The view down Chesebro Canyon from Palo Comado peak is definitely worth the six mile climb. I ran Chesebro in early 2015 to prepare for the Chesebro Canyon Half Marathon. The trail portion of the race covers eight miles with a 1,000 foot elevation gain. It was my first trail HM and I wanted to get to know the course before the race.
The lower portion of the trail is mostly dirt. It was muddy on my first run but had dried out before the race. Oak trees and dense brush line both sides giving me plenty of shade, especially in the morning. While the running is comfortable here I have to watch out for rocks and tree roots that cross my path often hidden by leaves.
As the trees start to thin so does the topsoil. The trail becomes increasingly rocky and uneven. At first the climb is not too steep and the hard surface helps provide traction.
In places the ground is entirely exposed rock. The uneven running surface forces me to pick my way up the trail but does not slow my pace.
As the vegetation turns to scrub, the hill begins to assert itself. The course becomes more challenging and I have to work harder to tackle the slope. Without trees I am more exposed and I can feel the temperature rise. This will be a difficult part of the race.
Loose dirt and rock become a new obstacle. It is easy to slip here and now it takes more concentration to run at a consistent pace.
The last two miles are single track. The trail levels briefly then rises in a series of switchbacks before Palo Comado peak. When I reach the top I am winded and need to take a break before my descent. Chesebro was a challenging run and will be a worthy endurance test on race day.
I ran Chesebro Canyon three times before the half marathon. I found it incredibly helpful to understand the course in advance. During my final tune up run I could anticipate the difficult parts of the course and I knew where to speed up or hold back. At the same time I discovered a new running area with spectacular scenery. I’ll be back.