Sunday June 10, 2012 was the Cougar Half Marathon on the San Pasqual Trail in Escondido, San Diego. The San Pasqual trail is part of the Sea to Crest trail that connects Del Mar to Mt. Vulcan near Julian, CA. The trail is mostly flat for the first 4 miles before ascending 350 ft. over Cougar Mountain and down the backside of Puma Pass before flattening out again for the next half mile. At that point runners hit the turnaround point and have to make the climb all over again. A daunting task indeed!
The day started out FUBAR because the gates to the main parking area that were supposed to be opened were not. Plus they were locked! This sent the Dirt Devil employees into Sherpa mode humping the tents, coolers and everything else required at the start finish area to the set up area about ½ mile away! During all of this cars were lined up for miles on Bandy Canyon road awaiting access to the parking area. Frantic calls were sent to the Police Dept, Fire Dept and parks Dept. to no avail. After much discussion and debate over breaking the locked gate it was decided to simply dismantle the gate with whatever tools we could muster. To my friend and amazing Dirt Devil volunteer Brad “the wrench” Michaels…..THANK YOU! You took that thing apart with skill and poise without damaging it and presto….we had access! The Dirt Devils went into action and immediately started parking cars in an orderly fashion while runners checked in at the check in station. Port-o-John lines were long due to the access issues but runner seemed in good spirits when we announced the race would be delayed by about half hour. Right about that time I received a call from the turnaround aid station Captain. The gate was locked there too! I explained to him help was on the way but that they would have to haul the coolers and tables up the path about a mile! I don’t want to repeat the response but they made it happen. THANK YOU!
The first wave of the Half Marathon was gathered and started 38 minutes late under cloud covered skies. We immediately mustered the second wave and got them started 6 minutes later. As the second wave was released we all breathed a sigh of relief. Now the 5K was corralled and race instructions quickly given before they were counted down. Runners ready….3, 2, 1 GO! Off the 5K went.
The top 3 male finishers were in a close race the entire course. 1st place male was Matias Negatu with a time of 1:36:25. Great time on this very challenging course. I got to give Matias his free pair of Merrell shoes and some pizza at the post race party at Rough Draft Brewing Company. Second place male was Casey Reinl who was a no show at the post race party because right after taking second he jumped in his car and drove his family north to Yosemite National Park! Casey finished with a time of 1:38:21. Great job Casey, I hope Yosemite was awesome too! 3rd place male was Joseph Aldana with a time of 1:39:06. All 3 of these awesome trail runners qualified and will receive invites to the Dirt Devil Dirty Invitational Trail marathon on September 30th and will compete for some cold hard $$$. Can’t wait guys!
The first 3 women overall was a really tight race but1st place female was no surprise. Dr. Celestine Arambulo took first with a time of 1:39:53. Great job Celeste you continue to kick butt and take names. Emily Finager was right on her heels and finished 2nd with a time of 1:40:38. Way to go Emily! 3rd place female was literally right behind Emily with a time of 1:40:47. All 3 of you ladies will receive invites to the Dirty Invitational Trail marathon on September 30th. You Rock! The Dirty trail Marathon is sure to be a close one with you 3 ladies running.
Right about this time the sun started to appear and we knew it was going to be tough out there. We had 7 aid stations in place with lots of FLUID and water but there is little cover on the San Pasqual trail and this time of year the valley heats up fast. 48 runners pressed it and finished under two hours thus qualifying for the lottery that will take place for entry into the Dirty Invitational Trail Marathon. Way to go guys you will receive instructions on how to enter the lottery soon. Congratulations too all runners that finished the Cougar Half Marathon. It is a beautiful but tough course. Having to navigate Cougar Mountain twice is no easy task but you guys were up to it. A special shout out to those of you who finished over 3 hours. Dirt Devil racing has a 3 hour cut-off on all of our Half Marathons. Even though we said you would return to a deserted finish area if you were over 3 hours you persevered anyway. You may not be the fastest runners out there but you are the most determined and for that we applaud you.
The 5K fun run went off only 18 minutes late and was a blast. The 1st place male was Michael Tapia with a time of 17:35. First place female overall was Ashleigh Bordwell with a time of 19:13 followed by two of her running buddies, Jessica Craik and Lauren Padula with times of 20:57 and 20:59 respectively.
All winners received prizes at the post race awards party held at Rough Draft Brewing Company. Prizes were supplied by Merrell shoes, Fluid hydration, Ultimate Direction hydration systems, Injinji socks, SLS compression socks, Road ID and the San Diego Running Institute. Thank you to all of our sponsors. The awards were handed out and pizza was supplied for all that attended by Dirt Devil Racing. I enjoyed handing out the prizes and pizza to all of you trail runners. We hope you enjoyed the pizza and beer, I know we did. We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming races, Coyote 5K and 10k, Sidewinder 5K and 10K, Stairway to Heaven 15K and the famous Raptor Ridge Half Marathon. WE BLEED DIRT!