This past weekend I ran the Castle Rock half-marathon organized by Zoom Racing. This is the newest trail racing company in the Bay Area; however, it has its roots deeply imbedded with Coastal Trail Runs. Their courses are meant to be flatter and faster than the more traditional trail running companies; however, the officially inaugural run was more of an intermediate half, with an elevation gain of over 2,700 feet!
Originally, the course was meant to run through the East Bay Regional Parks of Castle Rock and Diablo Foothills before a nice run through Walnut Creek’s Shell Ridge Open Space. However, at the last moment, the supervisor of the park district pulled the permit which meant a nice climb. I was aware of the change before I signed up so it wasn’t a big deal.
I can say though, that this course is definitely a keeper. The course climbed out of the Castle Rock area, up the Little Yosemite Trail, past the China Wall, to the Mercado Staging area in Danville. After that, you followed the Wall Point trail to Rock City, dropped down into the valley for some fun technical and back out to the aid station. After a little more uphill, you face a nice long 5.5 mile run downhill back to Castle Rock Regional Park.
I had a goal of doing this run within 2:30; however, I ran into issues the second half of the run. First I didn’t plan on fuel for the run back to Castle Rock Regional Park. So about 3 miles from the aid station I seriously bonked!!! I had the chills and definitely needed something, besides water. But I was able to manage to get my head back in the game to finish. This was about the time I came across a lovely tarantula crossing the road, which was awesome!! I was also pacing another guy I figured was in my age group (he was actually in the next one up), so we played a little cat and mouse until I allowed him to get a head. I wanted him to expend his energy so that I could drop the hammer the last 100 yards. When I did, my hammy tweaked and I came to a dead stop. Little did I know, my true competition passed me at that point I would end up 2 minutes behind him for fourth place in my age group. I ended up with a respectable 2:37.
I wished there had been an aid station on the second half; however, from a logistics standpoint it isn’t feasible. Also, since the number of people running this race was a little over 50, they had one person manning each aid station which was acceptable, but not what I am used to. I did miss the signature boiled potatoes and salt that you typically find at a Coastal Trails Run, but that was OK.
Overall, Zoom has a nice race here. Like Brazen Racing, you do get a metal at the end of the race. This is a departure from the normal Coastal Trail Runs. The company is definitely in its fledgling stage, but it is under the wings of CTR, which is almost a sure bet it will succeed. Going forward, if they keep up with the strategy of faster and flatter (this race felt more like a CTR race than what they promised) I would definitely recommend them, especially if you are finding that the Brazen Racing run you were wanting to do is sold out.