Foothill Flyers Race Reviews
Last update March 1, 2018
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25K course map

Bulldog Trail 50K/25K
    Photo Tour of the course

Last Saturday in August, Malibu Creek State Park.
    50K Start 6:30 AM and 25K at 7:30 AM.
No race day registration. Limited to 275 combined entries.

App and info: Click on Bulldog above.

Starts with very challenging 4 mile 2500 ft climb on a fire road to Castro Crest but worth it once you get on top and start on the Backbone Trail. Good trail shoes are necessary on the single track Backbone Trail. Most all the rest of the course are on jeep roads. Great views to the West San Fernando Valley on one side and Malibu / Pacific Ocean on the other. Then a long downhill back down into the park to the finish for the 25K or a second loop for the 50K. To enter the 50K you must now qualify. It has been very hot in the past so carrying a waterbottle or Camelback is manditory, salt and energy food is suggested. A light lunch is provided at the finish, but we usually go to the Pier View Cafe in Malibu to relax after.

Catherine Gallagher describes her 2011 experince:
If you've never done a trail run, know that it is whole different animal than street running. Different muscles come into play; you are climbing, descending, avoiding all kinds of obstacles, and constantly balancing on uneven terrain. To me, trail running is more like hiking on steroids. Bulldog was no different. A fellow runner called it the "Bulldog shuffle." Run a bit on the flats, trudge as quickly as possible up hill, and run gingerly downhill to avoid a wipeout. Don't get me wrong; there ARE people who can run the whole course, including some famous ultra runners in this race. It was amazing as I was plodding through the last miles of my 25k to have a few of those elites blow past me on their way to completing a 50k! Gives one a whole new perspective on how amazing they are.

Nice to share the event with some other Flyers. John Radich carpooled with me on his way to the 50k, and Mark Ryne was crewing at the end.

I guess the obvious highlight of this day was the heat. The trails for Bulldog have miles and miles in near-full sun, and even in the morning the heat was brutal. About mile 5, I was beginning to think I might have to call it a day at the next rest stop. Was feeling dizzy, and there was still more hill to climb. I stopped at one of the few shady spots, took a salt tablet, drank water, and rested a bit. Never had to take salt or rest that early in a race! But, it seemed to work and I went on my way, albeit a little slower than before.

The rest stops were well stocked, but (due to the terrain), spaced pretty far apart. This was, more than any other race, a test of conserving resources properly. I lost one of my 4 belt bottles after rest stop 2 and was concerned. I had been downing water like crazy and now had to be a little more cautious. Sips not slugs. But who knows, maybe it was better for me to drink this way.

Each stop had an extra bonus I had not seen before; people standing by buckets of ice water, dousing any runner who asked with a shivery cold fountain down the neck and back. At the first stop, I shunned it. Why would I want that shocker? At every other stop I sought it out. Also asked for my hat to be drenched in the cold water. It was a lifesaver. The views were astonishing. Once up on the hillcrest, you can see miles and miles of hills and forest on one side, and ocean on the other, and you get to stay on that hillcrest for quite some time. My little pocket camera couldn't do it justice. Maybe no camera could. Just soak it all in and enjoy.

Cross a stream, then back to flat ground at rest stop three. 2.2 miles to go... Whew! Not even a training circuit distance! Except about a mile of that is back up another hill to get to the finish. No energy by then, and I was thinking about the 50k'ers, who would be at this point and then have to find the grit to start the cycle once again. Amazing. But, for me, once around was more than enough.

Catherine at the finish lineBack at the finish, they started the awards ceremony but then ended it. The race director said there were too many people hurt (heat exhaustion likely) out on the trails that she had to deal with. Yes, it was a tough race. Definitely a very rewarding experience and a test of endurance for my personal record book.

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