Diablo Trails Challenge 2016

For most of the half marathons I've done with Brazen Racing, I've only seen Mt Diablo from a distance.  In fact, even when I did the 10K at Mt Diablo in late 2014, I still didn't actually have a chance to encounter the mountain.  This time, I did.  And while I didn't get all the way up to the summit (that was for the 50K folks), the half marathon itself was brutal!

The race begins in Castle Rock State Park and you basically run less than a quarter mile before the climbing starts.  The trail itself is actually more like a fire road, at least for a half mile, but then it does turn into rocks which, on a wet day, could be slippery.  Thankfully, these parts of the trail were exposed to sun and whatever moisture from the previous day's rains dried up.

And finally you run into the first of several stream crossings...

Perhaps it's not the best feeling to get your feet wet this early into the race, basically not even a mile from the start.  Most folks chose to step on some rocks so that their feet wouldn't get wet, but the bold ones like myself charged right on through it.  And that water was cold!!!

About 1.2 miles into the race we reached the first aid station.  These folks will see us again on the way back as all distance pass through this checkpoint.  The stations at Brazen Races are fully stocked, and this one even had a medical crew.

Now we're blessed with some sweet single track and a little shade from the heat of the early morning.  And it was warm, and expected to get even warmer.

Once out of the shade, this is the terrain we'd have to be dealing with.  It's beautiful, especially because of all of the El Nino rains we've been getting.  But the heat.  Did I mention the heat?

Finally, the second aid station!  Gotta hand it to these volunteers.  They hiked out to this location.

Pulling out of the aid station as more runners make their way out of the trees.

Of course, I couldn't help myself.  I was thinking as both a photographer and a runner on this day.  I just really liked the colors!  I wanted to shoot this one wide open, and that meant that the X-T1's electronic shutter had to kick in to compensate for the really bright surroundings.

There was really no way to avoid this one.  Your feet are gonna get wet, regardless of what you do.  This stream ran on for about 100 yards.

Now, the climbing begins in earnest.  About 3 - 4 miles straight up!  This portion obviously took the longest and was the most painful...

Pulling into this aid station, I took the volunteer photographer by surprise, taking pictures of her as she was taking pictures of me.

Here's the photo she took of me as I was taking a picture of her!  All the while climbing up the hill.

Here's a panoramic view of the aid station.  In the distance is some single track.  That's where the 50K runners cross join the half marathon course for about a mile.  This was about mile 10 for the half marathon and mile 16 for the 50K.  It's also a cutoff point for the 50K.  Any 50K runner who doesn't make it to this station by 11:30am, sadly, gets a ride back to the finish line.

A view during the descent back to the base of Mt. Diablo.  Yeah, this might be just a tad blurry as I was running down the hill.  At this point I was tired and hungry and just wanted to get to the finish line.

And finally crossing the finish line.  Finishing strong!

Gear used:  Fuji X-T1 with 35mm f/2.  You can see it hanging off my right side in the above photo.