I decided that this would be my start-of-vacation, end-of-my-event-season celebratory race. I’d actually registered for it last year, but was unable to run due to (no surprise) injuries. I’d been running, albeit slowly, for 3 weeks leading up to the 2015 Paramount Ranch Trail Race, so decided that I would try to complete it. Naturally, I’d originally registered for the full marathon a few months ago. A 26.2 mile run was not going to happen, but the 10K seemed too short for such a long drive, so I opted for the half marathon.
Paramount Ranch, located in Calabasas, was used as a “movie ranch” after being purchased by Paramount Pictures in 1927. The 2,700 acre ranch was part of Rancho Las Virgenes, a much larger chunk of land which now includes Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Westlake Village, and parts of the Santa Monica Mountains. The diverse landscape of the ranch provided filmmakers with a buffet of film locale options – i.e. Paramount Ranch could be turned into whatever distant place the filmmakers wanted to set their scenes in. When I walked into the main ranch area, a collection of wooden buildings greeted me and I felt like I was walking into an old Western movie!
This event offers 10K, half marathon, 30K, and full marathon distances. I should put quotation marks around each distance however, because the 10K loop is only about 6.25 miles and all of the distances are 2-4 loops. The packet pickup took place inside of a larger wooden building and the start/finish line was right outside of it. Runners would run right through the S/F upon finishing and starting loops. I’d heard that the course was friendly toward non or beginner trail runners, so I wasn’t overly worried about the hills. I was more concerned with completing 13.1 miles, as I hadn’t run that distance in a few weeks.
I arrived with a little over an hour until the 7:00 am start and sat in my car with the heater blasting full bore until about 6:30am. The outside temperature was 27 degrees, putting this race in the top 5 of coldest I’d ever run before. “I should’ve brought my ear warmers” I thought as I put the second technical t-shirt and gloves on. I jogged over to the packet pickup and was delighted to receive a really cool cotton long-sleeve top with a hood – a nice difference from the standard technical or short sleeve cotton t-shirt offerings. After letting the timing company know that I was going to run the half marathon instead of the full marathon, I jogged back to my car to drop my race items off and pin my bib on, and then hit the bathroom one last time before heading to the start line. Everyone was huddled up in the warmer building until Keira, the race director, began her instructions outside by the start line.
We set off at 7:00am and I was hoping I would warm up within 5-10 minutes. The course takes to a single track trail pretty quickly, and since we hadn’t yet spread out, it felt crowded and like I was running on someone’s heals. Within about 2 miles, I had enough room in front of and behind me to feel comfortable, but I wasn’t completely alone. My breathing and body felt good, but I was still very cold. There was a younger runner in front of me in just a t-shirt and gloveless! I considered asking him if he needed gloves as I had an extra pair in my car, but let him get too far ahead of me. My goal was to complete loop #1 at a comfortable and sustainable pace, and feeling confident that I could complete loop #2. If I felt good enough, I would pick up the pace during loop #2.
Right after coming through the start/finish line area for the second go-around, I heard a woman’s voice ask me about Boston 2 Big Sur (I was wearing my 2016 B2B tech tee). She had been ahead of me for most of the first loop and I’d passed her right after starting #2. We both expressed that we were happy to have a friend during the rest of our races – half marathon for me, 30K for her. Jenny had recently complete her first Ironman and I asked her a ton of questions about it. We learned that her birthday was the day after mine and that we both hated gels, gus, blocks and all synthetic endurance race energy sources. We parted when I finished my race, and she left for her third and final loop. Reviewing the results now, I wish I’d finished a bit faster, as there was a woman only seconds ahead of me. I was so grateful for the conversation during the second loop though!
Despite this being a smaller trail race, the finisher’s medals were really nice. All runners also received an additional ceramic medal, which looked to be handmade. I grabbed some snacks and my free beer before heading to my car to change into warming clothing. The results were posted old-school, printed out on paper and taped to a wall, so I knew it would take a while for the half marathon results to be posted. I jogged back and learned that I’d placed 4th overall female and third in my age division. I was happy with this having run very easy and with such spotty training. I wanted to wait for Jenny to finish, but was feeling colder by the minute, so I left.
Regarding the course and its difficulty rating, I’d label it as a 3/10 on the trail scale. It was definitely do-able by a very novice trail runner. There were single track sections, and one particularly rocky part, but the inclines were small and trail entirely navigable. Overall, I was very impressed with this event and will run it again in 2016 if the dates align well with my work events and winter vacation. The single downside to the Paramount Ranch Trail Run was the weather, which is easily manageable with warmer gloves and ear warmers. I registered for another of Keira’s race, the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon in March, and expect another A+ trail race experience!