Got in to San Francisco late last night and got all checked in for my race today. I like that everything is lined up ahead of time and that I don't need to deal with any of that Saturday morning. The ridiculously early race start of 5am doesn't seem as bad now. If things go as planned I'll be sleeping until 4:30. I'm camping about 1/2 mile from the race start so I should be able to just get up and pack up my tent and walk down to the race start, all the while hoping to get as much food as possible into my system.
North Face hooked us up with some pretty nice race loot, which consists of almost $100 worth of socks, shirt, hat, and water bottle (granted the stuff is really only worth about half that much if it didn't have The North Face logo on it but it is nice stuff for sure). Pretty sweet for a race who's entry fee was under $100. One thing I will say is that it's very impressive that The North Face is willing to put so much money into creating a championship type ultra marathon. They've made a serious effort to draw as many elite runners to this race as possible and it appears to be working. I'd love to see them up it to a 100 miler or create another 100 miler that they put this kind of focus into, but for now I guess this 50 miler will have to do. I think this race has an opportunity to be the ultra marathon that a lot of top runners focus on in the next few years, but that all depends on how things seem to go on race day this Saturday. I for one don't like to run races that I've run before as much as I like to try new races. For me to repeat a race I've done before I generally need to feel like things are run in just the right way. Laid back but generally organized and well thought out so that racers can just focus on running their race as much as possible. There will be enough top runners here on Saturday that if things go smoothly word will get around and others who missed out this year will be excited to be here next year. The $10,000 prize for winning is a huge draw in and of itself, but an even larger draw is an event that develops a consistently large percentage of the top ultra runners. I think even for many middle of the pack and back of the pack runners it's very exciting to run in a race that has dozens of elite runners (rather than the small handful that most ultras draw). I'm sure there are many people who could care less about top runners being in the field, but in general I think that there is a trickle down effect that occurs, such that for a race to be hugely popular for the masses it benefits significantly by being popular amongst the elite runners.