2016 Bandit 50K race reviews
We asked the following 6 questions:
1) Full Name, Race you participated in, Year you participated, City/State/Country represented
2) What brought you to The Bandit trail run?
3) What was the toughest part of the race (please describe a bit) and why?
4) What did you not like about the race?
5) How would you describe our race to another athlete of your calibre?
6) Feedback about the treats (at early bib pick up) if you got to taste them would also be appreciated!
1. Rob Winterburn. 50K 2015 & 2016. Simi Valley, CA.
2. I wanted to step up to a new distance in 2015 (had run two trail marathons previously) and was familiar with the trails that the race is held on.
3. The descent from the Rocky Peak Trail back to Corriganville is hard when tired and this year I lost my footing and kissed the dirt. But I think the hardest part is the climb out of Las Llajas Cyn - that hill goes on forever!
4. Nothing. You guys do an awesome job. 10 out of 10.
5. It's time to face your inner doubts and prove yourself.
6. The treat from the freezer was excellent. Nice work Sarita
I'll see you and Randy at a future event.
1) Jose Hernandez, 2012, from Los Angeles California
2) 2011 in Ridgecrest California was my first ultra. You were my second which it really kick my butt. I wanted a challenge.
3) The toughest part was the incline the 2 loop around. Man did I want d to give up there yes I did. But I finished it .
4) I like everything and everyone who was there to support all of us.
5) Your race is pretty awesome.
6) I don't know I picked up my bib the day of the race.
1) David Brennan, 50K, 2014, Simi Valley, CA, USA
2) I'd been wanting to do an ultra. I saw an article in the Acorn for the 2013 race. I liked the idea that it would be a local race.
3) In 2014 it was hot for the race. There was one uphill section on the way "out". It was very steep, but for some reason I kept "running" instead of switching to walking. I noticed my HR had climbed to 188. I think from that point on, my race kind of fell apart. I was really hating life on the way from the turn around back to the next aid station (Marr land?) I was seriously considering dropping out at that aid station. But a couple of Canadians decided they were going to finish. So I hung out with them to the end, and we all finished together in just under 9 hours.
4) My preparation. I decided to do a "minimal marathon" training plan, but increased all of the mileage by 20%. It was not enough. Everything about the race as provided by "you guys" was great. The popsicles at the penultimate aid station were the best thing ever.
5) Don't underestimate the race. It's not easy. But it's a great event. It was my first ultra (and so far, still my only). I'll probably do another at some point in time. But that can wait until later.
1) Kenneth Ringled, 50K, 2014-2016, Simi Valley CA. USA
2) The Bandit is located in the beautiful hills of Simi Valley, my hometown and training grounds. I have run several 50K before but the Bandit 50K keeps drawing me back year after year. The fantastic volunteers, the amazing RDs, the beautiful weather and views is what I look forward to every year. The mix of technical single track, rocky fire roads, flowing downhills and unrelentless climbs is what keeps me coming back! The lore of the Bandit is strong, no matter how hard I train unique challenges always present themselves, its a true test of grit and determination. I am in a secret love affair with the Simi hills even though she continues to break my heart..
3) The toughest part of the race for me comes at mile 2 and mile 29, its the same damn hill but presents a challenge in both directions. Up: at mile 2 of the race you climb, climb and climb some more, its a steep, rock strewn ascent up to Rocky Peak. If your feeling good you can run parts of it, but not for long because it will break you down and wear you out way too early in the race. Down: Mile 29, your legs hurt, your quads are trashed, your mind is screaming that you want to be done, you know there is a beer waiting for you in 2 miles. But none of that matters, you need to clear your head and concentrate on the task that lies ahead, one lapse in concentration and you can twist an ankle, skin your knees or even break your nose, the descent down to the wildlife corridor is tough, technical and will reduce you to turtles pace. Its a true late race love/hate reminder of the difficulty that is the Bandit!
4) See 3...
I call it the curse of the Bandit, I look forward to the race every year, I train often and I train hard, but something always defeats me! Did I piss of the resting spirits of the Chumash that once inhabited these hills? After two 3rd place finishes, I felt like 2016 was my year to win, I felt it in my heart, I felt it in my brain. Yes I PR'd this year and came in second and yes I am happy with my finish, but I still feel like I have unfinished business on this course.. I will be back next year to take care of business!
5) This course is tough! Its a true test of all skill sets, you need to be a strong climber, good at downhills, a technical runner and have Iron quads. You will receive expert care at every aid station, amazing views in all directions and a great after party when you finish. It will throw a little of everything out at you, so if your looking for a true challenge with great rewards this is the race for you!
6) Coconut heaven!
PS.. Thank you for emailing pictures of me!
Kenneth Ringled’s “short version” when asked about the front runners jockeying for top 3 positions…
The "gun" went off ran really comfortable with Michael Eastburn where I took the lead an 1/8th of a mile out from the starting line, led all the way through the parade lap. I was thinking as I passed through a cheering crowd at Corganville if this was the best race strategy? I have never been known to lead a race from the start, I like to lay back behind the leaders are strike later in the race, clean up the carnage! But the answer was yes, this is what I wanted, this is what I trained so hard for, the Bandit was mine this year. As we ascended up the Wildlife corridor climb at mile 2 I was in the lead, by how much I was not sure, I never really looked back at all going up this climb, I just put my head down and pushed. A mix of power hiking and running, next thing you know I am at Rocky Peak, that wasn't too bad. As I make my way past Amanda's bench I hear someone ask if I had ran this race before, it was Felix (the eventual winner), from this point forward it was Felix and I running together. A good part of the time we ran side by side and I would pull away from him a several points, usually on the bigger climbs, but he was always there never too far behind like a stalker, a hunter. Was I being hunted? Felix and Michael where always the there right behind me, its too early in the race still to be running scared. Maybe I was too focused on a mission at the Chumash aid station but I could have sworn Felix continued right through the aid station and down Chumash without stopping while Michael and I refilled and fueled up. Oh well down my favorite descent of the race - Chumash! I could surely catch up to Felix here, down a flew at a fast clip down Chumash, I was in a serious flow state ripping down the trail, I felt good, I felt happy! The Chumash zen experience was short lived because next thing you know I am running down the only street section of the race head toward Marrland, wait what? its Felix pulling up beside me, he compliments my downhill running and I ask how he got behind me? Turns out he did stop at Chumash and I was in front of him the whole time, we run into Marrland "Starwars land" together with Michael not far behind. Its me leading up the charge ascending Hotdog hill, Felix right behind almost the entire way up we made a little space on Michael at this point. I pull away from Felix again as I bomb down another amazing descent that is Chivo Canyon, again short lived because as soon as I hit the bottom in Tapo Open Spaces Felix is right behind me again, I cannot shake this kid! We run together all the way through Tapo where we roll into the half way point together at the Nancys Tapo Canyon aid station. We spend a couple minutes getting ourselves together before we head out for the second half of the race, this is where things took a turn. Headed back through Tapo Open Spaces either Felix found an extra gear or I lost a gear, but he took the lead from me for the first time in the race. Thoughts racing through my head slightly demoralized all I could think is he was going to burn himself out and I would pass him back up, so I just kept pushing forward. As hard as I tried to keep him in my sight the last I saw of him was going back up Hotdog Hill, that was it.. I wouldn't see him again till the end of the race! With everyone reassuring me he was only 2 minutes ahead, and cheering me on to catch him, I pushed really hard, I left everything I had out on the course. But I just wasn't enough...
Sorry that's all I got so far Sarita, its still a work in progress and riddled with errors. Feel free to use whatever you like and edit as you please, hope this little bit helps! I will be sure to send you my full race report when its finished in couple of days...
1) Tae Kim, 50K, 2016, Brea, CA, USA! USA!
2) I wanted to complete a 3rd 50K (bonked and dropped to 30K on my last attempt in November), the Bandit was a local race of that distance at a good time of year.
3) Elevation. Some grueling climbs, but that's also what made it fun!
4) Ran out of pizza (I got the very last slice) at the finish village, but that was my fault for taking forever to finish.
5) Tremendous fun and well worth doing. Some people describe it as perhaps not the best first ultra because of the difficulty level, but having done two others to compare it to, my opinion is that it's so well-supported and the experience is so positive that it's definitely worth attempting.
6) The homemade treats were delicious! I'm not vegan (or vegetarian) but I love plant-based foods; treats/desserts are tough to do vegan but they were great.
I sent Randy a link to my blog about the race; I'd read on Reddit that there aren't many race reports about the Bandit online, so if you'd find it helpful please feel free to share mine:
Thank you for a fantastic experience!
Bryan Lutz, Porter Ranch, CA, 50k 2016 (30k '15, 50k '14, 30k '13)
This was my fourth year in a row participating in the Bandit. The race is less than 3 miles from where I live (which as noted above happens to be Porter Ranch). I love running the race because it reminds me about all the natural beauty we live near and often take for granted - especially given the recent gas leak it's a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the incredible vistas across the valley.
The Corriganville wall is an absolute killer on the descent. This technical piece of the course turns hamburger meat quads into pure sludge. (This is both the most challenging and my least favorite!)
This year it felt like there were as many volunteers as there were runners - it was incredible. Cresting to the top of Shells and having a Sheriff standing there saying dryly, "Welcome to the top of Shells", it felt like you had just conquered the likes of Everest.
Bryan Jolly , Bandit 50K 2016, 3rd Place Overall
I had heard about the Bandit 50k from Chris Price a few years back but at the time I didn’t know anything about the Santa Susana Mountains. Since then, I’ve gotten married and I have begun to spend a decent amount of time out in Chatsworth at my in-laws house. At first I thought this sounded terrible. Then I realized that the summit of Rocky Peak was only a five-mile run from their doorstep. Then I discovered the Chumash Trail. Then my wife started thinking we were spending too much time at her parent’s house.
Bottom line: I fell in love with the Santa Susana Mountains (I summited Rocky Peak 26 times in 2015), so I knew I had to try the Bandit 50k, and it did not disappoint. I thought the Race Director was crazy for giving his address to all the runners who signed up for the race, inviting them over for early registration… but then I realized that these are just good people. It made so much sense. Leaving the Shoemaker residence on Friday night, I had a very good feeling about the event and the people running it. I was excited.
I pulled into the parking lot at Corriganville Park at 6:30am on the dot. Perfect timing. I had plenty of time to get dressed, warm up, use the facilities and make it to the start line to hear Randy give the pre-race briefing. I took a sip of coffee and reached into the backseat for my shoes. No shoes. My hand frantically searched every inch of the backseat in the dark. Nothing. Fuck.
Seconds later I was flying back out of the park against the heavy flow of traffic pouring in. Luckily, my in-laws house is only seven minutes away. One exit on the freeway. Two blown red lights and a few miles on the 118 and I was back— with my shoes— and ten minutes to spare. Fortunately for me, this time I got to park about 3/4 of a mile away from the park, the distance lending itself to a nice little warm-up. Not exactly the relaxing, auspicious start I was hoping for, but hey, I wasn’t starting late and trying to pass 100 people.
Without much time to think about anything, we were off, flying around the park in a loop before starting the climbing up toward Rocky Peak. I don't know if it was the stressful shoe situation, my restless sleep the night before or my coffee fiasco (I won’t even go into the details here) but I felt like absolute shit the for the first six miles of the race. We left the park and headed up under the 118 freeway, Kenny Ringled and Felix Lawson out front, Michael Eastburn (fresh off a 2nd place finish at the Ray Miller 50k) running in a close third… and then me, desperately trying and failing to keep up as we marched up the steep, technical sandstone toward the Rocky Peak Fire Road.
I was barely able to keep the lead group in sight as they crossed the small valley and headed up the climb. I kept going over the checklist in my head, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I shouldn’t have been feeling this bad this early. I had done anything yet. I ripped off my shirt. I was sweating too much too soon. The weather was too good for this to be happening. It was 57 degrees.
I tried to shift my focus away from how I was feeling and focus on the looming climb. It was time to settle in and grind it out. It would be over soon enough and I’d be floating down the Chumash trail (currently one of my favorite trails in Southern California— especially when you're going down). Just the thought of that was enough to put a smile on my face and lift my spirits a bit. I got a little Vitamin D on my chest, put my head down and fell into a rhythmic breathing/stride up toward my current peak of choice: Rocky. Honestly, if it didn’t take so damn long, I would have tried to sneak a summit into the race. But that would have cost me 15 minutes easy and added a couple hundred feet of vert. I was still trying to win this race.
I was starting to feel a bit better as I cruised into the Chumash aid station. Lead group nowhere in sight. There seem to be far less restrictions in Ventura County about what can go on at the aid stations and as such, this race was AWESOME! It was like a party at the stations. Volunteers were offering me beer. During the race. There was music blasting, people dressed in costumes dancing, drinking and generally having a great time. It was hard to leave not feeling great. A handful of pretzels, a swig of coke and three S! Caps later, I was flying down the Chumash Trail, enjoying the dramatic views and buttery single track.
I finally started to feel like I was emerging from the fog. It was time to start running. I hung two sub-seven minute miles down the Chumash Trail and pulled into the Marr Land Aid in what seemed like no time at all. This aid station seemed to have a prevailing Star Wars theme and there were little Yoda and Boba Fett signs encouraging me as I left. Still feeling and anxious to try to close the distance between myself and the leaders, I drank a couple dixie cups full of coke and was gone (I only spent a cumulative seven minutes in Aid Stations during the Bandit 50k, down from 13 minutes at Mt. Disappointment 50k in July. Getting better). I knew I had an out-and-back section coming up so I would get to see exactly where I stood.
The section after the Marr Land aid station was the only part of the course I was unfamiliar with, so I was excited to get to see a new section of the mountains. There wasn’t a ton of climbing in this section— really only one—but it was gorgeous, cut along a nice ridge and the mountains seemed to have changed topography, losing the ubiquitous peppering of sandstone boulders for a little limestone and some trees.
I was cruising along through this mostly flat section, keeping my pace comfortably below eight minutes a mile. My only concern was the slightly rising temperatures. It seemed significantly warmer the farther west we traveled (it was after 9am now) and the cloud cover had thinned out quite a bit. I wanted to get back to higher elevations and cooler temperatures as quickly as possible and made a mental note to spend some time drinking water at the next aid station.
Depressingly, still almost a half a mile from the turn around, I caught a glimpse of Felix’s face rounding a corner. We nodded and muttered words of encouragement. Ten seconds later, Kenny came whipping by, looking fresh, with a nice high cadence that makes us tall guys jealous. It was about two minutes before the third place runner, Michael Eastburn, appeared around a bend. He didn’t look as fresh as the other two but he was still moving at a nice pace and I made another mental note that I had my fucking work cut out for me going forward.
I pounded five dixie cups full of water, took four salt caps, ate two Oreos and I was gone. The chase was on. I had to catch at least one of these guys. The podium was in reach and I had to go for it. Win or blow up trying. I dropped my pace and hung a couple seven minute miles back out of the turnaround (where I picked up my conveniently placed t-shirt, at least I didn’t have to hold it in my hand the ENTIRE race. At some point I’m going to learn to just leave them in the car) and started climbing back toward the aid station.
The legs and the wind were feeling solid on this climb and toward the top I passed a fellow 50k racer coming down the climb who shouted, “Bro, you look great!! Go for it! You can catch those guys!!” and I can’t even tell you what a burst of energy it gave me. I don’t know who that guy was, but because of him I ran that next mile and finished that climb at least two minutes faster. My spirits boosted and my confidence restored, I found myself back at the Marr Land Aid Station at 2:51 elapsed time.
Randy was there to give me some words of encouragement and I felt great leaving the aid station with a fat Red Vine sticking out of my mouth and approximately 12 pretzels in the pockets of my Patagonia shorts. This time, we headed up through Las Llajas Canyon to make the ridge and the Rocky Peak Fire Road (another great quality of the Bandit: it could have been an out and back but they offer two separate loops to switch up the course and the terrain). I was still feeling good as we started the climb— and at this point I’m passing 25k racers every few minutes, what went from such solitude the for the first three hours has suddenly became a traffic jam— so I kept pounding, maintaining what I felt was a good pace, waiting to see that Chumash Aid Station and the end of all the real climbing. After that, it was a couple rollers along the fire road and about 1500’ of descent back into Corriganville Park.
I rounded a bend in the steep fire road, still maintaining a decent running stride when I was distracted by a large group of 25k runners (yellow bibs) sitting on the side of the trail. As I came around the corner they all started to get up, obstructing my view of the trail ahead. I had to veer to the far left side to pass them and as I did, I was surprised (and elated) to see a hunched, hiking Michael Eastburn. I pulled along side of him and asked him how he was doing. All he could muster was a muffled, “I feel like shit.” I tried to offer some encouraging words but, having been in that place before, knew it probably didn’t do much good. I knew he didn’t want to waste his energy talking to me so I pushed on. The podium was now in my sights. Third place was mine to lose.
My arrival into the Chumash Aid Station was bittersweet. This aid station was particularly awesome, I was almost talked into a beer there and the volunteers gave me a tremendous boost. Plus the climbing was over. But I felt like I hadn't pushed hard enough coming into that aid. I know that trail too well. I should have hit a couple of those last climbs harder and tried close the gap. As it was, I was 12 minutes back of Felix and 10 mins behind Kenny. Almost an impossible distance to make up in less than six miles, all downhill, with those guys running out in front. They’re fast.
I resigned to cruise in, relax and enjoy the finish. The fourth place runner wasn’t in sight as I left the aid station so I knew I didn’t need to push too hard. During my last few races, I have become much more conscious in the moment during my finishes. In the past, I had always been so happy to be done or so emotional or simply too overwhelmed at the finish of a race to fully appreciate the moment. Then I look back on it later and realize how incredible it actually was and what an amazing feeling of accomplishment it really is to finish a race like this…
So this time I consciously let it all soak in. I just wish I could bottle it up. It’s my drug. I love it. It feels special to finish well at a race in (what feels like) my backyard. I love these mountains. I’ll be back.
This was a great race put on by amazing people with a competitive field of runners (the swag was dope too). I can’t wait to come back next year and spend (hopefully) around four hours running through the Santa Susanas again.