TNF Endurance Challenge 50M San Francisco

The great thing about this race is that it brings in the A-List of global talent and tries to bring many new runners to the trails thanks to a presumably healthy promotional budget.  The course incorporates quintessential classic trails like Pirate's Cove and the Dipsea with a forced jumble of out-n-back and repeated trails.  It is unfortunately an event that tries to be too much by combining the 50M with a 50K, Marathon, Marathon Relay, and Kid's Run on the same day which may affect the route decisions.  However, this course could worthy of a Championship Marin event with a few tweaks.

The route begins at Fort Barry and quickly approaches the first climb on the Bobcat Trail, a wide meandering fire road.  Once at the top, runners descend down Rodeo Valley Trail, passing near the start, then climb the Miwok Trail, a short .7 mile climb, then descend down into Tennessee Valley on Old Springs Trail.    the big "miss" here is not working in the SCA Trail.

From Tennessee, the route picks up on the Coastal Trail along Pirate's Cove, Coastal View, then above Stinson to a turn-around at McKennan Gulch.  Here is where the route gets jumbled.  The out-n-back along a narrow single track on a side slope is no fun.  Racers are stepping to the sides of each other for the 4 mile stretch. 

The break on this comes on the Matt Davis descent to Stinson Beach.  The route picks up on the Dipsea through the redwoods then to the wide open fields near Cardiac Hill.  Next the route drops into Muir Woods along Ben Johnson, then takes a unique twist near Alice Eastwood Camp before climbing up the Lost Trail to Panoramic.  

A sweet downhill follows to Muir Woods then a nice flat cruise along Redwood Creek trail to Muir Beach.

The slog up the Coastal Fire Road  is a real grinder (especially if it has rained).  Here is the final stretch of the race where most runners probably are just thinking about getting to the finish.  The course drops into Tennessee Valley before working up Marincello, a long but steady fire road and nice time to fuel up prior to the last downhill on the Rodeo Valley Trail then quick road stretch to the finish.

 

 

 

Map

Total distance: 50.01 mi
Total climbing: 14692 ft

....a better route

Total distance: 50.14 mi
Total climbing: 14672 ft

Route Tweeks

Here are some bullet points on why this route could make this a championship worthy course.

Start: Change to climb up Coastal Fire Road then connect with SCA Trail.  This change provides runners (and photographers) awesome views of San Francisco in the darkness.  Next, descend Bobcat before linking with Miwok and Tennessee Valley.

From Tennessee Valley, the route stays the same, but by adding some distance before, may allow runners to see  Pirate's Cove during sunrise (and offer another great photo-op that is otherwise run in the dark). Then continue up Coastal View.

An interesting change would be to divert along the TCC Trail before Pantol, then climb Bootjack, and descend Old Mine (another postcard view), the continue Matt Davis to Stinson Beach.  Then link back to the original route until Muir Beach.

From Muir Beach, rather than grind up a protracted fire road from Muir Beach, go up Middle Green Gulch.  Then link with the original route along the Miwok to Tennessee Valley and finish as usual.

 

 

 

 

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