The Defiance 50K

Riddle me this: If I were to run the Defiance 15K, I’d have to run one loop. The 30K, that’s two loops. But for the 50K I run 3 loops. How does that math work?

Turns out, a loop is a bit longer than 15K – it’s like 16.667K. And two loops runs 33.33K. But that didn’t look so hot on the shirt so they just rounded down for the shorter distances. And we all get the same medal anyway so maybe the best way to describe the Defiance 50K is that it stands defiantly opposed to conventional measurements.

Before possibly breaking my toe in August, I was supposed to do a 51K out at Area 51. With that run sabotaged by shoeless Kevin’s clumsy nocturnal activities, the Defiance 50K was a new animal for me… and I assume that animal is a platypus, given the stuffed “fren” on the devilish staircase to the starting/finishing line (a staircase I would run… er, well, a staircase I would *climb* three times at the end of the various loops).

It was a beautiful place to get lost. And lost I did get… albeit I was saved repeatedly by a north star runner in the first loop who I followed to get back on track.

I didn’t take a lot of photos. Some of that was a desire to just live in the moment of the run… and some of that was because I had to take note of creeping tree roots that could’ve toppled me at a moment’s notice… and some of that was because I was struggling here and there just to keep moving forward.

As would be expected, there were more runners in the first loop as it involved folks running the three different distances… as loops were completed, the numbers dwindled… and truth be told by my second loop I was already in a pace of my own, long stretches just me and the trees and the frantic search for a pink ribbon marking the turns to keep runners on track.

They did draw arrows in the dirt with their boot heels to mark some turns. Pro tip, something I’d think the TCMA running team would know already: as runners run on the trail, and other users of the trail walk about, the dirt arrows get obscured PDQ darn quickly.

I did see a deer. It was… unimpressed with me.

The first half of the loop had more inclines than the second half so each loop I’d long to pass the halfway mark and settle into the more gentle rolling downhill mileage. But with each loop, that respite of the second half proved increasingly less respiteful and far more spiteful.

Increasingly less? That’s terrible wordsmithing. I blame my dehydrated brain.

In the end, three loops took me a grueling 5:15. I’m not sure I was ever destroyed. I just was mentally and physically exhausted… and unmotivated as the day wore on. I found myself channeling Danny Glover from the Lethal Weapon series: I’m getting too old for this shit.


Separate from the race itself, I had envisioned doing some touristy things. I used to do this all the time in the before times, back before Covid, before the world paused and then started up in some weird parallel universe where half the population believes in science and half believes in, um, mountebank snakeoil salesmen.

I fully intended to drive out to Twede’s Café, the true-life location for the fictional Twin Peaks’s Double R Diner. I’ve been there before and ya know what? The cherry pie IS damn fine. But traffic was snarled according to GoogleMaps and I was looking at an hour plus to get out there. Post run, I really needed food a bit sooner than that. And besides, I can’t honestly tell if I can even sit inside the place.

I struggled finding a place here in Fife, WA, to get food. With various dining rooms closed or inaccessible to me because they’re inside/marginally ventilated, I wound up using a drive-through at some fast food chain. It’s a bit heartbreaking to resign oneself to that but I legitimately couldn’t tell if places were open or not. Two of the places I found nearby on TravelAdvisor/Yelp are boarded up and abandoned.

I’m going to try for Twede’s tomorrow. As it stands, I’m a bit… antisocial? There’s masks some places, and not others. There’s a weird vibe to the whole area that feels unwelcoming but maybe that’s just me being spooked about the world in general.

These races used to be easier – I was in better shape and so was the world as a whole.

Perhaps all we can do is try and do better, try and be better.