SKYLINE STORY: Todd Gleiden remembers his first 50k at Skyline.
2013 was the year for my first marathon and 50k, so I thought. I broke my knee cap on the GoldenGate Bridge and deferred Skyline 50k until 2014. Well, a heart attack got in the way that year so I showed up ready to go in 2015. I remember Adam the race director saying, “Oh you’re finally going to do it” and I did. It was my first 50k and I hadn’t even done my first marathon yet.
It was a bit emotional for sure. I have completed Skyline 4 other times. Skyline hooked me and changed my life for sure. Now with 58 ultra marathons under my belt, I am looking forward to my first 100-miler soon.
SKYLINE STORY: Philip Dangler recalls in verse his first 50k in 2014:
Trained with my kid in a jogging stroller for it.
We did the Saturday morning trail runs with LMJS.
Knobby tires on the back of that sucker.
Was my 40th birthday present to myself,
SKYLINE STORIES: Carol LaPlant – a founding runner (11 finishes), inspiration, and East Bay Ultra Legend who joined us, again, in 2021 to run with another legend, Mama Lisa.
I first ran Skyline in 1981, when it was the Zephyr 50K, a point-to-point starting in Richmond and finishing at the golf course by Lake Chabot. Over the years, I ran Skyline twelve times, usually placing. I am now in my 70s and unable to run after a knee replacement in 2015, but I hike because I still love being out on the trails.
In 2021 Skyline included a half marathon option, which I happily entered with my old friend Mama Lisa Felder . We started early, and it was magic to pin on a race number again. The half marathon course was a truncated version of the Skyline course that I knew so well. I was thrilled to be hiking as fast as I could up the long climbs and getting cheered at the aid stations staffed by other Skyline veterans. How I’d missed this beautiful, timeless race and the community of ultra runners! Savor it.
EDITOR NOTE: This is the first installment of Skyline Stories, a series of anecdotes from athletes who have taken part in this classic race over the years. This Story comes from Kristina Randrup our 2022 F-1, returning to defend again her title. I have a long story about Kristina and her mom for another Skyline Stories – RD Outtake sometime soon. Now, Kristina (pictured with her dad in 2017 and in 2019):
In 2017 I ran my first ultra, my first Skyline 50k. I hadn’t planned on running an ultra that summer; honestly, I had never planned on running an ultra. I only signed up a week or two before the race, or rather my mom signed me up for it. I remember telling her that ultras are dumb and bad for you and I still wanted to get faster and running an ultra would ruin that. After a quick (very quick) deliberation with myself, I told her to sign me up – I wanted to go for it, because why not?
The night before the race my parents warned me that “it wouldn’t be like a cross country race” and I “wouldn’t be running the whole time”. With zero experience in racing anything more than 15k and no experience ever running over 20 miles (done the weekend before, definitely not the way to taper, but I didn’t know any better), I shook off their warnings and confidently told them I thought I could run 4:30. My reasoning was that I can comfortably run 7:30 pace but throw in some hills and more miles, 8:20ish pace sounded reasonable. Again, I knew nothing.
Then came actual race day. I still didn’t know what I was doing, but it was time to run whether I knew what I was doing or not. I don’t remember much of the race. I remember feeling pretty good most of the way, but also having no idea of how I should be pacing myself or fueling. I remember the last three miles of that race extremely well. I was climbing up to the final aid station, and after having consumed no calories throughout the previous 28 miles (would not recommend), I eagerly grabbed a cup of “sports drink”, downed it, and ran off. I remember the aid station volunteers asking if I was okay. I think I said yes, but I might have also been a bit wobbly at that point (again, would not recommend consuming no calories). As I had stopped to grab that cup, a guy I had been on and off with the previous few miles cheered me on and said something about how we’d hit sub-4:30. That got me moving again and I had that goal with me those last three miles. Those miles were hard. I don’t even want to know how slow I was moving. Lots of folks out there kept asking me questions about what event was happening or if there was a race and I think I just glared at all of them.
In the end, I crossed the line in 4:28:29 – 31 whole seconds to spare! And second to YiOu Wang! (My dad tried to tell me about her numerous accolades but I was unimpressed and didn’t know what any of her accomplishments meant. In hindsight, I am so honored to have raced with her.) In the few hours after the race, I didn’t think I’d run an ultra ever again, but something brought me back the next year. And the next. I feel so lucky that this race has been such an important part of my running career. This summer will be my 5th time at Skyline – I know so much more now than I did in 2017 and have a lot of big dreams for this sport, but the community, history, and personal story attached to Skyline is something I just can’t seem to give up.