I decided to sign up for the Pt Mugu Trail Race on a whim a few days before. I thought it would be a fun adventure. I wasn’t concerned with time (I never am at trail races), and my goal was to start and finish healthy. The Pt Mugu Trail Race 17k is around 10.55 miles. The area of Pt Mugu is one of my favorites in California, and it’s fun to run on the trails with views of mountains and the ocean. I hadn’t run 10 miles since the LA Marathon, let alone on trails so I wasn’t sure how I would feel.
Before the Pt Mugu Trail Race:
Usually, for races at Pt Mugu, we head down the night before, but after a long day at work, we opted to drive the same day. Driving down went without much note, and we reached the Pt Mugu Trail Race around 7:15 am. We went to grab our numbers, and they couldn’t find me. Occasionally my computer likes to insert my middle initial into my race signups, and it will sign me up as middle initial last name, which they can’t find when they look for my last name. That was the case; luckily, since the race was small, they found me. After that, we hung around until the Pt Mugu Trail Race race started. It was a small race (less than 100 people).
Pt Mugu Trail Race:
I seeded myself towards the back of the Pt Mugu Trail Race, which probably wasn’t my most brilliant idea. I didn’t realize the first 3 miles were almost entirely single-track. I would rather be cautious than not, considering it was my longest run after the Los Angeles Marathon.
The first three miles of the Pt Mugu Trail Race climb about 1000 feet. It never feels “too steep,” and I ran most of it. I was honestly surprised. The Pt Mugu Trail Race climbs 2000 feet, and I expected it to be much steeper. I ran 11:42, 11:50, and 10:28.
At the top of the climb, a volunteer yelled: the course gets muddy. I saw a few muddy spots but was unaware of what would come. The muddy trail was ankle-deep mud, and you weren’t unavoiding it. It was the most muddy race I’ve done yet.
From there, we just went downhill. Down and down and down. I ran that part of the trail when we ran Mugu Peak to La Jolla Valley Loop. It’s a nice steep downhill where you can gain some great speed. I ran an 8:10 mile. Mile 5 of the Pt Mugu Trail Race was uneven and just as steep. I am not great at technical downhill, and I took my time because I didn’t want to fall.
At the bottom of the descent was something I had never dealt with before—a stream crossing. And not just a little stream crossing, but it was above our ankles, and there were no rocks to jump across. Your feet were getting wet. I plowed through and hoped I didn’t fall. I hit mile 5 of the Pt Mugu Trail Race at 9:13.
I knew what came down must go back up. We ran a bit of flat and crossed another ankle-deep stream. From there, we went right back up. This time instead of taking 3 miles to climb 1000 feet, we took about 2. This meant it was much steeper. I was pretty much running alone up. The course was singletrack, and the flowers had overgrown much of the trail. I felt like a true bushwhacker.
As we continued to climb, I felt defeated. It felt like every turn had another steeper incline. It was a combination of singletrack and plowing up the mountain. I ran a 14:56 and 14:20. Finally, we reached the top, and I realized we were returning the same way we came. I was excited for the next few miles downhill, although my legs felt pretty beat up.
Mile 9 of the Pt Mugu Trail Race still climbed on the fire road. Then we arrived back at the muddy section, and I knew it was mostly all downhill from there. The problem with the last 2 miles of downhill was that there were a lot of 10kers and hikers out, so it was hard (and dangerous) for everyone. Some faster runners were plowing downhill and weaving between everyone. The uneven terrain didn’t make it a smooth and fast downhill. I took my time because I didn’t want to hurt myself. I ran a 9:53 and 8:41 last two miles.
I found myself slightly dehydrated. I brought Fastfood (Hydration mix and gels), but ultimately, I only had some hydration. I think that was partially because it was hard to hydrate with the course never really being flat, and I honestly didn’t know about it that much. The last mile felt incredibly challenging, and I felt my mistake.
I crossed the Pt Mugu Trail Race 17k in 1:54.33, and I was happy.
Pt Mugu Trail Race Thoughts:
The Pt Mugu Trail Race is beautiful, and the entire area is. I would love to do more trail races in Pt Mugu since it’s a gorgeous area. I had no goals for the race but to have fun, and I did just that.
You can see more races here and Strava here.
Questions for you:
Have you been to Pt Mugu?
What is your favorite area for trail running?