After a couple of year's worth of warm Boston Marathons and almost 2 years since I'd last PR'd at the distance, I was ready for a FAST race. I'd heard good things about Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon from Hyak to North Bend, Washington, from other runners. I knew Sabrina, the race director as well. Unfortunately, the day before race sign-ups, Sabrina and the race owner had an issue, and parted ways. I didn't know this until after I'd signed up - Sabrina had started her own race the day prior - anyway, there was a lot of confusion and the race we signed up for was the original Light at the End of the Tunnel. This is a pretty neat race - starting with a 2.5 mile tunnel in near complete darkness, then running 24 miles down a gentle decline of an old railroad grade - 2000' in 24 miles - never really steep enough to really hurt your quads, with no climbs at all. All run through typical Pacific Northwest forest and mountains. Limited access for crowd support and aid station widely seperated, but still a great race.
There were a few snafu's at the start. The RD/race owner promised two drop bags at the start, so I didn't bring a gear check bag. There were NO drop bags - fortunately, Marla brought one and I stuffed all my gear into it. There were supposed to be photographers along the course - there was only a single photographer at the finish, who didn't take photos of everyone (no pictures of Marla, for example) and who wasn't a professional (my photo is very blurry). Some of the aid stations weren't ready for leading runners.
But most of that stuff is extraneous to the race, I guess. Temps were great, with a 39 degree start and about a 60 degree finish. I started out a bit slower than I had planned - my cheap camp light for a "headlamp" was too dim to light up the trail, so I ran a little cautiously through the tunnel, waiting on some slower runners to catch up with me so that I could see from their headlamps. Once out of the tunnel, I missed water at the first aid station (volunteer wasn't ready) and I started the downhills, pretty much averaging between a 6:25 and a 6:40 pace the entire way. I started out about 10th out of the tunnel, but slowly and surely started picking off runners, with only one guy passing me in the last 4-5 miles, and I ended up finishing 5th overall and 2nd in my age group (45-49). I was VERY happy with the near-5 minute PR, finishing in 2:53:19.
Shoes: I ran in Altra Escalante, size 10.5, which feel amazing!
Shorts: I ran in Boston Marathon 3" split shorts from Adidas.
Shirt: I wore a Lucky singlet from InknBurn
Socks: Injinji OTC 2 Compression socks, felt great.
Fuel: I carried 6x Apple/Cinnamon Hammer Gels and took one every 5 miles. I took lots of water and Gatorade as needed.
Hat: Marathon Maniacs classic hat. Very comfortable.
Glasses: my red iridium custom Flak Jackets from Oakley.
Watch: Garmin 920XT with tri HRM.