Posted by: Jen | December 19, 2009

Rodeo Beach Trail Run: A Race Report

Today I joined the lovely folks at Pacific Coast Trail Runs for my first-ever trail race and first 20K. Rodeo Beach is part of the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. The start was at the site of former Fort Cronkhite, an old Army outpost from the early 1900s.

We started right on time at 8:45am and after a short distance along the road, we were on the trail… and going uphill.

And up. And up. And up. I felt like it would never end… I walked this whole section, and it went on for over a mile.

The uphill that would never end

Finally we started heading downhill again, and it really felt like a trail run. However, it only lasted about a mile and a half and we were at an aid station then facing another big hill.

I have to stop and say one thing about the aid stations – AWESOME. They had everything you could possibly imagine and then some. A few of the selections:

Boiled potatoes
Goldfish crackers
Clif Shot Bloks
Salt tablets (for the ultramarathoners, most likely)

Pumpkin pie!

There was other stuff but that’s all I can remember off the top of my head. They also offered water, electrolyte drink, and soda. We hit the first aid station around mile 4 and then it was back to running uphill:

The second major uphill

This uphill went on for closer to two miles. As we passed the halfway point, the fog started to get thicker and thicker, and we came upon a grove of eucalyptus trees.

Gorgeous trees in the fog

It was really cold through this section, but it didn’t last long – soon we were heading for our next challenge, the single-track trails.

Single-track trail

As the fog lifted, the trail changed. We alternated between single-track trail and wider roads where horseback riding was permitted and had taken place recently, based on the hoofprints. One section of the trail was very narrow and skirted the side of the mountain, which brought to mind Bart Yasso’s famous quote: “Running is an affirmation of life.” With all the recent sad news I have received of death (my dear friend, my cousin, and an acquaintance of mine who was friends with my significant other), I needed something to re-affirm that living is wonderful – this trail did just that for me. I felt my dear friend with me through much of the race and it was very comforting.

The narrow trail

What goes up must come down, of course, and the huge downhill section was ahead, but not without a glimpse of one of the most famous vistas in the Bay Area:

The Golden Gate Bridge!

I never get tired of this sight. Shortly after seeing the bridge, we started heading down, and down, and down, but not before another aid station stop! I loved seeing all the goodies. I forgot to mention – they also had bananas and oranges available! It was a regular smörgåsbord!


The downhill really did a number on my toes and knees, but I survived without major incident. The last two miles were flat and scenic; then the race was over! My Garmin said I finished in 2:26:11, not bad considering the major elevation gain and the level of difficulty. I will definitely run with PCTR again; I’m already looking at runs later this winter. 🙂

Here is the data from my Garmin: Garmin Connect

The race, as seen on Google Maps



  1. Great job Jen!!

  2. awesome job! i really want to do a trail run NOW after reading this post. what a great race / experience!

  3. Wow, what a beautiful race. Way to go with the hilly terrain.

  4. Wow, I LOVE the foggy shots. How peaceful. I always enjoyed running in the winter–out I’d go in shorts and a tank. I’m really proud of your accomplishments, Jen. I’ve seen you do so much and now with running. xoxo

    PS: Thanks for the Christmas card! I got it yesterday–brightened my day.

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