• San Francisco,
    United States
  • December
  • 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, 50K, 50 miles, Relay
  • Trail Race
  • Event Website


Connecticut, United States
9 5
"A Tough but Well Supported 1st 50K"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Becky 's thoughts:

The North Face Endurance Challenge-California is where I tested out my true endurance as a runner -- this is the site of my first ultra: a 50K. The information leading up to the race was excellent. The emails that came out focused on training and prepping for the event.The emails that arrived during race week focused on the details (where to get your bib, parking, etc). I had a question about packet pickup and I received a response back promptly.

The shuttle situation worked out well for us as we stayed at a host hotel (Holiday Inn Express in Mill Valley). We simply stepped outside, got onto the bus and got dropped off near the start line. For those who drove, a designated parking lot was utilized and those folks took a shuttle to the start as well.

The morning was cold. Wow, I didn't prepare the best I could have for the race. I was running with 3 friends and all of us were scolding ourselves. I had checked the weather and was expecting high 40's. Well, apparently San Francisco, and especially where this race took place can be chillier. Therefore, I advise anyone racing this (esp those with an early start like the 50 miler or 50k) to prepare for temperatures that are roughly 10-15 degrees cooler than what the weather.com app says. There were some fire bins going and some tents where we all huddled so I think the race organizers did their best to keep us warm prior to the start.

When this race tells you to prepare for elevation, they aren't kidding. Serious elevation. I clearly did not run enough hills prior so I ended up walking all the hills. Most folks walked the big hills (esp in the first half of the race) so I didn't feel as bad but I would recommend anyone who runs this race to train extra miles on hills.

The scenery was beautiful. I can't say enough good things. The trail itself wasn't too difficult or crazy. There was one section of downhill with wooden steps built into the trail that were rather slick with morning dew so most everyone slowed down. But overall, the terrain wasn't too rough. The trails were well marked.

The aid stations....this was my favorite part. I have never loved aid stations like this. I felt like I was coming upon a buffet at every station. Just about everything a runner would/could want: bananas, orange slices, potatoes (soaked in water so they were soft), potato chips, Clif shot bloks, M&Ms, water, Clif powder energy drink and my favorite...Coke. Wow, drinking soda pop during a race was the most delicious and wondrous thing I ever had during a race. I know I must sound crazy but I never realized how great Coke would be during a race. So every time I got to an aid station, I immediately went to grab myself a Coke. Ahhhh, so refreshing.

The people: For me, this race was tough. Really tough. I'm not the fastest runner so I was concerned about the hard cutoff of 10 hours. I walked way more than I had planned. Overall, I felt like I was doing okay. The other runners were incredibly supportive. Every time they passed me (or I moved to the side to let them pass b/c the trail was narrow) they were offering so many words of encouragement or wanted to high five me. That meant a lot to me b/c this was my first ultra and I had a lot of self doubt. I can't give enough positive comments about the aid stations, the volunteers and the other runners. All were fantastic.

The only negative I have to share is the medal. I know it's all about the bling but the medal was kind of ordinary and small. When I crossed that finish line, I wanted a big flashy medal to drape around my neck. But I suppose that in some ways, this race was about endurance...about pushing yourself and knowing what you can do. The other runners were fantastic but other than there, there weren't really any spectators or lines of people cheering you on. I didn't have cell service at all during the race so I didn't get any support texts from friends or family. This race was about me never quitting and never stopping so I guess that the subtle look of the medal was actually quite appropriate.

Loading Comments...

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Latest reviews

Loading Reviews...