Watershed Preserve 12 Hour
May 21, 2011
By Susan Worden
So, this was my second attempt to actually go an ultra distance at this particular ultra event. Strictly speaking, I made it. Barely.
The WP12, short for Watershed Preserve 12 Hour, is a lovely all day event held in May of each year at the Redmond Watershed Preserve in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. It’s a little bit of wilderness in the middle of the city where you are apt to come across horses, deer and the occasional black bear. However, this year it was pretty quiet and the most I came in contact with was of the slug and insect variety. The venue consists of horse trails, some gravel road, some double wide trails and some single wide trails. The course is a very reasonable 5.375 miles which consists of a bigger 4.655 mile loop and a smaller .72 mile loop. I suppose for some the familiarity may breed a bit of contempt by say, hour 10. But for me, it was comforting to know that it was only a tad over 5 miles to get back to my camping chair, and bathroom facilities that didn’t require checking for poison ivy prior to use.
I am not an experienced ultra runner, nor do I consider myself an ultra runner. I actually feel most comfortable in the 10 – 16 mile range. And though I really enjoy trail running, my confidence is not yet where I’d like it to be when there are rocks and roots and uneven ground. So, you are probably wondering right now why I would do this event. I am still wondering that. Basically, it comes down to influence. I am easily influenced by other runners. It is something I’ve had to come to terms with as a runner. I can be talked into signing up for just about any running event. In this case it was the “Hey, you can do a 50K! You have 12 hours.” And of course, there are my friends and running compatriots who signed up and said: “Just because we signed up doesn’t mean you have to.” This of course means I have to. Basically it comes down to….why not. As we all know, running is 90% mental. So, what better way to show some bad assness then by signing up for a 12 hour?
The beauty of this race is that it’s 12 hours. You can do whatever combination of run/walk/crawl that you want during those 12 hours. You can run for mileage or you can see how many miles you can get in during the 12 hour timeframe. You can go out and run a loop and then have breakfast, run another loop and take a nap, run another loop and spend the rest of the day encouraging everyone else to get back out there and run. Or, as many do, you can run for 12 hours with little more than an occasional pit stop at the bathrooms and aid station. It is truly a good event to test your abilities and push the limits.
The day began for me at 4:30am with my usual race anxiety. I got up and got myself ready to go. I drove to my friend’s house and we carpooled to Redmond. We got checked in and picked out our extra race goodies. We were then shuttled to the race start and set up our chairs and got our bags situated. Then promptly at 7am after a short announcement by Co-Race Director Tom Ripley, we took off running. The trail was in good condition, especially the little loop. It had been covered in mulch and was soft and lovely to run upon. The day threatened to rain, but stayed pretty dry. All in all, good running weather. Everyone spread out into their pods pretty quickly, chatting as they ran along. Getting in some conversation now before the tired set in. I love listening to runners talk about running. What races they’ve done, are going to do, and will never do again.
My personal race day had its ups and downs. It was one of those lesson learned type of days where I realized that I should have brought a lot more stuff with me. But I also ended up dealing with an ongoing foot/ankle issue that just wasn’t going to let me stay out on the trails all day. So, though I had a fantastic start to the day, I ended up having to walk a good deal. Luckily for me though, I had my running compatriots and friends Morrie and Zale to hobble through 2 laps before Morrie left us at the starting line and took off to get her 50K+ in for the day.
I highly recommend this event. Race directors Chris Ralph and Tom Ripley make sure you get your monies worth as they encourage you to “get back out there, you’ve got more time.” The volunteers are wonderful and they make sure you have everything you need when you are in that oxygen deprived state of total fatigue. The photographers at the event take fantastic pictures that make us all look good. And, of course, the people who were out there on the trail with me are fantastic. Everyone is completely encouraging and genuinely friendly. Never has a community been more accepting than the running community. Especially the ultra trail running folks. I just really love this group of people. And what they can accomplish out on the trails is truly amazing.
Will I do this event again next year? Most likely.