Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Salmon Falls 50k Race Review

Approaching the Finish Line
I just completed my first ultra-marathon this last Saturday.  It was the Salmon Falls 50k Endurance Run and it was incredible.  The course, volunteers, and race management all were top notch. 

The registration was done through Ultra Signup and was $95.00 plus 5.98 for processing ($100.98 total).  The fee pays for the race, finisher’s medal, and a light-weight jacket with the race logo on it.  Registration was really easy and you get a lot for your money.  The race benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JRDF), which is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research.  Not only are you getting to do an awesome race, but get to help changes lives as well.

Packet Pickup:
The packet pickup was at Gold Country Run and Sport in Folsom the day before the event.  There was only one person in line at the time I was there and they were very organized.  You picked up your bib, jacket, and a sample jar of Squirrel’s Nut Butter.  The people from Squirrel’s Nut Butter were on hand to talk about their product and they had some larger jars for sale as well.  I do wish that they offered race day packet pickup, but it wasn’t a big deal.

Parking and Transportation:
The morning of the race, you can hop on a school bus (they had 4 or 5) that will take you from the finish at Folsom Point to the start at the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead.  The gates opened at 6:00AM and the buses left at 6:45.  There were park restrooms that were open (three mixed gender stalls).  There wasn’t anyone from the park at the booth and there were only a few envelopes in a box to pay for parking.  I got one of the envelopes, but many people had to pay on their way out.  There were plenty of parking spots though and volunteers directed people to the closest parking spots.  People could also be dropped off at the start line or they had parking across the street.

It started out around 38 degrees at the start of the race and warmed up to the mid 50’s.  It was nice during most of the race and there was a little breeze the last 2 miles that cooled you off.  Even with the creek crossings, the temperature was never too warm or cold.  The conditions were most likely a little more wet than normal because of the unusually wet winter.  The creeks did shrink back to a decent level by race day though.  A few weeks before, two of the creeks were impassable because of the runoff.

The course starts out at the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead where you run through a wet, marshy area.  After about the first ½ mile, you come to the first river crossing.  The water was just under my knees and there were steel posts with ropes to help guide you along the way. 

Once you cross the creek, the climbing begins.  You follow the “Connector Trail” as you run through the hills of Cronan Ranch.  There are oak groves and meadows and you can see the American River below at certain spots.  You go up a hill that is about a mile long (Hidden Valley Cut Off Trail) toward Pedro Hill.  Once you get to the Cronon Ranch parking lot (first aid station), you begin to ascend the West Ridge Trail to the top of the ridge.  You can look down at the Cronon ranch area as you are running on top of the ridge.

You start to descend and have an aid station part way down the long hill, which will take you to another creek crossing, which is about half way up your calf.  There aren’t any ropes, but it wasn’t an issue at all.  After the crossing, you head back up until you reach an overlook with manzanita on either side of you.  You can see Salmon Falls, and Folsom Lake off in the distance.

This is where you start to descend toward the Salmon Falls Parking Lot, and the third aid station.  On the way down that hill, you encounter the “Red Dragon” which gets its name because of its technical twists and turns as well as tons of rocks and red soil.

After the aid station, you cross a bridge and start to follow the Sweat Water Creek trail system.  You run along oak groves, open grassy meadows, and plenty of views of the lake.  This section (the last 20 miles or so) is made up of mainly rolling single tract trails.  There are a few more aid stations along the way and you end up back at Folsom Point where the finish line awaits. 

Aid Stations:
Each aid station had water, electrolytes, and coke in small cups.  They also had an assortment of trail foods.  They had pretzel sticks, M&M’s, PB&J sandwiches, salted baked potatoes, potato chips, Oreo's and gels.  I absolutely loved the pretzels and coke.  The volunteers at the aid stations would refill your bottles and get you anything you needed and encouraged you while they did it.  They were awesome!!!

Post-Race Party
As you cross the finish line, to awesome music, they called out your name.  You were given a water and they put your finisher’s medal around your neck.  They had a variety of soda and beer as well as burgers and soup.  The food was great and the crowd was awesome.

Free Pictures:
The people from Captivating Sport Photos were at the race to take pictures.  They offer you the pictures for free if you would like to download them or you can purchase prints from their website.  I love that I get free pictures and they did an amazing job.

Group Picture at the Start
Running along Folsom Lake
Enjoying the Trails
Crossing the Finish Line
You get a light weight jacket with the race logo on the front.  The jacket is a little big, but is nice.  There are several areas of reflective piping as well. They were also selling hats for $20 each (proceeds went the JRDF as well). They had a trucker hat or runner’s hat.  I bought the runner’s hat and really like it.  The finisher’s medal has the race logo on a spinner.  The whole medal and ribbon looks extremely sharp.  It is one of my favorite medals (although that could be due to this being my first ultra).

Jacket, Hat, and Medal
Finisher's Medals
Salmon Falls’ Social Media Links

I absolutely love this race.  Everything was top notch from the course, to the management and the volunteers.  There were plenty of aid stations and the SWAG rocked!  I would highly recommend this race and I will be back!

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