Alexandre Remy is a Napa runner and winemaker who partners with Inside Trail sponsoring 50K Age Group winners over 21 years of age… and who finished the 2024 Marin Ultra Challenge 50-mile trail run in 10:37:35. Whether you’re planning to take on the adventure yourself or you’re simply curious about what his day out on the trail looked like, read his Marin Ultra Challenge Race Summary below!

Written by Alexandre Remy

Day Before the Race:

I placed a huge emphasis on overeating and drinking plenty of water. For dinner, I had ramen with mushrooms and asparagus, along with two pieces of fish. I felt that I had to force myself to eat more than usual. I also had one beer and two glasses of wine. I went to bed by 9 pm, woke up twice during the night, but still felt rested in the morning.

Day of the Race:

For breakfast, I had eggs and potatoes, a protein shake (Kachava), and, of course, coffee. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I made sure to fuel up for the race.

Equipment:

  • Salomon XA PRO 3D V9 shoes: Although a bit heavy, they have a rounded toe and are sturdy. Overall, great shoes, though slightly too big.
  • Compression merino wool socks: Amazing comfort.
  • Leggings and shorts.
  • Long-sleeved merino wool top layer: Essential for temperature variation.
  • Technical short-sleeved shirt.
  • Salomon running vest with two 500ml flasks (one Skratch, one water): A great vest, though the flasks are hard to put away when not filled with water, and I experience slight discomfort on the rib cage by the end of the race.
  • EarPods and phone.
  • A running hat, sunglasses, and a headlamp were not used.
  • Food in the vest at the start: One Tahoe bar, one protein bar, and 10 cheese/prosciutto strings.

The 2024 Marin Ultra Challenge Race Summary:

The race started at 6 am at Rodeo Beach on March 9th, 2024. The first 15 miles felt amazing—I was strong and paced myself well. I managed to eat my two bars in addition to aid station offerings (banana, potatoes, and watermelon at each stop).

I drank about 1 liter of water every 5 miles, which felt forced at first, and had to stop four times to pee on the side. I was careful on the downhill sections to limit the impact on my legs but found it hard to find a comfortable pace downhill. I focused on not tripping and kept my shoulders relaxed. I ran most of it with my friend Guillaume, which was entertaining and helped with pacing.

Troubleshooting: Knees…

Between miles 15 and 20, my left knee started hurting, feeling like the joint wasn’t clicking. The pain was a 5 out of 10 when my kneecap was at the wrong angle. It didn’t hurt while walking but was painful while running (especially downhill). I tried massaging my knee during uphill sections, but it didn’t seem to help. Despite managing to reach the top of the hill, reality hit me as I started descending towards Stinson Beach. I let Guillaume go ahead and barely managed to descend without considering abandoning the race. I realized I was not even halfway through, and the biggest hill was still ahead. I decided to take an ibuprofen, which, strangely enough, seemed to work almost immediately (within 5-10 minutes).

I reached the bottom of the biggest hill at mile 20 and found Guillaume not far ahead, which lifted my spirits. We power-hiked up the steep hill, which was fine for my knee. At the halfway point, we started a slight single-track downhill section in the rain and wind. I led a group of three of us, all feeling the cold and wind. The knee pain started to return, and I began to doubt whether I could finish. After 2-3 miles, I let Guillaume and the other runner go ahead by slowing down and focusing on my knee. I massaged it, which seemed to help slightly.

… and Blisters

I finally made it to the Willow Camp aid station, a few minutes behind Guillaume and not in the best shape. I was now fearful of developing a blister, so I sat down to apply a Band-Aid. It was raining, I was cold, and the Band-Aid wouldn’t stick. The staff was friendly, but with 20 miles still to go, and knowing it would be a minimum of 4-5 more hours, I struggled mentally. Despite my low energy, I mustered the strength to continue. However, as soon as I started again, my knee started blocking. In a desperate attempt, I reached for a second ibuprofen, only to find it had dissolved due to the rain, leaving my vest covered in a white powder. Panic set in as I entered Muir Woods amidst tourists, feeling surreal. I was alone, and nothing seemed to be going well.

Redemption

Coming out of Muir Woods, I ran into another competitor who shared that he also had knee pain. He had poles, which he said were lifesaving for him and his knee. He asked if I was going to finish, and while I encouraged him, I also found a new source of energy for myself.

From there, I passed him on a downhill stretch, despite my knee still hurting (3 out of 10). I felt that finishing was now possible. Arriving at the aid station at mile 35 felt good, but I knew I needed to reach mile 40 to truly believe I could make it. Those next 5 miles were extremely challenging, but I focused on the positive, kept up with my nutrition (pickles were now a favorite at each aid station, along with watermelon), and kept going.

The Finish Line

On the downhill between miles 35 and 40, I caught up with Guillaume, who was also struggling with his knee. It made me realize that everyone was going through a tough moment. Arriving at Stinson Beach, my energy was up, and with only 10 miles to go, I felt like I was on the home stretch. I tackled Coyote Ridge, which felt endless, but I ran parts of the uphill and caught up to other runners. The downhill from there was very slippery, and while I was passed by others, I didn’t want to risk falling.

Finally, arriving at the last hill, I passed the last two runners from our earlier group. I felt energized and power-walked up the hill easily. Arriving at the top, I could see Rodeo Beach, and despite the pain, I knew I had made it. I ran down the hill with a big smile, filled with positive energy. I finished with a sense of victory!

It was then time for a well-deserved beer and a one-hour drive home

Takeaways:

I feel very proud of my course management, especially regarding food and water intake. I managed to keep my heart rate low and steady throughout the race. In hindsight, I realize I was slightly over-equipped for this particular race, as I didn’t end up needing my hat, sunglasses, or headlamp.

Areas for Improvement:

For future races, I plan to focus on cross-training to build more upper-body strength and muscle around my knees. I also intend to incorporate specific downhill training to improve my technique and reduce the impact on my knees.

Next Goal:

100k race

Find Alex:

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