Saturday, June 7, 2014

Shadow Of The Giants 50K

Dale Matson

Baz With His Pre Race Instructions and Salty Banter

Baz and Author

For about 25 years Baz Hawley RD has directed the Shadow of the Giants 50K out of Fishcamp CA. The run is in the Sierra National Forest just south of Yosemite National Park. The 50K trail race includes a one-mile loop in the Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias. If you are from Fresno, it is the only ultra where you can get out of your bed, drive up, run it and drive home again in one day. Folks come from all over and there are places to bed down overnight at the Green Meadows outdoor school where the race begins at about 5,000’.

20K Folks Waiting To Start

As our Aussie friend Baz would say, the race is “magic”. He added a 20K fun run a few years ago so old guys like me can still participate. Over the years, Shadow of the Giants has been part of a trifecta of runs in the lead up to the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. The first spring ultra was the “Cool Canyon Crawl” (now called the “Way To Cool”) held in March. One year I jokingly asked at the mile 20 aid station how far Ann Trason was ahead of me. The aid station helper not so jokingly replied, “Oakland”. Then it was the American River 50 held the first week in April. Finally, it was the Shadow Of The Giants 50K. An amazing set of circumstances led to Baz handing me my race number in Australia at the "Six Foot Track Marathon" about 2002. 

Not many of us are still around who participated in the ill-fated 1993 Shadow run. It had poured rain all night and continued into the morning. We started out in rain that changed to snow after about an hour. The trail markings began to disappear as they were covered by snow. At mile 20 I was stopped along with all but the first 20 runners who finished. Some of the aid station helpers had to go to the hospital with hypothermia. Although some criticized Baz for his decision to shut the race down, he did the right thing.

My 20K Route Downloaded From My Suunto Ambit To Movescount

The event drew a bigger crowd this year. Finding a place to park is getting difficult. Many folks in Fresno have discovered ultra running and the trails of Woodward Park have become an ultra training ground. Having the Badwater winner Oswaldo Lopez in the area has also helped. This year I finished just ahead of Oswaldo again but he was winning the 50K and I was …well, trail sweep for the 20K fun run. Oswaldo is in his early 40's and has won seven of his 8 times at Shadow. As usual, it was magic and I was glad to see so many young runners doing this race for the first time. Good luck at Badwater again this year Oswaldo!

Author With Oswaldo Lopez


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