For WWW pictures click here: http://sports.webshots.com/album/558934839VinOsd
"I had the privilege and honor of doing the Wild Wild West 50K with the famous iMichelle Barton. Let me just tell you that this girl is from another planet, which is appropriate considering the scenery we had on this run.
The WWW 50K starts on Whitney Portal Road (end of the Badwater course) at 5500 feet, and climbs to close to 7000 feet during the first seven miles - can you say grueling, gasping for breath? With a 6:00 a.m. start and temps in the low 40s with 30+ mile-an-hour winds, it was actually good to start the race, as it was FREEZING. Off went the horn and iMichelle bolted near the front, wearing her stylish Solomon team running outfit. The course wound its way up into the hills, and the climbing was relentless. I was able to keep iMichelle in sight during this difficult climb, and we finally reached the summit - this turned out to be by far the most difficult part of the race. Oh yeah, one great thing about this race was aid stations every 2-3 miles, so you could travel light (unlike Zane Grey, where the aid stations were 10 miles apart!).
The next 7 miles of this run had to be the most heavenly stretch of trail imaginable - nice wide perfectly groomed road (I thought I was back on the horse trails in Coto), with a long perfect grade for blasting down the hill. I decided that I better take it easy since I didn't want to blow out my quads, and was passed by one runner in this stretch - iMichelle was long gone.
The next part of the course was a gradual rolling uphill section, headed towards the Alabama Hills. This area is famous for all the oldtime Westerns that were filmed (and still are) here, and we actually passed a dirt road called, you guessed it, Movie Road. The winds were blowing strong at this point, and fortunately they were dead straight from behind, so running uphill felt almost like running downhill - a very strange but very welcome thing. I took off my wind jacket at the start of this section, but had to put it back on because of the cold. Oh yeah, I passed the guy who passed me on the downhill, and he would be dogging me the rest of the race.
At mile 20, the course splits for the marathoners and the 50K'ers. Boy was it tempting to go left towards the finish, 'cause the next 5 mile loop that was unique to the 50K course would prove to be grueling. A mile uphill section started this loop, and then a couple miles downhill, and then a very difficult 1-2 mile section back up. Lots of walking involved here for moi.
Finally, we reached the part of the course where we rejoined the marathoners, and the course just got even more spectacular. Rolling hills for about a mile, then a blasting 2-3 miles of gorgeous single track through the canyons and back down to civilization. The course had a net elevation drop of around 1300 feet, and this was the part where you could really enjoy it.
We finally bottomed out, and I knew we only had about 2 1/2 miles to go because we had driven the last part of the course the previous night. We had one more difficult stretch which was flat, but directly into the headwind. Passed lots of marathoners who were walking at this point, and my 50K shadow had dropped back quite a bit. Finally, we were back on 395 for the last mile of the course. Finished in 5:08, so I was quite surprised to find out I had PR'd.
At the finish, I asked if they had seen Michelle, and they said oh yeah, she just went blasting right through the finish line (which was not very well marked) and kept going - 50K is obviously not enough for this girl. She ended up first female, second overall by a little over 10 minutes, and shattered the old women's record by over 23 minutes, with a time of 4:41. She is a bona fide phenom and running studdette!
Wild Wild West was a difficult but throroughly enjoyable 50K, withe gorgeous scenery, awesome support, and with 29 years is the third oldest trail marathon in the US."