Got to the Skyline Ridge about 45 minutes before start time and got registered, got dressed, found a place to drop my bags and 30 minutes of chill time before start.
Start time was in a bit as half & full marathoners and 50k's were asked to line up at the start line. I lined up on the right front side and talked to a guy there who i ran with for quite awhile. His name was Charles from Modesto he said he had run a lot of 50k's, 50M and even 100, including WS.
((Start)) and about 6 or 7 of us were took the lead. There was 5 half & marathoners a 50k guy without a shirt and Charles and i. A couple of these guys went ahead and i decided not to catch them but keeping close distance to the 50k guy. We ran for about 4 miles while i was keeping an eye on the shirtless guy, the others could go as far as they wanted as far as i was concerned. After mile 4 i decided, with Charles' point of view in mind to keep that pace and let the 50k guy go. My water bottle was empty and i was a bit concerned but i knew soon i will get comfortable on the trail. The turnaround came very soon, (6.5 miles) i was comfortable at that point because the 50 k guy was going just a bit faster than Charles and i and i was feeling great at an easy pace. I grabbed a banana dipped it in salt, got a citrus gel and got my bottle filled with water and Charles and i were off. At about mile 9 i started to pull ahead of Charles while still on a comfortable pace and entered into the forest like vegetation. Ran and felt great for a lot of this section. When i got to the next aid station at mile (13.1) i was feeling ok, i filled my bottle with electrolytes, got a banana dipped in salt, PB&J mini, strawberry gel and went off. Charles was 2nd just one minute behind and the shirtless guy was 1st place 50k about 3 or 4 minutes ahead. 2 miles in (15 miles) i opened the strawberry gel and i started to feel my stomach react to it and immediately stopped eating the gel and decided to drink more to help with that. Don't know if it was the gel or my stomach to blame for this. I thought that until my stomach feels better i will drink more. This became true as in mile 17 when i was able to tolerate the nasty tasting strawberry gel with the extra precaution of downing it with a gulp of electrolytes. At about the same time a guy with a water pack passed me and i noticed that he was also running the 50k race. Before the turnaround to my surprise he had taken the lead from the shirtless guy. I got to the aid station (19.6 miles) and got a citrus gel, banana dipped in salt, electrolytes and went off. Charles was a minute back and told me the two guys were 3 minutes ahead. At that point i took my shades off and i took a wrong turn, ran back freaked out and soon found the way as i noticed Charles climbing the hill ahead. I soon caught up to him and soon passed him still on a comfortable pace climbing strong. I had lost an additional 3 minutes on the leaders and about 6 minutes behind. At about mile 20 to mile 22.5 i was alone on the forest very comfortable. I soon had the shirtless guy on sight about 1 minute ahead on a series of climbs. He noticed me and tried to get away on some down-hills but i was just feeling good and he was burned out. I caught up to him at about mile 25 and he said he was cramping. Got to the marathon finish line (26.2 miles) and got electrolytes and went off as shirtless guy arrived at the aid station.
Final 5 miles ahead at 2nd place with a guy right behind me trying to keep up. There were a series of hills and i powered through them to get away from no shirt guy for good. I put 3 minutes on him on those hills. I ran some flat ground for a bit and then saw a small lake ahead and an indian party with a table fully stocked with food. I thought it was an aid station as i asked one of them and received a stare of confusion. I went on and soon noticed a guy i had never seen before behind me running fast. I tried to run faster but he soon caught up to me and said, "i'm not running, you're ok". Then i saw the guy on 1st place up on the hill having a hard time hiking. At this point i was happy with 2nd place but as i climbed the mountain faster than him i started to entertain the idea of me passing him. Just ahead was the turnaround i noticed that the guy who just passed me was pacing the leader and then the unexpected happened. I was first place with 2.5 miles to go. Ran a couple of down-hills and approached the lake with the indian party again and pressed on the same path back to the finish line. Half a mile later i came across a chain of 50k runners one by one all expressing their respects as we crossed paths. One of the guys who, later said he was from fresno, said as he saw me, "right on!, go get it!". Then came a series of small climbs that at that point seem enormous and i felt like hiking them to rest for a bit but i knew that if i stopped i will get lazy and people were going to pass me. I ran a couple of them and then came the toughest one and as i took a couple hiking steps, i saw the guy with his pacer around the curve behind the trees and immediately ran out of sight. I thought to myself, "this is my race to loose. Is now or never. I can't let this slip away". There was no way i was going to stop to rest a mile and a half from the finnish line. Then i powered through the hill and from then on it was flat and down-hill. I increased the pace a bit making sure not to risk injury and then i knew it was mine. 20 feet before the finish line my mind went blank, i could not think of any particular thing in specific for longer than 1 second. Maybe 1 second was a long time at that mental state but i sure was on a different place. Great run, big thanks to Charles for his spot on prediction of the day and race, had an awesome time with him.
Credit to Coastal Trail Runs for the finish line picture.