This weekend we attended the 34th Annual Wild Wild West Marathon that took place in the foothills of Mt. Whitney in Lone Pine, California. A trail race event that has four different run distances; a 5k, 10 mile, full marathon at 26.2, and a 50k marathon. A challenging trail course with some good elevation going from around 5,100 feet at the start, to 6,500 feet on the second peak, all the way down to 3,700 foot elevation to the finish line.
For this trip we joined with Jenny’s friend from her high school, Jerry Yu, who also is a marathon and trail runner. Jerry came to our home on Friday morning and we piled everything into Jenny’s H3 for the drive up HWY 14 and 395 to Lone Pine, we made it there just shy of three hours. It was a beautiful drive with crystal clear sky’s giving us vast desert valley views of the Antelope and Death Valley landscapes. Very noticeable section on the way was the Red Rock Canyons where the hills turned from your standard desert greenish brown hue to a pink, red, and deep orange hue while driving through it. All of which made for a beautiful drive.
Once we reached our destination in Lone Pine, we were just in awe of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the tallest peak of Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet. We had seen it before, but it had been several years since the last time I had been in this area to witness its magnificent views.
Needless to say I was awestruck and humbled by the majestic mountain views.
After quickly checking into our hotel we headed into town to get some food. We decided to grab some lunch at the Bonanza Mexican Restaurant, a diner style place with some Mexican flare. The reviews were mixed on this place, but we were in the mood for Mexican food. Turned out they were vegetarian friendly which was a big plus and the food was surprisingly good, Jerry had a monster wet burrito, Jenny had the fresh veggie burrito, and I had some killer fresh spinach enchiladas.
Afterwards we wandered around town and ended up at Elevation, a local hiking and climbing store which was a like a candy store for us trail runners. A small store overflowing with all kinds of stuff for rock climbers, campers, hikers, and yes…trail runners. Jerry picked up a the latest CamelBak water pack, Jenny got a little lizard critter flash light, and I picked up a book, Extreme Running, which showcases some of the most challenging ultra races throughout the world. The store employees were great, very nice and knowledgeable, plus they were hosting some of the aid stations for the Wild Wild West Marathon.
We settled in early and watched some playoff basketball back at the room. Lakers lost game 3 to the Nuggets…bummer. Anyway, the race starts at 6:00 am, so we got up around 4:45 am to get ready, we were out the door by 5:30 am after having some light breakfast in the hotel lobby. We drove to the start line at Turtle Creek Campground, the weather was set to be clear and sunny with a high of 78° with some mild winds, however that early in the morning it was freezing and the wind made it extra cold. We arrived at the camp ground about 10 minutes before the start, parked, and walked up to the start line just minutes before starting.
The Wild Wild West Marathon start line location was absolutely amazing. The sun was just starting to rise over the mountain tops from the opposite end of Death Valley behind us, as it rose the sun light would cast against the mountains in front of us, hitting Mt. Whitney’s tall rocky peak first. Starting off with a deep glowing pinkish red that turned to orange and golden colors as the sun continued to rise making for an incredibly majestic sunrise to watch as we were heading up the trail. One could not ask for a more beautiful view as your starting a marathon race.
As you can imagine, the gorgeous sunrise onto mountains made for a memorable start to the Wild Wild West Marathon.
There were less than 200 runners for all the runs combined, but everyone started at the same time. The 5k and 10 mile runs finished at the same start line, but the 26.2 mile and 50k runners finished in the town of Lone Pine. The first few miles of were a steady climb facing the beautiful mountain range starting from around 5,100 foot elevation to 6,200, before heading down hill to cross a small creek.
Jenny and I stayed together on the first leg of the course covering the climb up, crossing the creek, the first long downhill section to the point where the 10 mile course forked off at the first aid station. The first downhill had steep narrow trail into the creek. There was a runner at the top of the hill that was struggling with the downhill section, so Jenny grabbed his hand and we helped coach him down the narrow trail. He was not prepared for the sandy trails as he was in a pair of Nike Free Run shoes, but he did pull through and made it to the 10 mile finish line.
While I only did the 10 mile run the terrain throughout the course was constantly changing. It was impressive as we went from desert shrubs to big boulders to pine trees to grasslands to a lush grove. Every few miles it would change. I’m sure the full and 50k marathoner runners saw even more changes in the landscape trails. The whole time I kept on thinking of the old western films and even more of the western video game Red Dead Redemption, one of my favorite video games.
The surrounding areas are famous for being the backdrop for many western films and TV shows, so it made perfect sense.
Before I knew it, the 10 mile course was coming to an end and I could see the finish line. While this was my first 10 mile event, I wasn’t able to run it nonstop, I probably ran about 7 miles nonstop after walking most of the climb up, and then a mix of walk and running the last stretch to the finish line. I was surprised that I finished with a time of 2:31:15. I think I could have done better, but I was pleased with my result.
After resting a little bit and taking a few photos I headed towards the town to get some breakfast to refuel. Jenny and Jerry were running the full marathon that would be finishing in town, they would be finishing sometime around 1:00 pm. For breakfast I went to the Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery and had the Ironman Scramble, a monster breakfast with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and avocado with large side of hash browns. After stuffing my face I headed back to our room to wash up and rest a bit.
Then I went to the finish line in town to watch Jerry and Jenny finish their full marathons. The Wild Wild West Marathon trail course is known to being a one of the more challenging trail courses, so the finish times tend to be a lot longer compared to road marathons, Jerry came in first just under 7 hours and Jenny finished a little while after him. I took them back to the room to freshen up and then we checked out our room (thanks for the late checkout at the Best Western). Then we hit the road to head back home.
Overall it was a very memorable overnight trip for a beautiful run at the Wild Wild West Marathon. Jerry, Jenny, and I had a lot of fun throughout the whole trip and the majestic views made it all the more special for us. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, while it was cold in the morning, once the sun was up it was perfect, nice cooler day with some light winds that made it just right for running. For Jenny this marathon was one of the best trail experiences she had, she loved it. We are definitely coming back for this race next year, who knows, maybe by this time next year I’ll be able to do the full 26.2 marathon distance. It sounds like it’s a beautiful yet challenging course to run.
It was the perfect road trip to the Wild Wild West Marathon!
- Wild Wild West Marathon
- Wild Wild West 10 mile log on dailymile
- Wild Wild West Wallpapers for Desktops, iPad, iPhone, and Facebook
- Trip and run photos on Flickr
- Photos from Jenny on Facebook
- Mt. Whitney on Wikipedia
- Lone Pine, CA on Wikipedia
- Red Rock Canyons on Wikipedia
- Elevation, Sierra Adventure Essentials
- Turtle Creek Campground
- Extreme Running on Amazon