by Jeff Browning
Two weekends ago, I had the ridiculously good fortune to watch Patagonia Ultra Runner Jeff Browning put on a display of trail running zen mastery at the San Diego 100. One could not ask for a better experience and the fact that so many friends had gathered for the event made it all the sweeter. Patagonia runners Krissy Moehl, Luke Nelson, Roch Horton, and Ty Draney joined Jeff and the other 150 souls brave enough to toe the line for 100 miles of dessert scrub, buff pine forests, intense heat, dust, wind, poisonous snakes, technical down hills and endless grueling climbs that make this a five-star, class-A event. A special thank you is definitely due to Scott Mills, the Race Director, and the dedicated crew of San Diego Rats who know how to put on a great old-school race that should definitely be on every serious runner’s list. Read on to hear the story of Jeff’s record-breaking journey in his own words. I guarantee you’ll be inspired. –George Plomarity, Patagonia Grassroots Sales and Marketing Rep
Stonewall Peak at mile 60ish of the course. We went up and over this bad boy. Photo: Jeff Browning Collection
Where do I start. Wow. What a day. I truly had “one of those days” where it all clicked. I’m SO pumped to have PR’d on a technical course for 100 miles. I can’t say enough about the race itself. Super-well organized, well-stocked, well-marked and hot and technical. Fun course.
The course is held 40 miles inland in the mountains east of San Diego. There is 15,800 feet of elevation gain. The course is known for being pretty technical, exposed (no trees) and windy. June is usually hot, typically in the 80s and windy on the ridge, and 90s in the canyons. The hardest part is that, after mile 15, you NEVER, ever have shade until 72 miles into the race. The course starts and finishes at Al Bahr Campground on Sunset Highway and does a loop SW and then connects to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and runs north hovering on a ridgeline between 4,500 and 6,000 feet overlooking the Anza Borrego desert to the east. The course then heads west and down into Noble Canyon (the hot part of the course) for a figure eight loop and back up Green Valley to the ridgeline and the PCT. Then a northern loop along the shore of Lake Cuyamaca, over Stonewall Peak and then down the drainage paralleling Hwy 79 as it descends toward San Diego, then back up to gain the ridge (at mile 51/80) and take the PCT back 20 miles south to finish at Al Bahr.