Regardless of what distance you plan on racing at this years Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs (55k, 50mile or 100 mile), it takes months and months of hard work and dedication to get to the start line fit and healthy. But those months of dedication won't prepare you for the intricacies, conjuring "tastes of heaven and glimpses of hell," of the challenging TRT course.
Having lived in Carson City, I got to know these beautiful trails pretty well. I could run from my backdoor, up Ash Canyon Road, and arrive on the TRT about 9 miles and 3,000 ft later. These are still some of my favorite trails to run. I also raced the 50 miler (my first ultra) and 100 miler, so I have experienced the highs and lows of the TRT course.
Below are 4 race day tips that may be helpful come July 18th!
Be aware of the DG (decomposed granite): This fine sediment, worn off weathered granite boulders over eons, can become a problem for people that are not used to running on this surface. The DG will get into your shoes one way or another, which can cause some feet issues down the trail. The DG also as a great reflector to the sun light (just like the cold white stuff). TIP: Gaiters! If you haven't tried them out consider it for TRT. Staving off the DG will keep your feet happy :) I recommend Altras gaiters, found here: https://www.altrarunning.com/trail-gaiters/altra-trail-gaiter. Salomon and Outdoor Research both offer great gaiters. Everyone should lather on some sunscreen but those extra sensitive to the sun can try some arm-coolers, a large brimmed hat and some sunnies to keep that sun at bay!
2. A Glimpse of HELL - THE "sneaky" RED HOUSE LOOP: Departing from Tunnel Creek Aid (12 mile mark), you go right and downhill (1,000 feet) to start the 6.3 mile loop. You'll stop by the historic Red House Aid, home to caretakers of the historic flume system that provided water and timber to Virginia City during its mining boom. Don't be fooled. "Only a 1,000 ft?" you might say. This 10k loop is tough, especially for the 100 milers who have to complete it twice. Its tough because the 1,000 feet drops (and climbs back out!) quickly on technical terrain, early in the race. It's easy to take the decent too quick, which makes the climb back up a slog, and the remainder of the course extra challenging. TIP: Take the decent and the climb back out EASY, keeping in mind the gradual 6 mile uphill to Bull Wheel Aid.
3. Bandana with ICE: Just like the cowboys! TRT starts at Spooner Lake at 7,000 ft and averages 8,000 ft throughout the course. YOU CLOSE TO THE SUN! In July the temperatures can be in the mid to high 80's.The bandana around the neck will help protect you from the strong July sun and keep you cool. TIP: Put some ice in your bandana or hat at aid stations to keep your neck nice and cool.
4. The NEVERending decent (Tyrolean downhill): After leaving Bull Wheel Aid, you have 4 miles to the Incline Creek Trail junction and another 4 miles and 2,000ft of decent (Tyrolean downhill) to Diamond Peak Aid (50k mark and 80mile mark for 100 milers). Eight miles from your last aid, a BIG descent, twists, turns, berms, and jumps--this a is a good place to have a ton of fun, but also a good place to bonk hard. TIP: Take plenty of fluids & calories with you from Bull Wheel Aid and take DON'T take the descent to Diamond Peak aid station too quick. Why? Because after that descent, you have a 1.8 mile 1,700 ft climb up a ski slope in thick DG, thats why!
I hope these tips are helpful and most importantly get you excited for an epic journey in July!