When I discovered the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon, I decided it would be a fun adventure. The thing about trails is no one cares about your time. I could run a 1:40 or a 2:40, and no one would know the terrain and course. My only goal for the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon was to finish and not hurt myself. I didn’t taper or really put a lot of stock in the race. That’s been my mindset for any trail race. Do it. Don’t hurt myself. Have fun.
Truckee was roughly 2.5 hours for me in Napa. I wanted to see North Lake Tahoe and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. My husband and I arrived the night before.
The Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon is advertised as some of everything, making it extremely hard to choose what shoes I wanted. I ran two miles on the course the day before and ultimately decided to pick the softer North Face VECTIV Flight over the Saucony Peregrine ST. I like Saucony a little better, but I worried how much the firmness would hurt on gravel and the road. (I am glad I made the North Face decision).
The morning of, we got to the race around 7 am and picked up our bibs. It was small, and there were roughly 100-150 people. When it was time to start, the race director blew a whistle, and we were all off with a mass start. I was shocked to have a mass start in California, but it was well within what we could do. I guess it was shocking because it was roughly 16 months since the last mass start I did.
Anyway, the first two miles of the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon are flat. They are a combination of dirt and a road passing. The dirt is soft and smooth. Just after mile 2, you go up a small hill and cross a dam. The view on the dam is beautiful, but since you are on open ground, it’s fairly windy. I ran both miles for around 8 minutes, and I thought, “that might have been dumb”.
Just before mile 3 of the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon, you head into single-track trails. The singletrack is fairly smooth, with some rocks. You start going up the first incline around mile 3.5. There are two 500 foot climbs in the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon, and I believe the first 500 foot climb is harder because it’s more technical. I told myself to just keep trucking along, and I hit mile 4 in 11:30.
Mile 5 of the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon flies down a fairly smooth fire road, and I ran 7:58.
Just after mile 5, you made a hard left. The volunteer warned me it was “rocky.” It was like they had just cleared a path, and there was debris everywhere, from fallen trees to tree bark and rocks. I didn’t really even know where the path was going half of the time.
We popped out of the woods and mile 6 and ran on an old gravel road until 6.5, where we turned around. It was fun to see the faster half marathoners coming back. I saw several women in front of me, but it never dawned on me; they were the only women in front of me. I didn’t see my husband, so I assumed he was already over a mile in front of me and having a good race (he was).
Since the course was short (around 12.78), it would have been easy to move this section of the race .15 or so down the road and make the course a full 13.1. I don’t really know why they didn’t. The gravel was one of my lesser favorite parts of the course but it would have been easy to do.
Just before mile 7, we headed on the next 500 foot climb up. I told myself: “this is the last of the climbing.” Was it? No, but it was good motivation in my head. The second climb was over fire road, so it didn’t seem “as bad.” I ran a 10:06. Around mile 8, there was another water stop, and I grabbed more Gatorade. I stopped (not jogged through) every aid station and drank Gatorade.
Finally, around mile 9 was the part I was waiting for! I waited for the second downhill! I was so excited to just have an easier mile. Then we entered what I dubbed the “rock garden.” It was a technical downhill with a lot of turns and rocks. It was so technical; it was slower than my climb up. I ran a 10:46 downhill and just hoped I didn’t hurt myself.
Around mile 9, a man passed me. It was the first person I had been around in roughly 6 miles. It was nice to know I was going in the right direction. We headed back towards the dam.
The last 3 or so miles were rough for me. They were easier and fairly flat miles of the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon, but honestly, it felt like they would never end. With no shade, we were baking in the sun. The only thing to keep me occupied was the proximity to the Truckee Airport and watching airplanes land and take off. I was counting down the minutes until we were done.
Miles 11-12 were uneventful. We ran on an easy dirt road, and I continued counting down the minutes until the race was over. I was toasted, and it felt like I was crawling back, but I was running at the same pace (8:00) as when we headed out—this time with a headwind.
Finally, around 12.5, we turned right, and I knew the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon would be short. It was advertised as 12.78, but I thought I overheard they had corrected it. Either way, I wasn’t too disappointed to stop running. It was hard, and I was tired.
I crossed in 1:54.05, and the announcer said I was a top 10 lady. I laughed because I was truly shocked. I worked hard, but I don’t consider myself a “trail guru,” nor do I run a lot at altitude (this race was at roughly 6000 feet).
Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon Thoughts:
I enjoyed running and I would do it again. It really does a huge mix of terrain from rocks to grass, roads, technical singletrack, smooth fire road, and technical downhill. It’s honestly impressive how they crammed so much variety into the race. I hope one day they decide to make the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon a full half marathon. I would love to run it again someday: a trail race that spends 6 or so miles around an airport? It’s made for me.
Questions for you:
Have you ever run a trail race?
Have you run the Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon?