Yosemite National Park was the setting for this year’s first Vacation Races half marathon. The race was held on Saturday, May 13, beginning at 6:00 AM.
That’s right, 6:00 AM. The race was run in two heats to accommodate the large number of runners and cars. Since the start line was in a remote area outside of the park, every runner had to be bussed to the start line. No exceptions. The first heat’s runners departed their assigned parking lot at 4:30 AM. I have no idea how many busses it took – but doing the math: 1500 runners per heat divided by 50 seats per bus = 30 busses. That looked about right.
About that 4:30 AM departure – our hotel was only five minutes from the parking lot, so we left at 4:20. Big mistake. So did every other carload of runners, and the two lane highway with a single stoplight at the turn to the parking lot was backed up for a couple of miles. It took 20 minutes to make that 5 minute drive. Thankfully, there were plenty of volunteers to direct the cars to the overflow parking, and plenty of busses to get us to the start line – with about 10 minutes to spare. Not enough time for the porta-potty line. Thank goodness for the bathroom on the bus!
And we were off. The first five miles of the race were on a decent dirt road with only a few muddy spots. Then it was downhill most of the way, with miles 5 – 10 a blur as we floated down the mountain. I say we because I was actually keeping up with Sue! At about mile 10, beautiful Bass Lake came into view, and rolling hills past beach houses and shore-side businesses dotted the course.
Unfortunately, at about mile 10 that hip injury came back with a vengeance. As Sue’s confident stride faded in front of me, I walked the uphills and ran the downhills into the finish line. Even so, I finished in second place in my age division. Sue and I were stopped at the finish line by a cute 20-something who gushed about how inspirational we were and how we’d kept her on pace. We posed for a photo together.
A good reason to return – on a weekday.