The courses are an out and back style, boasting of continuous rolling hills surrounding beautiful Lake Sonoma. And though the courses may feel relentless, they favor an ability to connect with other runners, providing opportunity for high-fives and well wishes.
The marathon start is located in the parking lot when you enter the park. The first 2 miles are on a paved county road and will test your legs, as this is your biggest climb of the day. The course will then continue onto beautiful rolling single track trails. You will begin your return trip after reaching the Warm Springs Creek aid station, heading back the way you came, but finishing at South Lake Trail Head (50 mile start/finish). Remember to save some juice for the return trip, as this is a great opportunity to pick up some places! The race starts at 8:00 am.
It’s sneaky hard, so save something for the second half. The hills aren’t major but they are relentless, and take a toll. For most runners, there are three more major climbs in the middle of the race that are walkers. If you’re wiped out, the last 12 miles can go on forever. If you save some juice for the end you will pick up a lot of places in the last two or three hours. The course is 86% single track and 9% dirt roads, with the first 2.4 miles on a paved country road. The race starts at 6:30 am and has a 14-hour time limit.
For the top runners, it’s pretty easy to get sucked into to going out too hard. Somebody will go out crazy hard, and it’s really difficult to let them go. Try to find a balance between being reckless and not being so conservative that you’re never in the hunt. The second half should be a bit faster than the first half, but it won’t be. At best you’ll be maybe 10 minutes slower coming back. Factor that in.