Snow Valley XTerra Trail Half Marathon / 21k – Race Review by Coach Steve Mackel
The Sole Runners and most of the on-line marathon and half marathon people I am coaching are in the middle of their training programs. Me too and I decided to kick my training up a notch. I wanted to race this race hard. I did and it was probably the most intense 2 hour effort I have put in over the last few years. Here's my review of the Snow Valley Xterra trail half marathon.
I love all the Xterra races. I love to be out on a trail, in the mountains, by a lake, near a beach, in a desert, wherever they go. Just get me off road. I get recharged by nature. Plus, I love the athletes that participate in these races. They seem a little more hardcore but super friendly. The fields are smaller because I think many people are afraid tripping, spraining a ankle, running up and down big hills or just the unknown that road races don't give you. In fact, I have been reading recent reviews of road races and Many people complain that some are too hilly and could the race director please do something about it. Not every race needs to be on a flat, fast course so you can get a personal record, (PR). Trail race are a great challenge.
The Snow Valley XTerra trail races take place in the San Bernadino Mountains. You start at an elevation of around 6,500 feet and it peaks out over 7,000 feet. There is a little altitude adjustment you have to deal with or maybe it's just the 2.5 mile climb right out of the gate. Either way my heart rate was extremely high the entire race. I didn't wear a heart rate monitor for this race because I knew it would be sliding out of place and I didn't want the hassle.
The course is two 6 mile loops, with a 1k loop to start. It goes up for 2 miles. Most of this section is on a switchback, single track trail to get you to the first aid station and onto the fire road. The next 2 miles are rolling but not too steep. Then comes the downhill but they throw in a quarter mile uphill section just to torture you. The total mileage came in just under 13.1 at 12.7 on my GPS.
The race is very well organized. It started on time. I think you must carry water or sports drink on you in this race. The first aid station is over 2 tough miles from the start and on a warm, sunny day, I would have been bummed if I wasn't wearing a Fuel Belt. The rest of the aid stations seemed well placed.
The medal is great. It is large, colorful and looks classy.
After the race the start the awards ceremony and you get a free lunch consisting of a burger, chips and drink (beer is extra) if you are a participant. Spectators can buy food.
You can drive up there on the morning of the race with on-site registration. The drive is about 1.75 hours from LA and OC. We choose to spend the night camping at the Snow Valley ski resort. it was fun to camp with many other racers but Snow Valley keeps a bunch of flood lights on which infringed on my stargazing.
The bottom line is that this is a well run, difficult race at altitude. They vibe is your typical low maintenance trail runner vibe. Everyone seemed friendly and cool. There are some hardcore athletes but very welcoming of all levels of racers. I would definitely participate in this race again.
My Garmin race data is below. Click "View Data" on the bottom right of the Garmin frame
Train Focused, Steve Mackel - Trail Runner