Vasona Lake Half Marathon: Running, Hiking, Rock Climbing

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The Vasona Lake Run, organized by Zombie Runner Events, is a small local race. It costs $40. The start is about five miles from where I live, so I can sleep in. How to say no?

I didn’t, of course. I headed to Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos this morning, picked up my race bib and was off to run 2013 half marathon number 2.

Now, when I said this is a small race, I meant really, really small. As in, these were all the participants in the half marathon and the five-mile run:Maybe about 50 people for both?

I didn’t see the typical start-line mat when we took off, so for a moment I thought this wasn’t even going to be timed. (But then I saw the chip at the back of my bib – phew. As many road runners, I live by the adage If the race wasn’t timed, it didn’t happen.)

The first five or six miles were nearly flat and on asphalted park roads and I was thinking: This is so easy. However will I hold myself back? [I’m supposed to be tapering, so I actually gave myself an order to do this race in 2:10, no rush.]

Little did I know what was coming!

I like to do my homework before races. Study the course. Analyze the elevation charts. Read reviews. For this run, I could find almost nothing. One review (on Yelp, of all places) said there was a part of the course that was so steep, it pretty much had to be hiked.

So for the first hour of the run, I kept thinking, was this person talking about a different run?

Nope. I soon arrived here:So I hiked.These weren’t even the steepest inclines, which basically felt like rock climbing to me. Let’s just say that we climbed from 330 ft elevation at mile 6 to 840 ft at mile 8.6.
But all the climbing was worth it, because on top of the hill were these views:The final aid station and turn-around point was at the bottom of a hill so steep that I was scared to run down, so I walked:Of course, what goes up must come down — and vice versa — so after hiking up that last hill, there was a looooot of running down at top speed making airplane arms and shouting Wheeeeee!

I made it to the finish line a little past 2 hours 11 minutes — a pretty slow pace, so I was quite surprised to see I placed third in my age group: Quite possibly, I was one of three women aged 30-39 and came in last.

This race was a lot of fun and I’m glad I did it. I wasn’t looking for a PR or a big-race shebang, so it was just what the doctor ordered. If you live in the area and are looking for a budget-friendly, part-trail part-road race, put it on your list. But don’t expect a fast time. The course records are 1:23:26 for the men (in 2012) and 1:30:34 for the women (2010). I’ll post an update with my official time when it becomes available.

Until then:

8 thoughts on “Vasona Lake Half Marathon: Running, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • May 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Thanks for the informative recap! I’m considering this half marathon (the one in Sept.) as a rehearsal for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Sounds like it just might fit the bill!

  • February 25, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I lived in Los Gatos for awhile when I was little. We moved away when I was in fifth grade but I still remember that park! So fun! What a great place to do a race. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    • February 25, 2013 at 11:20 am

      I love Los Gatos. Such a cute little town! We moved out here from New York City, so the difference in lifestyle is big (and much enjoyed, so far :))

  • Pingback: 2013 Race Calendar | Confessions of a Caffeinated Mother Runner

    • February 25, 2013 at 7:43 am

      They’ll have a race on the same course in September: It was a fun one, I’d definitely do it again but try to get in as much hill work as possible before that and see if I can run the whole time. (yeah right…)

  • February 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    I love all the pics you post from your races! So helpful! So that hill before the turnaround point that you came down and went back up? I think that is called St Joseph’s Hill! Isn’t it a butt-kicker? I have run that with a really tough mom once who ran while pushing her kid in a jogging stroller up that hill! Crazy. As I mentioned on MRTT it’s also the course, partly, for the LG Dammit Run in August. And yes, with a course that has inclines like that part, the overall pace and course records are going to be slower. Just not possible to make up the time with the steep grades. But this is what is so cool about trail running. Every race is unique! Congratulations!!

    • February 25, 2013 at 7:41 am

      Er… pushing a stroller up that hill?!? If I’d done this race with a stroller, it would’ve counted as a marathon in my book! 🙂


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