Monday, August 27, 2012

Zoom! Running Events' Castle Rock Trail Run

Update - I had no intentions of being a photog for this run, but once I started taking pictures of the lead runners, runners behind them were smiling and waving for the camera and I felt guilty not taking their picture, so I just kept on taking them. In the end, it worked out well as there were no on course photographers, which makes my low quality, bad shots seem like keepers.  You can see photos (including Ryan's trail rash) here.

 Coastal Trail Run's has a new endeavour, their "flatter, faster runs", known as Zoom! Running Events.
Originally, the course for their Castle Rock 13.1 was indeed "flatter and faster", but with the City of Walnut Creek not being 'runner friendly', thanks to the mess that was the WC Half Marathon, the city would not grant permission to use Shell Ridge for any part of the course.  What to do? Re-route up Mt. Diablo just a few days before the race.  During pre-race instructions, Wendell instructed the runners to "pretend it's flat"..... for 2740 ft of climbing.    This was not a concern for Brian, but for those who are new to the trail and wanting an event to 'get their feet wet', it would prove a challenging day indeed!  Steep, technical, no aid station the last 7 miles, and finishing w/5 miles of down hill. Brian was excited! The course re-route meant he'd be running by China Wall, Macedo Ranch, and Rock City, 3 places on the Mt that we love, but have never experienced as part of an official run.

 The kids and I had about 5 minutes before the start to run up the trail to the rock I wanted to be on top of for picture taking.
 These are not in order, but this is after all distances passed us outbound.  We headed out to where B was going to leave his sweatshirt on a table and picked it up for him.
 Then we walked back toward the start, Myles had breakfast in a cave, and I kept taking pictures of the inbound runners.

 Ok, totally out of order, but this is walking from the parking area to the start. It was a perfect morning for a run, beautiful blue skies, low temps, smell of horses in the air....

 Wendell on the left giving last minute course instructions before the 10k's and 13.1ers head out.

 We made it to my rock in time, here they come! Brian and our friend Ryan are in the back starting up the first hill.
 They are in grey and black just right of the runner in red.
 Now they are in grey and black in front of the runner in yellow.
 There they go!

 Up and away, wont see them again for a few hours.
 This was walking out to retrieve B's shirt. This is the same course for Brazen's Diablo Challenge 5k course, but all creeks are dry this time of year.
 We took pictures of every runner and the kids got a few high-fives.
 Lots of happy runners....and lots of "how much further?" questions, and "how many more hills?"

 This dude totally shredded the 5k! He was in second place when he passed us outbound, and in first by a substantial lead inbound. We talked a bit, he's 11 and runs cross country at school. His mom was running the 13.1, so its in he genes. I don't think he even broke a sweat.
 This guy, Peter, won the 13.1....he started 10 minutes late.  I had seen him come through after all the 5k's had started, and well after the 13.1ers started.  I dont' know his story, or if he's a well known local guy or what, but the dude passed every single 13.1er and won. 
 Peter proves you should never judge a dude by his shorts. When he ran passed us at the back of the back of the pack, sporting super short, silky shorts that looked more like boxers than running shorts, I actually giggled.  Who would have thought he was a total hard core runner?? (I didn't see his Dipsea shirt, that would have tipped me off)
 Ryan came through in 2:10, 11th overall, sporting some dirt along his left side from a face plant. He had a nice trail rash on his arm, and a nasty looking large  raspberry/rash/scrape under his shirt about where his arm is in this pic.  He was also our speaker later in the day at meeting and happy his face came through unscathed or it would have been pretty embarrassing to get up in front of 100+ people and speak for 30 minutes with trail rash face!

 And here comes Brian with Emma!

 He finished strong in 2:37, super speedy for this tough of a course!

 Originally he was posted as 4th in his AG, which is always a bitter pill to swallow, so close to getting a medal.
 Unlike most Coastal Trail Run events, Zoom! did indeed give everyone a nice medal!
Super proud of Brian! It was a tough course, and he put up a great time!

As for Zoom!, I think if they stick to 'as advertised' courses, they will have a following.  My gut says they are aiming at the same group of runners as Brazen, (keeping distances at 13.1 and under, and elevation under 3000 ft.) and we know who wins in that scenario...Brazen will always be the best!  But, with the amount of trail runners in the bay area, and the amount of trails, there is definitely room for Zoom!.  I saw a ton of Brazen shirts at this event, and I suppose on the weekends Brazen does not have an event, Zoom!'s courses are comparable in distance and elevation, and would fill  a need.

Some of B's thoughts - there were only 2 aid stations. They were bare bones, manned by one person at each, and while they had the usual stuff, there were no potatoes, which he's come to expect at Coastals events, and missed. (this was only 13.1, and not really a potato distance, so that's not a legit complaint in my book). Shirts and medals were ok, sized well, nothing to legitimately complain about, that said..not Brazen quality. There was one table of post food stuff, not much there, and non of the soup that you'll find at the end of a normal Coastal run.  Again, with "easier" distances and elevation, wouldn't be the same need for food afterwards, but it's always nice to have.

Overall thoughts- always nice to have a new race company, or brother company (??) available for a run when you want to run! Wendell said he got a call from his brother who wanted to get into putting on races, and that is where the Zoom! events sprang from.  Things were organized, even had a packet pickup the day before at Sports Basement, decent shirts and real complaints about anything. We would for sure run with Zoom! again if the timing and course was appealing. Price wise they are right in there with everyone else, so that wouldn't really be a deciding factor.

Best wishes, Zoom! May you have many years of races ahead of you!


  1. I wanted to run this, but when I saw the new course and the 3.5 hour cutoff, I decided to skip it since I wasn't sure I could do it that fast (I've never done the Brazen version that fast).

    I'm glad to hear it went OK. The aid station thing was a bit of a worry, but it's not unusual for Coastal to spread them out a bit.

    Diane and I are likely doing the next Zoom event - Lake Vasona on Labor Day - so I'll be able to see for myself. (That race fits much better with the Zoom model.)

  2. Just catching up on your blog...

    That KID...his name is Charlie! He is super sweet guy. He was in Hunter's class two years ago...just entered 5th grade! His mom is a marathoner and owns FitChick Training (
    ....she trains marathoners and does Boot Camp classes in the park!

    1. Hey Tina,
      His mom finished in the top 3 females I believe, she looks super fit, not surprised to hear she's a trainer!