Backbone Trail 68, Plus One

The numbers find me.
I was well and truly back in UltraLandia when halfway up Sandstone Peak at 53mi, I'm taking a desperation nap on a sandy flat spot, under a full moon. 

Minutes earlier I’d been lurching from side to side, falling asleep on my feet. I had one more cut-off to meet by 0630, and I gambled I’d be better with a nap than to stagger on and lose an ankle in a chuckhole.


The BBT68 is really a 100 in sheep’s clothing. With over 12,000’ of elevation gain in 68 miles, you won’t go home hungry for vert, and you’ll definitely be running your own race. It was a long day-n-night-n-day; showing that my endurance training was basically correct. After the finish I was walking, rather than stumping. My vain regret was that it took 25hrs. But that beats a DNF. I’ll spend the summer digging a deeper base, and trying for more speed.


The Backbone Trail 68 runs the entire length of the Backbone Trail—from Will Rogers State Historical Park in Los Angeles west to the Ray Miller Trail Head at Pt Mugu SP in Ventura Co. It took over 40 years of hard work and expensive real-estate buys to make this happen. Arnold Schwarzenegger was instrumental in securing the last easement at the Etz Moloy road segment in Ventura Co, spring of 2016. Thank you!


  • Mile 0-25: Feeling bloated from Carbo-Loading on the Jim O’Brien 3-day plan. Its a body-blow that leaves me in Jabba the Hutt Torpor Mode. By Day 3 I’m wanting it to be over. So I started with a lingering headache to boot.
  • Mile 25-43: At Mile 25 I told Jeanne to go, I was holding her back. It had been a relatively fun 25 until then, but I was concerned with my own shallow base. Now its getting up and over Saddle Peak and to Piuma in one piece in the gathering warm.
  • Mile 25-43: Maintaining momentum, husbanding resources. This was my longest race in 18 years.
  • Mile 43-52: After a long climb up to Etz Moloy Road, a steady pace to the base of Sandstone Peak
  • Mile 52-68: Sandstone Peak, then the long, non-giveaway Chamberlin & Blue Canyon Trails. Due to pounding storms this past February, these trails now had deep irregular channels trenched into them, and kind-of filled with rocks and scree. Trouble lurked at every footfall. By contrast the road up, out and to the finish were like runways.


    It just happened to be Heat Day 1 of the season. Had it been really hot like it can get out in the Santa Monicas, there would’ve been fewer finishers. Two weeks earlier it was cold, rainy and miserable. In the Midwest they call it “weather”. Snicker at will, cold n wet states, we’ll try not to laugh too hard when you get the heat.

    By day you are solar-pounded hard, with minimal cover. I noticed that many who’d gone out all in black and/or hatless weren’t visible later on. The night running introduces you to what happens when things aren’t so easy anymore. Most of us instinctively slow down.

    At night there was an inversion—the higher elevations stayed warm.  Low elevation Mile 61 Danielson Ranch was foggy and cold. Climbing up warmed up, then the drop to sea-level finish line was cold, foggy and damp.


    68mi winner Jeff Browning ran the course like it was paved.

    There were only five 100mi finishers. The 100 Contestants got to run the full 61, then tacked on 3 unequal loops out of Danielson Ranch, before doing the final kick to the finish. These loops alone counted for about 5,000’ more, in the last 40 miles. Cutoffs were tight. Several dropped down when they saw how their numbers were trending.


    68 MILE:

    1    Jeff Browning, 45, 11:36:43  
    2    Darcy Piceu, 42, 13:44:05

    100 MILE: 

    1 Tomokazu Ihara, 39, 21:47:13 


Pace and elevation chart. The dips show where I flopped. Nap-time was the deepest.

The map reads from right to left—like the Talmud or Quran.


Jesse P Luna said…
Congrats on the finish, Larry. This race really captured my imagination and I wish I could have been a part of the experience as an observer or volunteer.

Popular posts from this blog

Hello Burnout, My Old Friend


Congrats! You Won The AC100 Lottery!