FKT: Dustin White - Mt Tamalpais (CA) - 2020-09-25

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Total time
2h 29m 59s

My first FKT attempt! Marin has been my cycling playground for the past 20 years and only recently is where I've fallen in love with trail running. When I saw there was an FKT route up/down my favorite mountain I just had to give it a go!

I decided to do this on a Friday to avoid crowds on the ever popular Dipsea and Steep Ravine trails. Unfortunately I started somewhat late (~10:15) so still ran into some trail traffic, but not as bad as a weekend. This is a fun route to strategize on pacing - the first 3 miles of the climb include the steepest and most technical bits and the remaining 4 miles are a much more runnable grade. I may have gone out a bit too hard because when I reached Pantoll Station and the mellower grades it took me awhile to find a rhythm. I'm a Type 1 Diabetic, so blood glucose control can make-or-break a run and luckily today everything on that front went according to plan - I can't get my continuous glucose monitor values to reliably show up on my Garmin watch where cell service is spotty, but I pulled my insulin pump out out every ~30 minutes or so for a quick check.

The aptly-named Steep Ravine trail is gorgeous and fully shaded but also full of roots and rock stairs and is the only real technical section of the route. I've hiked it many times but never run it before. I decided not to carry a hydration vest, opting to refill a handheld at Pantoll Station and at East Peak - this might have slowed me down a touch, but I was happy for the quick breaks. Unfortunately the water fountains were all shut off (COVID-19 casualty) but I was able to refill inside the restrooms. I was careful to keep my climbing effort out of the red zone but even still was pretty smashed when I got to East Peak. The final 1/4 mile UP to the East Peak lookout is steep, loose and rocky and I was worried starting the descent with a spiked HR so let myself slow down and find good footing. In all my years hiking/riding in Marin I had never before actually gone up to the lookout - the views are of course spectacular, although today there was an ominous haze to the south reminding all that CA's wildfire season may just be heating up. I got some strange looks from the tourists and hikers who were snapping photos while I quickly tagged the lookout, snapped a selfie and hustled back down the trail. I got an adrenaline boost when I reached the summit in ~1h:23m (in my head I had roughly calculated that I would be able to set the FKT if I reach the top under 1h:30m). I refilled my bottle in the East Peak restroom and ran some cool water over my hat and bandanna and then started the trip back down.

I felt surprisingly good going down Old Railroad Grade fireroad but was careful not to fully open it up - I knew if I got to the more technical Steep Ravine trail with jello legs I would be in trouble. One final water stop at Pantoll to regain composure and focus on the final leg. At this point I was certain I would set the FKT so I started thinking about a finish goal - 2h:30m seemed possible and I pushed as hard as I could without getting out of control on the steep roots and stairs heading down. The legs were starting to hurt - usually it's my hamstrings or quads that sting first, but today it was calves. Lots of friendly hikers gave way as I pounded down the final 3 miles. I was hurting when I got back into the town of Stinson Beach and might have eased up but a glance at my watch gave me 90s to make it back to the lifeguard tower finish on the beach under 2h:30m. I dug in and pushed - the the final 100m on the soft sand was purgatory, but I touched the lifeguard tower and stopped my watch at 2h:29m:59s! The sun was out and the beach which had been empty when I started was now packed - I must have been an odd sight to the the sunbathers and surfers.

Can't wait to see what some elite runners can do on this FKT!


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Dustin, I'm just now reading this. Great write-up! Glad you enjoyed this one! I was kind of surprised no one had thought to put up a sea-summit-sea variation when I submitted this. I'm looking fwd to seeing what the elites can do with it as well (despite how increasingly slow it makes me look lol). Btw, my sister has type 1 as well. Glad things went in ur favor! Well done!