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Backbone Trail, Santa Monica Mountains (68 miles)

March 28, 2011

2 months ago, I had this crazy idea to run the entire Backbone trail, spanning 68 miles from Pt. Mugu in Malibu to Will Rogers in Santa Monica. I quickly posted a Facebook status asking if anyone wanted to run it and got a few replys. I didn’t think anyone was seriously considering it, the backbone trail is one of those things on your bucket list that you dream of doing. We have all run parts of backbone on separate runs and the beauty of the backbone is that the trail is relentless and will push you to your limits. No matter what section of the backbone you are on, you will get a ass kicking. Well as time crept on, I began to send out preliminary e-mails to this original group suggesting dates that would work for everyone. It was hard to plan around 6-7 different schedules because of all the races that were coming  up, but we finally agreed to do it March 26-27. We also decided to break up the run into 2 days (38 miles on Saturday and 30 on Sunday). I slowly started to work my way through backbone on the weekends to figure out all the connectors and how each trail was supposed to connect to each other. With lots of map reading, getting lost and frustration, I was able to complete around 40 of the 68 miles of the backbone before our big run date.

Our plan was to have two water/food drops the first day. One at Mile 17 at Yerba Buena Road and one at Mile 26 at Encinal Canyon. I knew from running backbone a lot that there was no way we could carry all the food and water we needed for each day. The first day was going to be 38 miles from Ray Miller to Corral Canyon. I realized running anything longer than 20 miles on trails, I need to eat real food (i.e. chips, pretzels, pb&j, not gu’s and jelly beans). Having the drops were SO helpful because we all looked forward to these aid stations that were set up with some pretty amazing food. The 2nd day was 30 miles from Corral Canyon (where we had stopped the first day) and end at Will Rogers. There were 2 aid drops (Mile 12 at Stunt Road and Mile 17 at Dead Horse). Anythign in between or after we were on our own!

Amazing support by Matt and Dave. Thanks guys!

So long story short, it was a long long weekend out on the trails. Over 8 hours for me on Saturday and 10 hours on Sunday and 18,000 ft elevation climb. I had to drop at mile 26 on Saturday due to severe stomach cramping and hand swelling. Anyone know why? I completed the full second day of 30 miles, so overall ran 56 of the 68 mile backbone trail. Although, I am happy to say the section I was missing from this weekend, I have run before, so technically I have run the entire backbone. It was a challenge. It was tough. We slipped and slid through mud many times. We climbed rocks, hiked, ran, crossed streams/creeks and fought our own battles each day. Only 3 people ended up completing the entire mileage both days. Major props to Jack, Helen and Erin. The badass trio. Everyone pushed their limits and I couldn’t have asked for more amazing friends for company and support for this epic event.Thank you all for making this happen!!

Here are some pics documenting our journey….

Our Saturday group ready to take on BBT! Kitty, Meg, Erin, Bev, Kristin, Colin, Helen, Matt, Me, Jack

Lots of map reading Day 1

Stream crossings! Looks fun, but not so much when you're running in soggy wet shoes for 8+ hours

Split rock on Chamberlain trail

Dirty legs and feet!

Day 2 crew: Helen, Jack, Erin, Josh, Billy, Me

View from Bulldog

Did I mention it was muddy?

Almost at Stunt road

Oh yeah, a huge tree had fallen right in the middle of the trail. It was seriously a wtf moment. I had no idea if we were suppose to climb on top of this tree and through all the branches but there was no other way to get around. It was kind of scary because I wasn’t sure how stable the tree was and if I climbed on it if the entire tree would break off and slide off the side of the canyon!

The deepest stream we had to cross

Final group shot at The Hub-8 more miles to go until the end

I see Santa Monica!! We are HOME

So who wants to run all 68 miles in one day with me? Until the next challenge…

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