Sun Mountain 25k

from The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Friday afternoon we headed over to the east side of the Cascades for Rainshadow Running’s Sun Mountain 25k. The stoke was high that the highway 20 pass opened just days before, cutting our road trip in half. We stopped at Washington Pass for the obligatory “look how much snow there is!” picture.

I made reservations for us to stay the weekend at the Winthrop KOA, the crème de la crème of campgrounds. Our tent sat right next to the river which was rushing so hard it sounded like the ocean. The owners were just delightful; super welcoming and hospitable. The bathrooms were insane. Held inside a landscaped cedar cabin, inside each door is your own private toilet, sink and vinyl shower. I will forever be spoiled.

Tad and I ran 9 miles of the course on Saturday while cheering on the 50k runners we saw on the course (Kaytlyn Gerbin, Michael Plummer and Tara Berry crushed it!). I feel a lot more confident going into a race when I know the course so I try to see as much as is reasonable the day before. This also allows me to really stop and enjoy the amazing scenery, which is just breathtaking.

James moved the start of the race up two hours from 10:00am to 8:00am. I was so grateful for this change as it was going to be a high of 82 in the Methow on Sunday, a temperature to which I am not acclimated.

After studying the course and splits from folks who ran it last year, my goal was to run under two hours. But after previewing the course and finding out that an extra 1.4 or so miles was added, I let the time goal go and just focused on running aggressive. And, let’s be real, a win is always nice, too.

The first couple of miles are net downhill and a woman took it out hard at about 6:15 pace. I worked to catch up to her and passed her at 3.5 miles. I continued to move up the field catching the 7th and 8th place men on the first sustained climb. I shared a few miles with Brett Winegar who was clearly running much more relaxed than me based on his ability to speak in full sentences versus my grunting.  They kept me company until the aid station where I did not stop and kept the pressure on to try to gap the woman who was hot on my heels.

When I saw Tad at 10 miles, she was 90 seconds behind and then at mile 11.4 she was 4 minutes behind. Experience has taught me to not rest on my laurels despite the increasing gap so I continued to run scared. With a couple of miles to go, I checked my watch and realized I still might have a chance at breaking two hours! But the clock was ticking and the finish line was just out of reach. I finished the approximate 15.7-mile course in 2:01:08.

Full results here.

Congratulations to everyone who ran not only the 25k, but also the 100k and 50k in such warm conditions. An extra special congratulation to Doug McKeever, who returned to racing after a 10-year hiatus. Doug is a pioneer of the sport and it is because of people like him that not only make trail racing possible with volunteering, etc., but are also a tremendous source of inspiration and a tribute to the longevity of the sport.

I didn’t embarrass myself this time and knock James out at the finish.

Thank you to James, the Rainshadow Running crew, and all the volunteers who make these events so special. I realize that this is biased, but the trail running community is the best and I just feel so blessed to be a part of it and have so many good people in my life.

I have had consistent training for 8 weeks now thanks to the help of Kerry Gustafson, Chris Lockwood and Tonia Boze. A month out from Mont Blanc I feel good both physically and mentally. Another two weeks of training and we head to Europe.

Thank you for reading and for all the messages of support and encouragement. They carry me far.


Sunglasses: Native Eyewear

Shoes: La Sportiva Helios SR

Pre-race fuel: TrailButter Dark Chocolate & Coffee

Body care: Rocket Pure Friction Therapy Anti-Chafe Balm & Sunscreen

Click here to shop Maria’s store; any purchase supports her journey!

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