Posted by: pointlenana | May 21, 2015

Sun Mountain 50M – May 16, 2015: “Cruel but beautiful!”

Last Saturday, Janet and I ran Rainshadow Running’s 50M race at Sun Mountain.  It was Janet’s first 50M race.  She’s done a few 50ks.  I ran with her, which was really fun.

This is going to be short, because…  I made a movie of our day.  I probably had the GoPro on my head for 9 hours during the day, and had a lump on my forehead afterward to prove it.  Hopefully it captures the incredible beauty of the course, especially the wildflowers.

You cover a lot of ground in 50 miles.

You cover a lot of ground in 50 miles.

This race takes place in the Methow Valley, just east of North Cascades National Park.  As the movie shows, the wildflowers were in full bloom and the weather was great.  Janet’s goal in the race was simply to finish, but she also hoped to come in under 12 hours.  I thought she’d do better, and for the first 2/3’s of the race we were on track for about 10:30.  She’s had some cramping trouble in her legs in previous races, and about halfway through her legs started hinting at that again.  Around mile 37 she took a fairly hard fall running downhill after catching her foot on a root disguised in the mottled sunlight.  The trail was soft so she came away with only minor scrapes, but when she hit the cramps came on and slowed her a lot for a while.  Shortly after, we had to do a steep climb (somewhat ironically up to the hotel where we were staying) – it was hot and she felt lightheaded.  As we walked within 100 yards of our hotel room, I was a little worried that she was having her low moment at the wrong time.  But, there was a bonus water station there with a tap.  She washed herself off, got the dirt off her water bottle, and committed herself by heading back downhill.

Early in the race.

Early in the race.


James Varner, who runs Rainshadow and creates all the courses, is known for creating challenging courses.  With only 7500 of climbing and trails that aren’t too technical, this is one of his easier races.  But it finishes with a climb up Patterson Mountain.  Janet was doing her best with her cramping legs, but watching her real-time (and in the video) was hard.  I wanted to help in some way but it was really up to her at that point.  One thing we both noticed is that, although we weren’t passing anyone, no one was passing us either.  By then everyone was beat.  We trudged and trudged and trudged, cheering on runners coming down again past us, and eventually made it up to the water cistern at the top.  Then we turned around and stumbled down as best we could.  Janet recovered some, and on the way to the finish we ended up passing several people who had been 10-15 minutes ahead of us near the mountain top.  Finish time was 10:53:35.  Plus we were still speaking at the end.  At the finish Janet told James, “That was cruel but beautiful.”  James answered, “That’s what I aim for”.

Grinning and bearing it.

Grinning and bearing it.

Just grinning.

Just grinning.

The next day we volunteered doing finish timing for the 25k race.  It was great hanging out with some of the faster runners from the 50M who were also volunteering, cheering a few friends in, and seeing a bunch of the volunteers from our race also finish.  A very fun weekend spent with friends in a gorgeous place.  Thank you to the folks at Rainshadow Running, and especially to all the volunteers who were out there helping us.  And thanks to Glenn Tachiyama for taking photos, so I have something to look at other than the movie and the lump on my forehead.


  1. Wow – I’m glad I get to see the beautiful part instead of the cruel part…. Way to go, Janet!

    • Your sister is tough. And that stile she had to climb over – and that whole climb period – was the cruel part.

  2. Sunshiny! And putting a mountain near the end is just mean.

    • Thanks Ilana – but as you heard, cruel/mean is what James shoots for.

  3. How many times did you have to change your GoPro battery? I love carrying a GoPro for a race. It’s so small and compact, and fits perfectly in my running pouch. I couldn’t imagine wearing it for 10hrs though!

    • I only ran the camera for about 90 minutes, so no battery changes. I put it in my vest pouch some but it was easier to leave it on my head and turn on/off when something seemed interesting. Or maybe it caused some brain damage early on and leaving it on seemed easier.

  4. I loved your recap and video so much! I ran the 50k that day and watching your video put me right back on those mountains. Might watch it about a million more times 🙂 Even saw some familiar faces that you caught on film!

    • I’m glad you liked it. I admit to losing too much time rewatching the run myself. Congrats on your 50k finish!

    • Hi Sybil – sorry for the long delay in responding. I like the few videos I’ve done for the same reason – I see things I didn’t see during the race. E.g. that video caught Gunhild, and then I watched her amazing finish at Western States. See you out there!

  5. Nice RR! Cruel and beautiful is a great title – kind of says it all.

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