Since moving to the greater Issy Alps area in 2017 I wanted to complete the Chirico Tenpeat event. The race has developed quite a reputation among my circle of trail running friends and it struck me as something that I needed to do as a rite of passage. However, other races, notably Lake Sonoma and the Boston Marathon hindered me from toeing the start line. This year however, I planned to run the tenpeat after the Boston Marathon, even if my legs were not fully recovered.
Unfortunately I suffered from some form of food poisoning at the Boston Marathon this year which resulted in a rare DNF. The day leading up to the marathon I was vomiting every hour or so and was unable to digest any calories. Despite being very tired and weak, the morning of the race I managed to eat breakfast so I thought I would give the race a try. My driver could not find the start line, so I started in a later wave, but it actually allowed me to time trial the course. I managed to click off some quick splits and keep my time similar to 2021 through the first half marathon, but unfortunately my stomach started to turn and by mile 17, I dropped to the ground vomiting. I walked to the medical tent and ended my race at mile 17.5. Therefore, Chirico Tenpeat this year was not only something that I wanted to do for the past seven years, but also redemption from a disappointing Boston Marathon.
The Chirico Tenpeat is a yearly event that takes place on the last Wednesday of April. James Varner pioneered the event in 2012 and Jess Mullen does an excellent job hosting the event each year. The premise of the challenge is to do ten Chirico Trail out and backs to Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain. Each out and back is about 3.6 miles with ~1,660 feet of climbing. Each year several dozen runners come out to do a few laps or the illusive ten laps. There have been some very impressive efforts over the years but I had my sights on a sub eight hour effort. I knew this would be ambitious when I was feeling 100%, but almost impossible coming off a bout with food poisoning and 17 hard miles at Boston. But I wanted to give it a try.
The weather forecast called for a warm and sunny day, which was the opposite of what I was hoping for two main reasons. First, I prefer running in cloudy to rainy conditions with temperatures below 50. Second, I knew a nice day would bring lots of the people to an already extremely popular trailhead. I tend to avoid Chirico trail at all costs because it attracts the most people on Tiger Mountain and navigating the trail can be tricky when there are hundreds of people on it. Despite my concerns, I awoke early Wednesday morning and dad and I braved the Issaquah Hobart traffic to the trailhead.
Conditions at the start of the race were ideal, overcast with temperatures in the low 50s. I capitalized on this by hike/jogging to the knoll in about 28 minutes. I utilized trekking poles to save the legs for later repetitions, which is a strategy I often employ on long races. I was treated to distant views of Mount Rainier and the Issaquah Valley, but did not stop to enjoy them, I was on a mission. I let gravity do the work on the way back to the trailhead and finished my first lap in 48 minutes. This meant that I was on pace to run 8 hours even, but even after the first repetition, I knew this was was an unlikely result. I forewent carrying my hydration pack until the third lap, which may have been a misstep which put me at a deficit early into the challenge.
I finished the second and third laps in about 50 minutes, roughly 29 minutes up and 21 minutes down. It was great to see so many friends, my dad was on the trail doing one lap, Scott Sowle was scouting for the Run for Shoes 50K, and Dan Bucci, Trevor Griffith, Rich Leggett, Sim Ashworth, and Kevin Wolf were all doing repeats. The weather started to heat up into the fourth and fifth laps which I managed to do in 52 and 51 minutes respectively. I took a little more time at the aid station between the fifth and sixth lap to refuel and decided to loose the shirt and just take the hydration vest. The stomach started to turn a little and the Chirico trail started to become a little monotonous. It is safe to say that by the sixth lap, I stopped having fun and started to go to work.
By the sixth lap the field thinned out and some people dropped to go to work or just decided to pack it in for the day. This allowed me to fully assess the competition. I noticed that Dan Bucci and Trevor Griffith were running very well and seemed to be limiting the distance I had put on them in the first half of the tenpeat. My sixth lap took 63 minutes and I was getting worried that I took on this challenge too soon after the Boston food poisoning debacle. Before starting my seventh lap, Scott helped me out with gathering some calories and applying some sunscreen. Unfortunately the extra time spent at the aid station bled into my lap time and my seventh trip took 68 minutes. By this point the sun was high in the sky and temperatures climbed into the low 70s. This essentially felt like 100 degrees with my cool weather acclimated body. Before starting the eight lap I texted Apryle to let her know I was down to three to go.
Lap eight also took me 68 minutes and on my way down the mountain I passed Dan Bucci in what seemed to be 20 minutes behind me. However, it appeared to be Trevor Griffith that was charging his way up the mountain and bridging a large gap to Dan. I took a long break at the aid station before the ninth lap and it took me 73 minutes to finish drag my self up to the knoll and back, my slowest time of the day. I knew I had to fend off a charging Trevor Griffith on the last lap so I mustered the energy to pick up the pace. On the start of my final lap, I saw Apryle descending and we could not figure out how we missed each other on the previous lap. She cheered me through the opening rocky climb and then went back to the finish to await my arrival.
I reached Poo Poo Point for the final time in 9 hours and 30 minutes and it took me 19 more minutes to get back to the finish in order to stop the clock at 9:49. I was worried that Trevor would catch me the whole way down, but he ended up finishing roughly 11 minutes behind. Dan Bucci rounded out the top three with yet another solid effort. Both Dan and Trevor have finished multiple tenpeats, so it is an honor to join their ranks as a tenpeat finisher. Overall, I was fairly happy, I wished I could have run a more even effort and hit a faster time, but I feel that way about every one of my races. Thanks so much to Jess and volunteers for putting on a great event. Thanks to Scott for your help and as always thanks to my Dad and Apryle for the support.
Total Distance: 36.68 miles
Total Vertical: 16,807 feet
Total Time: 9 hours 49 minutes 46 seconds
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