The Just-Right Miwok 100K
A new, improved course and stellar weather make for ideal race
Women's winner Lisa Hughey running near Mile 52 along Pirates Cove in the Miwok 100K, paced by her husband Harris Mason. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.
The Miwok 100K on May 3, 2014, had all the ingredients for an ideal ultra trail race. An improved route traversed the sublime landscape of the Marin Headlands and captured iconic views of the San Francisco Bay area. Well-organized volunteers provided abundant support. The blue sky stayed sunny but not too hot. And the finish-line party radiated positive energy in the picturesque aging-hipping hamlet of Stinson Beach.
The only thing missing? The top dogs who in prior years made Miwok more interesting from a competitive standpoint. Past participants such as Dave Mackey, Mike Wolfe, Hal Koerner, Anton Krupicka, Kami Semick, Nikki Kimball, Krissy Moehl and others of their caliber didn’t show up. This year, lesser-known regional standouts and up-and-comers led the men’s and women’s fields.
Champion master’s runner Gary Gellin of San Francisco, 45, was the only elite-level competitor who seemed to recognize and embrace the quality of the race. Whereas many of his fellow competitors made April 12’s Lake Sonoma 50-miler their early-season “A” race and warm-up for June’s Western States 100, Gellin says he deliberately viewed Lake Sonoma as a “B” race and focused his energies on running his best possible Miwok three weeks later.
As a result, Gellin ran away with the win in 8:56, more than 40 minutes ahead of the next finishers.
“The Miwok 100K is a fantastic stepping stone for Western States, just eight short weeks away,” says Gellin. “Marin County is a very special place and makes for one of the best venues for trail running in the world.”
Race Director Tia Bodington was neither surprised nor disappointed that more of the sport’s speedsters didn’t fit the 19th edition of the Miwok 100K into their calendars. “These things go in cycles—races get hot, the big names do them and then they move on to do something else,” she says. “Miwok’s draw is the beauty of the course. My goal is to focus on every runner, rather than focusing on the elites.”
If anything, Miwok seemed more popular than ever. Many of the 437 starters—the largest field ever—eagerly ran it to earn a ticket for the 2015 Western States 100 lottery, which last year tightened its qualifying standards by eliminating 50-mile races. Only a handful of 100Ks count as qualifying races for the WS100 lottery, Miwok being one.
Bodington felt both pleased and relieved by this year’s race, given that she had to adjust the course repeatedly during the past three years due to demands by the parks’ governing bodies. “We’ve had several years of trouble with meeting all the permit requirements, with weather and with finding a new start/finish area,” she says. “This version is the Miwok I want to keep.”