37 Days to WSER: Best Ever Roadside Run

On May 23rd I travelled from the Bay Area out to Auburn for the Memorial Day weekend training runs. I would be running the final 70 miles of the Western States course over the three-day weekend but the tale of those runs will come later.

My quads were feeling sore after charging the previous day’s downhills faster than planned. After checking in at my accommodation in Auburn I travelled through to the headquarters of the Tahoe National Forest in Nevada City, which is in Nevada County, although both the city and county are in the state of California (but that is enough geography for now). The National Forest covers the Western States trail as well as plenty of other trail and wilderness areas in the vicinity.

After speaking to the helpful staff and collecting some maps and trail guides for the area I asked whether there were any convenient 8-10 mile trails that I could run nearby. The Pioneer Trail is a 25-mile one-way trail that was only six miles away, and as an out-and-back route could be run as any distance. I checked out how to get there and made my way down the highway to a large car park that was empty save for me.

I realised that I had forgotten my Suunto Ambit GPS watch at my hotel so I needed to decide whether to go watchless or take the stainless steel Omega De ville that was on my wrist. I wanted to determine my turnaround point based on time so the Omega was to be used as a sports watch for what I believe is the second time in its 12-year lifespan. I opted to take my Salomon Sense Hydro S-LAB Handheld Hydration Set (now that could make a good tongue twister) with me for the run, carrying a 240-ml soft flask in each hand.

The trail ran parallel to the road so I exited the car park and made my way onto the trail. It was a perfectly maintained single track, although it never moved further than 30 metres or so from the highway. Luckily there were few cars so you could generally forget that the road was even there. After some properties and side roads in the first couple of kilometres there became nothing but forest visible on my left, and a stand of trees on my right although it was possible to glimpse tar on the other side of those trees.

The trail was relatively flat with some rolling hills although it featured more uphill on the way out. After just over 35 minutes the trail crossed over to the other side of the road so I decided that I would instead use that point as my turnaround. I reversed my course and headed back to the car. My legs felt better and better as the run continued, and by the time I returned to the car I would have been happy to continue on. It couldn’t be called wilderness but it was a glorious run of 12 km or so. I had plenty of running to come so I hopped in the car and called it a day.

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