My Top Strava Segment in Marin (Mount Tam Hill Climb)

#10 (Rodeo to Wolf Ridge)

#9 (Coastal – Matt Davis to Willow Camp)

#8 (Pirates Cove)

#7 (Fox Trail Descent)

#6 (Ninja Loop)

#5 (Hogsback descent)

#4 (Fern Creek descent)

#3 (Marincello)

#2 (Dipsea)

#1 – Mount Tam Hill Climb


Location: Downtown Mill Valley (clocktower) to the East Peak Fire Lookout
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain:  2533 ft of Gain
Overall Runs: 2040 Attempts By 330 People
CR:  Galen Burrell in 30:58 (!) and YiOu Wang 40:53
My place: 9th, 36:08
Why:  This is the route that really brought me into the trail running community of Marin and no other route can match that in importance for me.  From my first time up the summit meeting Brett for the first time on a Tuesday morning to the my last Wednesday morning jaunt with Brett plus an amazing community of runners I have covered this segment as much as any other segment in Marin (77 times, with countless numbers of friends).  When run at the same time throughout the year you are treated to a different sunset at a different point on the trail with different weather to boot.  Its amazing, as are Galen’s and YiOu’s CRs.  They are the king and queen of the Marin climbling trails for a reason.  Watching them hold court is every bit as inspiring as the downhills of Jorge and Vitor(s).

A rock star in so many ways, Mr. Galen Burrell

Insider Tip:  The scramble at the top of the route can be tricky to find, loose footing, and lead you astray easily.  There is a race every labor day where you can get a little competition on the normally casual, friendly, and gentlemanly paced route.  Don’t expect to nail it on your own and touch the fire lookout door, overwise it doesn’t even count as a summit run.

The Godfather


Sunny and shirtless


Rainbow summit season


Headlamp season


Silhouette season


Sunset season


Top 10 Marin Strava Segments #8 (Pirates Cove, North)

#8 Pirates Cove (North)

See #10 (Rodeo to Wolf Ridge)

See #9 (Coastal – Matt Davis to Willow Camp)


Location:  Starting at the top of Coastal – go left
Distance: 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain:  417 ft of climbing (-2% grade).
Overall Runs: 6,413 Attempts By 2,553 People
CR:  Alex Varner in 10:34 and Chessa Adsit-Morris in 12:04.
My place: 5th, 11:21
Why:  Another of the most fun, iconic stretches of trail in all of Marin.  While not typically raced for speed (similar to Coastal above Stinson), this segment placing in the top 10 because it has one of the best views and it one of the most fun stretches of trail along the coast.  While the descent down to almost the ocean is filled with stairs, rocks, you are rewarded with a steady climb and some rolling single track that you can really pick up speed on.  Its one of the more fun stretches along the coast.   This stretch of trails is part of the TNF50 and Marin Ultra Challenge Races.

Rob Krar early in the TNF50

Insider Tip:  Once you finish this segment….STOP.  Turn around and take in the views.  It can be quite foggy and cold, so don’t be too surprised if you don’t get a view at all.  During the TNF50 this is a great first spot to watch the race as you get to see the bobbing headlamps descend and ascend the single track trails of Pirates Cove.

Turn around, enjoy the view.

Running Downhill is Eccentric

Northern California is full of experienced, talented ultra runners.  I don’t really consider myself one of those.  Since I started running Ultras in 2009 I have done 11 ultras, only 6 of which took more than 6 hours and just one 100 miler.  I think Ian Sharman did 11 already this year.

So when I had a bad day at work and ended up registered for a 100 mile race last October I went into sponge mode.  When Ian asked if I wanted to run up Diablo with him I did not hesitate at the chance to pick the brain of the crazy man, Leadville Champion, and new Grand Slam record holder himself.  Ian is only a year older than me, but in ultra running years (I think there is a McMillian or maybe Torrence Calculator for that) is light years more mature than me. The most critical thing I learned that first trip up Diablo was that just because you run (or hike) up slow, does not mean you need to run down easy.  3600 ft of trail descent with 3 sub 5:10s thrown in for good measure and I had my first “real” taste of downhill training.  I say “real” only because I am not an exercise, running science, newbie, and I do understand training. Continue reading