Squaw Valley is one of my favorite ski resorts, so the location was special from the get-go. When I saw the course – running up to KT-22 and Headwall, the Stairway to Heaven ladder section, descending past Sibera Bowl (my favorite ski run) and then down into the Shirley Lake/Granite Chief area – there was no way I wasn’t going to do this race. This was made for me!
This race wasn’t about competing or hitting a goal pace. It was about being in Squaw, having fun on the mountain, and enjoying it as much as possible. I also did the run with my best buddy Derek, and I wanted us to run the course together. For the first time ever in a race, I stopped to take pictures. I took a lot of pictures LOL.
I will say, even though I wasn’t “competing” per say, I still pushed it and the course was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. Some of the climbs were ridiculously tough. Once you thought you were almost to the top, you would realize you have a long way to go.
Everyone I met during the race were super cool, the people really made the experience. Definitely a different type of person who does trail races like this versus those that do road marathons. I got to run with Lucy Bartholomew's Dad, who was a super cool guy, a very experienced ultra runner and he shared a couple stories. (I didn't know who he was during the race, I found out after the fact, via Lucy's Instagram, and Lucy went on to take 3rd at Western States a week later).
The iconic Stairway to Heaven ladder section and the snow stairs did not disappoint. I took a couple videos of this section, and you can see them in a Highlight called Broken Arrow on my Instagram page @healthmtn_ if you want to check it out. You can tell in the videos that I was just frothing!
The funnest running section was the decent from Shirley Lake. It was a great downhill section on single track surrounded by big granite boulders. This was immediately followed by a tough uphill section up to High Camp, and my heart rate was jacked at like 180+ the whole way up. At the aid station at High Camp, I borrowed a cowbell and cheered Derek’s ass up to the station.
Soon after High Camp, I left Derek and pushed it the last few miles pretty hard, because there is no way for me to not push it on a perfect downhill single track. Derek ate shit on the trail during this section, I didn’t see it because I was too far ahead, but he cut his hand and said it probably looked like he was sliding into 2nd base.
Coming into the finish area, I had it planned out in my head that I was going to RING DAS BELL slam dunk style. I think I was spot on!
And here is what really sent me and Derek over the edge. Most races you get a free beer, and we definitely got ours here. But what we also got was an all-you-can-eat Italian food buffet from Fireside Pizza. When we saw “pizza voucher” we though one slice of mediocre pizza. But what we walked into was like heaven, I had 4 pieces of vegetarian pizza (mushroom, margherita, apple and arugula, and sun dried tomato mediterranean) and a plate of spaghetti, and it was so bomb.
I’m definitely doing Broken Arrow again next year. Maybe I’ll do the 52k. Or maybe I’ll try and race it. Who knows. All I do know is that I’m definitely coming back.
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