The author, Krissy Moehl, is an Ultra Runner, Race Director & Coach. She participated in the SLO Ultra 13.1 XC Half Marathon, presented by VisitAvilaBeach.com. Krissy also stayed on hand to cheer on each and every runner until the last one crossed the finish line! To register for the 2017 event, visit www.sloultra.com.
It all began with local radio personality, CJ Silas, lighting up the early morning hours with commentary, Q&A and excited encouragement to kick off the starts of each of the SLO Ultra events the morning of September 10. For the first time ever, runners, hikers and walkers had the opportunity to pick from a variety of race distances and traverse beautiful private lands on California’s Central Coast just outside of Avila Beach, CA. The gates opened on-time thanks to the diligent work of Samantha Pruitt and her enthusiastic Race SLO team.
At 5am there was a coffee cart, gear check, a festival atmosphere, signage and helpful volunteers buzzing around to keep everything rolling. With local spirit on the mic and Samantha saying a few final words to each group as they lined up, each race start, under the big arch, felt like its own event. Once we were out on the trails with the overlaps and out and backs, runners of multiple distances shared hi-fives, smiles and cheers. The weather was perfect and the planning was better. In the event’s first year I still sit in awe of the countless aspects the Race SLO team was able to pull off.
Our half marathon group was the third race to start. Noah Cass and I made sure we started last and ran amongst as many runners as we could. We hiked, walked and ran with short, quick steps up the first climb. I easily slipped into cheerleader/coach mode as I love the effect of the massive group at the start of the race. All of this energy helped distract me from my own tired legs. Fresh off a 100 mile win (and a recovery week in Hawaii) my legs reminded me of the miles still taking their toll deep in my muscles. I ate from the well stocked aid stations like I was running the ultra and heard countless laughs, spirited thank you’s and happy cheers from both runners and volunteers. Everyone was having a great time.
Back at the basecamp, runners were greeted by the Moore Recovery station, Action Wipes changing tent, a hearty Rib Line food truck that fed hundreds of runners and volunteers, the lively Mother Cornshuckers playing blue grass music and an awards ceremony, complete with delicious cherry pies and locally crafted awards. I marveled at the personalized touches, yet ability to take care of hundreds of runners. And all in the first year. As a fellow race director I took notes!
Well after sunset a crowd of race staff and anxious crews stood around the finish line to great the last of the 50 mile runners. The runners with the most time on feet. The most experiences from the day. The runners with the best finish line comments that captured their challenging and rewarding day. Those final hours are my favorite and I find inspiring. I discreetly wipe away tears when I see a runner in complete disbelief hug their crew and relax into their support. Knowing that feeling and loving that they are feeling it for the first time, tugs at my happy heart strings.
Ultra runners make up a special community. I knew it when I found my tribe in 2000 and 16 years later I still feel it. I’ve been lucky to travel the world experiencing it through the ultra lens and I always find, no matter the varying cultures and languages we can all relate to the good intentions of a race director and volunteers, beautiful scenery and what dedication it takes to achieve a goal. Good intentions, beauty and dedication are strong roots for community. All qualities you will find at Race SLO events!
Visit RaceSLO.com for upcoming events and to register today.
Established in 2010 to bring world class sporting events to the beautiful California Central Coast, the Race SLO family of annual events currently includes the SLO Marathon + Half and Family Fitness 5K (Spring), SLO GranFondo (Fall) and SLO Ultra at Wild Cherry Canyon (Fall ).
Come experience the best the California Central Coast has to offer: year-round sunshine, rolling green hills, unspoiled open roads, first class finish lines and more. Come Race SLO: #EnduranceTownUSA!