samaritan by "picking up litter" they didn't know was a course marking (this happened at a small race I organized last year), or restrictions from park agencies about how much marking you can actually use, or mountain weather, etc.

    1. lime42

      Wow! The real "amateurs" are those of you complaining who have NO IDEA what this course entails and what turn was MISSED. When I finished the race I was bummed to hear that the lead pack had missed a turn and headed too far down Cleater Rd. I had a feeling that something was amiss when I saw Max running up to the turn as I was taking a downhill left onto it, and felt poorly for him and the others who missed it.

      However, let's get the facts straight: no one was "led off" course Upset, they unfortunately ran themselves "off" course. The turn was clearly marked w/ several brightly colored ribbons Aleski, as was foretold and consistent w/ the rest of the route. Furthermore, from the top of Cleater Rd. to the turn onto Cleater Rd. from 2-dollar bill trail (aide station #2), there is ONLY ONE LEFT turn, as clear as day w/ a nice big gate right next to it. Any reading of the course description or one look at the course map should have been sufficient in knowing where this turn was. I guarantee, ask all of Saturdays and past years runners about this turn and 99.9% would say it's as clear as day, even on a snowy one.

      Unfortunately, that .1% was yesterdays leaders, so those of you who wanted to see a course record will have to wait till next year. And don't worry, the race and the RD(s) were and have benn amazing so the Elites will keep on coming back, and in even larger numbers.

      1. Doug McKeever

        Thank you, lime42. I didn't get much sleep last night because I was so upset about this mishap, which was preventable on several levels. I created this course along with my former co-director Richard West, and although I didn't mark the course this year for the first time ever(only putting out all my dumb signs to cheer runners up), I know that if the turn had been marked with direction arrows instead of the little wire wands that are not as obvious, perhaps the leaders wouldn't have gone off course. I take some blame for the whole thing because it was my idea to use the wands, but I had assumed there would also be a course monitor at the critical turn. However, the lightning-fast runners must have gotten there first. Live and learn all around. All in all, what a great day it was out there!

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