Cougar Mountain Marathon

Cougar Mountain Marathon
Old Larches in Okanogan County

After a nineteen-week hiatus from competing in a race, it was finally time to toe the line once again. It was far from an uneventful break however, in the time between races, I passed my PT board exam, traveled back east to get married, meandered around Peru for a month and then landed my first PT position in Okanogan County.

I decided that the Cougar Mountain Marathon in Issaquah would be the best choice for a tune up race before the IMTUF 100. Although the race location required a lengthy drive across the state, Apryle and I were able to stop in Peshastin Pennacles State Park for some climbing the day before the race, which broke up the monotony of the road.

The past two months I have been focusing intently on vertical gain, time on the feet and a weekly long run. In my first two hundred mile attempts I focused on high weekly mileage without a standout long run, which gave me subpar results. Therefore, in the lead up to my third hundred mile race, I have been altering my approach.

The Cougar Mountain Marathon would serve as a measuring stick in terms of pacing on a hilly course and also serve as one of my weekly long runs. I had run in the area a few times prior when I lived in Seattle, so I was familiar with the trails. However, I have rarely run at Cougar Mountain without getting lost, the race was no exception.

I started out quick to build a lead early, that I could hopefully hold onto throughout the later stages of the race. Unfortunately, I took my first wrong turn about 7 miles into the race and lost my lead. I was forced to back track and reel back in my competitors. I was able to build up a few minute lead before the turnaround section when I was able to see their position on course relative to mine.

Around the halfway point in the race on longer loop section I realized that I made a costly mistake taking only a 17-ounce handheld. I assumed after running in 100+ weather on the east side of the Cascades, I would be well equipped to handle the cooler weather on the west side. Furthermore, I can think of very few times I have even taken water with me on a race as short as the marathon, let alone a hydration vest. But I believe that my abysmal pace in the last few miles was due in large part to dehydration.

Not only was I dehydrated, it seemed that the course was swept in some key areas for the final loop. I took a few more wrong turns, and was forced to use the map feature on my garmin to navigate the course. This worked fairly well and at the final intersection I caught a glimpse of the second place runner who was also having a difficult time navigating the course. I kicked it into gear on the last mile and managed to pull out the win with a few bonus miles along the way.

Cougar Mountain Marathon Map

With the exception of my poor hydration strategy, the bonus miles, and the slow time; I really enjoyed the day. As always my wife was there to support me and cheer me on to the finish. My good friend Adam Braddock was there running the 14-miler and cheering me on to the finish as well. The aid station volunteers were extremely helpful and course terrain, scenery and topography made the entire journey a worthwhile experience.

Cougar Mountain Marathon Elevation Profile

Post race recovery consisted of a 20 mile run on the Tonasket back roads and Carter Mountain Natural Area trails. This was made much more manageable with some company from Apryle on the latter half of the run. In the end I was surprised how well my legs recovered from the previous days effort. Overall I was quite happy with my 26/20 back-to-back and look forward to a few more prior to the hundred miler in mid September.


Training Stats

MonthDatesMileageTimeVertical (ft)Long Run
April3 to 921.365:43:354,0858
April10 to 1649.268:04:115,9187.11
April17 to 2368.6711:01:077,68020.01
April24 to 3047.546:33:284,75020.05
May1 to 768.1410:18:537,80512.63
May8 to 1474.3110:20:529,93716.96
May15 to 2168.639:43:186,95910.07
May22 to 2862.468:54:015,17810.01
May29 to 477.7610:52:513,67516.16
June5 to 1151.9113:13:2112,84412.41
June12 to 1825.829:41:118,4648.99
June19 to 2583.2122:49:5511,53917.43
June26 to 263.148:31:582,98210.1
July3 to 995.5518:31:2913,49426.1
July10 to 1675.5211:33:3810,64318.37
July17 to 2375.7512:51:597,77920.06
July23 to 3089.3617:25:0423,55639
August31 to 661.628:32:2710,64011.6
August7 to 1366.8710:28:2910,88326.25
19 Weeks 1226.88215:11:47168,81139

May 2020 Addition – I decided to add some photographs from our Sinlahekin Wild Apple Hunt, McClaughen Canyon, Whistler Canyon Climbing, Larch Grove, Peshastin Pennacles Climbing, Bonaparte Lake, Beaver Lake, and Beth Lake. I hope to create another post highlighting these places in a little more detail.


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