Posted by: pointlenana | March 20, 2017

Chuckanut Japandroids 3/18/17

Yesterday started at 4:20am and finished around 12:30am Sunday morning.

I got up early, got ready and headed up to Bellingham for the 25th anniversary of the Chuckanut 50k.  I didn’t really have expectations or high hopes for my race, but that was true last year also and I ended up finishing (last year) in 5:24 which was good for 3rd place in my age group.  This year however, the forecast was for lots of rain in the day before the race and during the race so I knew it would be sloppy and my main goal was staying upright.

The elite competition was strong this year – Sage Canaday, Hayden Hawks, David Laney, Max King (course record holder) and a bunch of near-elite runners showed up on the men’s side, and the women’s race included YiOu Wang and Camille Herron, among others.

I’ve written about Chuckanut several already times, so I’ll just hit the highlights:

  • Max King broke his own course record, finishing in 3:33:11 in sloppy conditions, beating Hayden “The New Jim Walmsley” Hawks by just 31 seconds (3:33:42).  Someone at the finish line told me Hayden was closing quickly but just ran out of real estate.  Must have been fun to watch them fly across the finish line.  Sage took 3rd.  A local unknown (to me at least) Ladia Alberston-Junkins took first in the women’s race (in her first 50k), YiOu Wang took second, another relative unknown from Spokane – Rachel Jaten – took 3rd (and 1st masters) also in her first 50k.
  • Some friends had fantastic days.  My friend Jeff K – who had never had a good race at Chuckanut – ran 4:41 and took 3rd in his age group while beating some very good runners.  Masazumi took 1st masters on a recently-sprained ankle.  Dave L won our age group (as usual).  Roger L placed 22nd overall.
  • It wasn’t the worst day ever for me, but it wasn’t the best either.  I finished in 5:53:10, about 30 minutes slower than last year – 7th in my AG.  I had some regrets looking at the results – 6 minutes faster would have moved me to 4th, and 15 minutes faster would have gotten me 2nd.  But I stayed upright and got a good workout for Boston and Canyons 100k next month.
  • I’m not sure exactly where the time went for me, but I think it breaks down something like this:
    • ~5 minutes for gear issues.  I’ve always run Chuckanut with just a handheld bottle and no extra clothes.  With the weather though, and my recent experience getting really cold at Black Canyon, I decided to err on the side of caution and wore an ultra vest to carry a raincoat, warm hat and gloves.  With hindsight, I would have been better skipping the vest, starting the race in gloves and putting the warm hat in a small SpiBelt.  As it was, the vest caused my iPod shuffle to come off my shorts and in trying to get it back on I managed to drop it in the mud.  I had to work upstream through runners to pick it up.  Once I did, the iPod didn’t work great anymore and I lost another minute or two fiddling with it as I ran before finally taking it off and sticking it in the vest.  I also waited too long to put on my gloves, and by the time I did my hands didn’t work very well so I again had to pull aside and work the gloves on.  I never wore the hat or the rain coat – once I got the gloves on my arm warmers, wool shirt and baseball cap were enough.
    • 5-10 minutes because it looks like the course was a little longer this year.  After running a slightly different course the past few years, they reverted to the original course this year for the anniversary.  This didn’t stop Max King from running it faster, but other people took a little longer and my Garmin track is 1.2 miles longer than last year.
    • That leaves ~15 minutes for a combo of mud, getting old, and giving up.  I had to pull aside 3 or 4 times in the first 15 miles to deal with stuff, and each time I did, lots of runners passed me.  I thought it would even out – if I had a good day in me I’d pass them back later in the race.  But I didn’t realize that each one of those people would chew up the trail a little more in front of me.  It looks like I lost most of my time in the more technical, muddy sections.  So in a sense, the slower I went, the slower I got because the trail degraded a little more.  Part of the problem is that it was rainy, foggy, and kind of dark, and my old man eyes don’t see quite as well in those conditions – wanting to stay upright I went a little more cautiously than I might have.  At some point, it was clear I wouldn’t be close to last year’s time and I didn’t seem to be having a great day, so I reset my goal to finishing under six hours which seemed possible but not a sure thing.
  • On the plus side, I did go pretty fast for the last 10 miles down Fragrance Lake Road and on flat final 10k.  Probably not quite as fast as at the Lost Lake 50k or Chuckanut last year, but definitely not in give-up mode, and I passed most of the other racers I encountered.  My watching was showing ~7 minute pace over the last mile or so.
  • The best part by far was seeing lots of friends at least briefly throughout the day.  Counting racers, volunteers, and spectators, I probably saw 30 people from around the NW that I tend to only see at races.  Thanks to all the people who volunteered.
  • I got a kiss from my friend Yvonne at the Kissing Booth at the Chuckanut Ridge aid station.  Yvonne just ran 131 miles in 24 hours, qualifying for the Irish National 24 hour team – and will represent the home team at the World Championships in Belfast in July.
  • There were also plenty of elite sightings, e.g. Ellie Greenwood was out cheering for us, David Laney recognized me from seeing each other at Greenlake, Sage was walking around with his mom at the finish, and Max King was next to me as we dropped off our finish line bags.

Yvonne at the Kissing Booth.


Just a couple of guys who run around Greenlake.

I left fairly quickly after the race, drove home, cleaned up, ate, and took a short nap.  Right around the time that I’d normally think about bed, Janet and I dragged ourselves out of the house to see Japandroids at the Neptune.  (If you live west of the Rockies, you might have heard the show.) We’d never heard of the opening act (The Uptown Controllers?) but feared that we’d go to sleep if we waited so we were there in time for the start of the show.  The crowd had the usual northwest mix of college students, lumbersexuals, and people older than 30.  It’s possible we weren’t the oldest people there.

It turned out the opener was Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady) and his solo band (The Uptown Controllers) – that was fun.  After he played, we pushed our way towards the stage, trying to avoid the usual situation where very tall people push right in front of our formerly-awesome spots on the floor.  We ended up 3 feet from the stage, about where the Japandroids drummer plays, with no tall people in front of us and a clear view.


The calm before the storm.

Japandroids opened up with Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.  About 20 seconds into the song, someone in the audience crawled onto the stage and then fell backwards onto the people to the left of us.  “Huh – haven’t been to a show like this for a while”.  A moment later I was almost knocked over as a mosh pit broke out just to the left of us.  Janet eased away and I pushed to the stage to brace myself.  A few minutes later – maybe during Adrenaline Nightshift – another guy near me pushed onto the stage, somehow using his face for leverage.  He stood there for a moment and then suddenly flew his 200+ pound body into the crowd at high speed and a flat angle.  There was a commotion where he landed – I guess everyone ducked – and security helped him off the floor.  After that, the drummer said something like “It look liked that was self-inflicted, but take care of each other out there.”

Things settled down a tiny bit after that, but we watched the rest of the show with half an eye on the chaos to our left.  Japandroids played for at least a couple hours, all at Fire’s Highway energy level.  It was their last show in the US before they return home to Vancouver, and they liked the crowd energy.  A lot of sound from just two people – it felt like my body throbbed for about an hour after the show from the Continuous Thunder.


  1. great stuff Mark, esp the mosh pit. oh man i miss those, i thought they were gone for good! …what is a lumbersexual?

  2. lumbersexual…isn’t that from a monty python sketch? anyhow, great work as usual, mark! congrats!

  3. I thought it was Monty Python also when Janet mentioned it to me, but I guess it’s a term as of a few years ago. Dead accurate too, especially in these parts.

  4. Hm, as a person who likes to start at the back, I will take your observations into account if I end up on a muddy course.

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