As many of you know, my sweet friend Corrie wanted to run her first ultra-marathon to celebrate her 30th birthday. She chose the North Fork 50, we trained together, traveled to Denver with a group of friends, and had an amazing race experience!
I woke up around 4am to have some coffee and my good luck race breakfast…banana bread.
We left the hotel at 5am, drove a little under an hour, and arrived at the race for 6am packet pickup. This left us with plenty of time for packing gear and potty stops before the 7am start.
Ladies: here’s one of the many reasons to run trails… NO LINE for the women’s restroom!!!
This start line rocked because you didn’t have to use porta potties, but….
Start temps were in the upper 40’s and peaked in the upper 70’s….WITH NO HUMIDITY!!!
The start and finish area were right beside the North Fork of the South Platte River and Pine Lake!
The start line was super chill. The race director made sure we understood the course markings, warned us about mountain bikes, and said “ready, set, go.”
And, we’re off….
The course had 3 big climbs. The first started immediately and lasted for about 3 miles of upness. (Not a word, but it works for me.) The next big climbs were around mile 15 and mile 25.
**Note: Nashville is around 550ft above sea level, so this was a huge jump in altitude for us!
The course is mostly single track trails in the Pine National Forest, although you do run a few Jeep roads and share the trails with mountain bikers. Here’s our motley crew enjoying some downhill!
The 50k course let’s you visit your drop bag twice (because of a loop on the course) at miles 14 and 24. We were having way too much fun at mile 24!
The terrain seemed to range from pine forests to desert-esque with beautiful rock formations. The sun was intense! I re-applied sunscreen at the aid stations and still got a little pink.
I carried 2 handhelds and drank Cocogo (discount code: JENCHOOSESJOY) and the sports drink on the course. I made myself drink more than I usually would because of the high altitude.
Aid station food…another reason why trail running rocks!
- Pretzels, chips, goldfish
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches….I ate my weight in pb&j’s!
- Gummy bears, candy bars
- Oatmeal cream pies and Fig Newtons
- Salt tabs
I have struggled with pretty severe altitude sickness my whole life. I started taking Diamox on Wednesday and flew out to Denver on Thursday. I felt nauseous on Friday, but never got sick. I felt great for the rest of the trip! My side effects: appetite suppressant, tingly toes and fingers, and super thirsty (but that may have just been the altitude).
As I typed in an earlier post, my main goal was to run with Corrie for her first 50k. We stuck together the whole race and she crushed it with a finish time of 7:16!!! Finishing with her is my favorite memory from the whole trip!
Our group had 3 first time ultra-marathoners…congrats to Corrie, Bob, and Alicia!!!!
The finish line is right in front of a huge pavilion where they’re grilling out and serving lunch. The finishers and spectators get to eat in the shade while cheering on the finishers…genius!
The Finisher Award…super cool!
Finish line pose with my gorgeous friends!
The Platte River was freezing…the perfect post-race ice bath! The current was pretty strong, too. I was afraid to let go of my rock.
I love my Ultra Dirtbag family!!!
The stinkiest post-race trunk EVER!!
I loved this race, so I made a little list of Reasons to Run the North Fork 50:
- You get to park at the starting line
- Indoor bathrooms with no line for the ladies room
- Race morning bib pickup
- Well marked course…none of us got lost!
- Beautiful scenery. Wild flowers. Rock formations. Water. Snow capped mountains
- Well stocked aid stations that were never more than 6 miles apart.
- The friendliest volunteers…seriously! These folks were so kind and helpful!
- Pottery finisher medal
- The post-race lunch even included veggie burgers!
- Cheap flights to Denver
- It’s a very runnable course and makes a great first ultra.
- Cold river at finish equals ice bath
- Easy drive in/out for spectators at aid stations
- Last 4 miles are downhill
- No humidity!!! Ok maybe this one is a little selfish. When I run in Nashville, I’m soaked. I finished North Fork and was dry.
Big thanks and congrats to Alicia for finishing her first ultra and for sharing her race photos with me for this post!