The Skyline 50K (as well as marathon and half marathon) is a local race that takes place in the mountains East of Ogden, Utah. Despite being just over an hour from my house, this was my first time running in this area. I signed up for this one primarily as a tune up before my last race of the season in September, but with the weird season I have had, it also happened to be the first race since February that I have been completely healthy so it would also serve as true test of my health. This race is tricky because, being in mid-August, it has the risk of getting quite hot. As luck would have it though, we got a small break in the temperature as it was only expected to get into the upper 80’s. This made for a great opportunity to have fun and enjoy the trails while also maybe pushing myself a little bit. For the most part, I stuck with my strategy of running a consistently paced race without overtaxing my heart rate and ended up being only a couple of beats over my target average heart rate for the entire race (some of which may have been impacted by the bees – more on that later).
The race started from the Ben Lomand trailhead in Liberty, Utah immediately with a 3,000 foot climb over the first six miles. I actually prefer this as it gives me a chance to warm up a bit without the pressure to start out in a sprint. The grade of this first climb was pretty consistent all the way up, which meant it fairly runnable. I ended up running 75% of this first climb to the aid station at the top without really extending outside of my heart rate threshold. This race was full of unique challenges for me; the first was right around mile four. While running through a particularly narrow, overgrown section of trail, I didn’t see a forward facing root sticking out of the ground which ended up skewering the upper on my shoe. While it held together, I got to spend the next 27 miles with my toes sticking out of my shoe. While this did force me to have to empty rocks out of my shoe more often, it didn’t seem to impact my running too much.
After topping off my water bottle, I began the first descent, which was six miles back downhill to the Ogden Divide. This was a pretty runnable section of the course the whole way down, but was also the busiest section of the course in terms of hikers. Still, it was pretty manageable. At this point in the race, there were about four or five of us grouped together for the entire six miles. Once down to this aid station, I filled my bottles back up again, got some fruit, and began the steepest (but last) climb of the course. This is when my next personal challenge came in the form of multiple bee stings. I haven’t been stung by a bee since elementary school when I got stung in the ear and it swelled completely shut making me look like an MMA fighter. With this memory, I became somewhat concerned considering I now had three fresh bee stings. I decided to hike slowly for the next 10-15 minutes to keep a close eye on my heart rate. This probably ended up costing me a sub-6 hour finish time and one or two spots, but better safe than sorry I suppose. After I was sure I was good to go, I got back to running all the way into the mile 16 aid station. From here, the 50K runners have to do a 5 mile out and back to Lewis Peak. This offered the best view on the course and is well worth the extra 5 miles over the marathon. See for yourself:
After coming back through the same aid station once again, you jump back on the marathon course, which is a 6 mile downhill to the last aid station. This downhill was fun, but it was finally starting to get hot as I dropped a bit in altitude. While all of the aid stations were great, this last one I will never forget. As I came in, they greeted me with two towels soaked in ice water for my head and neck, dipped my hat in ice water, and gave me two otter pops. What a great feeling it was. Special thanks to this aid station crew!
After leaving the last aid station, we had to run four miles along a pretty flat hiking/biking trail, including about a half mile along pavement into Eden, Utah to cross the finish line. I crossed the line in 6:09:33 for 31 miles, 6K feet of elevation gain, and an 11th overall finish. All said and done, I was happy with my day. I felt relaxed most of the run and it helped me get a better feeling for where I was at in my preparation for next months race. Mission accomplished!
I have to say, I was really happy with this race. Everything from packet pickup to finish line activities was extremely well organized. I don’t often run races more than once (with a few exceptions), but I could see running this one again. If you are looking for a nice, runnable 50K with a local feel, I would definitely recommend this race. Here are some of the key points!
- So many aid stations! With one every 3-6 miles, I could travel light and not worry about water, even in the heat.
- Gain is front loaded, which means you knock out all of the hills while the legs are fresher. This actually helped me get my first ever negative split.
- The course is clean, well-groomed, and super runnable.
- Tons of raffle prizes from sponsors for the finishers, almost everyone got something this year.
- The last four miles of the course run along a pretty terrible trail along the shore of the Pineview Reservoir. Unless you want to run road, this is really the only way to the finish line, so I guess it could be worse. At the same time, the first 27 miles more than make up for it.
Thanks to my friends and family for their continued support. Thank you to the crew and volunteers of the Skyline 50K for a superbly run event. Lastly, thanks to all of my sponsors for enabling me with the best gear ever. Please show your love and check out my “What I Use” page for discounts on everything that I use and trust! Here is what I used.
- Topo Athletic MT-2: My favorite shoe in training and on race day.
- Injinji Trail 2.0 Mini-Crew: No blisters here.
- Orange Mud Vest Pack 1: Light, with enough room for the water and food I need to get me from one aid station to the next on race day.
- Headsweats Go Hat: If you wear hats on race day, there isn’t a better one out there.
- RAD Roller and Rod: I always need to take care of the muscles after a great run.