I set out today to measure and map out the half marathon course for the Leona Valley Trail Races next October. The course is easy to follow. The start is at the Lake Hughes Community Center. There is a fire road to the right of the community center where the starting line will be. You run up the Lake Hughes Truck Trail or 7N05 for 3.4 miles where you come to an intersection with the Leona Divide Fire Road or 6N04. There you make a hard right onto the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and run down the switchbacks 3.3 miles to the aid station at a clearing right before Lake Hughes Road. There you turn around and retrace your steps to the finish line. The course is 13.4 miles, a little long but incredibly close.
Clay met me this morning with his dog Aurora to run the course. We started running together up 7N05. I also wanted to mark the 1.55 mile turn around for a 5k. I kept checking my watch and there was a lookout spot up ahead with an incredible view toward Lake Casitas that turned out to be exactly 1.55 miles. So the 5k is from the community center to the lookout and back.
I left Clay soon after and continued on my own. I have a little problem when I am running by myself. That is, I start to push the pace a little, then a little more, by the time I realize it I am really cruising on the trail. This can also happen on the road or the aqueduct. I started picking up the pace once I got on the PCT. I made it to the turn around in just over 57 minutes, then started back up the switchbacks to the aid station and back down 7N05 to the Community Center finishing in 1:53:35 (averaed 8:30 pace over the mountains. Mile splits: 10:20, 9:05, 8:46, 8:10, 8:36, 8:00, 8:19, 10:12, 9:41, 8:23, 8:06, 7:08, 6:28. Can you tell which miles were uphill and which were downhill?
Elevations are as follows: Community Center 3250ft, highest point 4085ft, and Lake Hughes Rd 3000ft. So there is about 1000ft elevation change every 3 miles! That is an AVERAGE grade of 6.3%.