Race Recap: Brazen Dirty Dozen 10K

Jess and Kate, two of my best running friends, are moving away at the end of the month to Oklahoma and Southern California, respectively. {Insert sad crying emoji here.} In true crazy runner fashion, they decided to bid farewell to the Bay Area running community by participating in Brazen’s Dirty Dozen 6-Hour Endurance Event. It’s part of an all day running party, along with a 12-hour event and 4 shorter races: a morning 5K and 10K, followed by an afternoon 5K and 10K. Essentially, all runners run some version of the 3.37-mile loop. Having volunteered at this race 3 years ago, I knew it was a really unique and intense event.

bt and I signed up for the 10K to support Jess and Kate. We carpooled together and arrived in plenty of time for the 10:30 a.m. start. It was interesting to show up to a race where there were already runners on the course – and had been since 7:00 a.m.

My race strategy, if there was one, kept changing throughout the week leading up to the race. At first, I just wanted to run for fun, maybe pick up the pace if I was feeling good. Then, after a few hopeful, (relatively) speedier runs midweek, I considered putting in a tempo-plus effort – not all out, but strong. I was further inspired to run fast by my pre-race reconnaissance, during which I found that my friend Jane had won our age group last year in an impressive 55 minutes for the 6.74 mile course (it’s an “ultra” 10K). Since becoming a mother to twin girls earlier this year and coming down with an Achilles injury, Jane has been sidelined for a few months, so I thought I’d try to defend her AG win. When I awoke with tired legs Saturday morning, however, I was doubtful that I could even muster a tempo run. Even though each 3.37 mile loop only had ~150 feet of elevation gain, I knew from previous experience that there was a lot of gravel and wood chips that would slow me down. Nonetheless, I decided to try my best – whatever pace it meant for that day – and finish strong.

Because the 6- and 12-hour events are the main event, there was a smaller crowd than usual for the 5K and 10K. Altogether there were about 200 of us (~70 in the 10K and ~120 in the 5K). As we entered the corral, I surveyed the field and concluded most people were out for a fun run. bt and I positioned ourselves near the front, because even though I didn’t intended to race-race, the last thing I wanted to do was get stuck in a crowd or behind people.

My Garmin lost its GPS while we were waiting for the start, of course. As a result, I lost about 30 seconds of data (whomp whomp). The horn sounded and the crowd surged forward. I tried my best not to be carried along by the adrenaline. I trailed bt by a few feet for the first minute or so, but as we made a right turn downhill, I charged ahead and tried to make my way out of the crowd. The course was a clockwise loop with mostly gentle rolling hills on a mix of potholed grass, dirt, gravel, and woodchips. There was one very short but steep uphill that slowed me to a jog both times. The first part of the loop runs along the water, with nice views of the San Francisco Bay and Marin County in the distance. The second half weaves through the trees, finishing with a glorious downhill right into the finishing chute.

I spent the first loop chasing people down. It was easy to differentiate the 5K/10K runners from the 6- and 12-hour participants based on pace. However, I had no idea if I was chasing down a 5K or 10K runner; it was random chance, and I hoped that I wasn’t going out too fast. My rabbit for the first loop was an Asian lady with short blond hair, whom I managed to pass at the very end of the lap on the downhill portion. Despite feeling a bit tired during portions of the first loop, I got a burst of energy running through the start/finish area, where runners and spectators alike had set up camp and were cheering people on as they came through. One lap down, one more lap to go.

Not sure when this was taken, but glad I remembered to smile.

Not sure when this was taken, but I’m glad I remembered to smile.

The second lap was lonelier, as the 10K runners became pretty spread out. Chasing down 6- and 12-hour runners wasn’t nearly as exciting, so I focused on keeping up my effort, not pace. (For once, I rarely looked at my Garmin for pace.) I took Sally McCrae’s “Choose Joy” mantra from Western States and changed it to “Choose Boldness” and “Choose Courage.” One of my biggest racing weaknesses is giving in to the urge to slow down at the end, so finishing strong has been something I’ve been trying to work on. As cheesy as my mantras were, they really worked for me in the moment.

Only 2 runners passed me during the second lap – the guy who would eventually win the 6-hour individual race with an impressive 44 miles, and one member of the 6-hour winning team Ko-dependent. I had no idea where I stood in terms of placing. From the first lap, I knew there weren’t that many runners ahead of me, but again, I couldn’t tell how many of them were 5K versus 10K runners.

Just as I was emerging from the woods, with about half a mile to go, I heard some hard breathing behind me and a woman’s voice yelling, “Passing on your left!” Uh-oh. Time to pick up the pace. As I tried my best to maneuver around the 6- and 12-hour walkers and joggers, I could hear my competition gaining on me. I tore down the hill at 7:30/mile (keep in mind my average for the whole race was 9:10/mile), with my Garmin clocking 6:58/mile as the peak pace for this section. If the race ended at the bottom of the hill, then I would’ve bettered my opponent. Unfortunately, there was still about 100 yards of uneven grass to go before the finish line.

With about 50 yards left, my fellow runner – the blond Asian lady and my rabbit from lap one – caught up to me. I was sort of relieved to see that she didn’t look to be in my age group (later, I confirmed that she is 52). As I yelled, “Let’s do this!” she responded with, “Pothole!” Indeed, the ground was a minefield of holes covered by a thin layer of dying grass. Unfortunately, old habits kicked in and I decided to let her go. I let off the gas as we approached the Brazen finish arch, finishing one second behind the very fit 52-year old.

If you look closely, you can see the expression of complacency on my face.

Getting beat at the finish line. :/

I was surprised to see bt waiting at the finish – she had decided to make a pit stop after one loop and was waiting for Jess and Kate to run her second loop with them. Then, she informed me that I was the 3rd female. Wait, what?? I figured that I probably placed in my AG, but I didn’t think I would actually make it on the podium!

My joyous feelings of unexpected victory lasted all of 15 minutes, when I checked the official results and realized that I came in 4th female, just one second behind the feisty 52-year old. Dang it! That’s what I get for giving up so close to the finish line. Next time I want to slow down at the end of  a race, I’ll think back on this missed opportunity at the Dirty Dozen 10K!

The good news was that I did manage to defend Jane’s title by coming in first in our age group. My time wasn’t spectacular by any means, and it helped that the field was quite small; however, in my defense, it was warm and the gravel, wood chips, and potholes certainly slowed me down – not to mention that I didn’t taper for the race, being that it was supposed to be a fun run. So, all in all, I’m pleased with my effort minus the last 5-10 seconds.

After cooling down and grubbing down a plate of snacks and fruit, I approached and congratulated the blond Asian lady. She told me that she had followed me the whole second loop, and I admitted that I had used her as a rabbit for the first loop! Then, I joined Jess and bt to walk a small loop (0.67 miles) that Brazen opened up in the last hour of the 6-hour event. Jess had just qualified for Marathon Maniacs and this was her victory lap/cool down. After suffering a slight setback mid-race with a foot sprain, Kate bounced back to finish strong with 28.76 miles.  We grabbed some barbeque, courtesy of Slow Hand of Pleasanton, which I enjoyed with a “fat Coke” (as Cathryn calls it).

Yay for running friends!

Yay for running friends!

It was a fun event and I was happy to support the 6- and 12-hour runners out there, especially Kate and Jess. Luckily for me, I still have one more race to run with them before they leave the Bay Area – the Big Basin 50K in 9 days!

This one's for you, Jane!

This one’s for you, Jane!

Official results:
time: 1:01:45 (9:10/mile for 6.74 miles)
1/12 AG, 4/44 F, 14/73 overall

About the race:
Organizers: Brazen Racing
Distances: Morning and afternoon 5K and 10K, 6 Hour, and 12 Hour
Cost: Tiered pricing, depending on distance and registration date.
Course: 3.37-mile loops with ~150 feet of gain/loss. Mixed surfaces of gravel, dirt, and wood chips, with a couple of short, paved portions. Mix of exposed and shady areas. One short section of true single track where it was hard to pass; otherwise, wide trails.
Parking: $3 to park in the lot.
Aid stations: Two aid stations about 1.7 miles apart, offering water, Ultima sports drink, fruit, and a large variety of salty and sweet snacks.
Bathrooms:  Outhouses and porta potties at the start/finish area, and one set of outhouses right before the midway aid station.
Swag: Finisher’s medals and t-shirts. Free photos available from Brazen’s Picasa site.
Post race food and drinks: Free BBQ with your bib; otherwise it cost $10. A wide selection of savory snacks (chips, pretzels, bagels with cream cheese) and sweets (cookies, cake, donuts, etc.).
Overall feelings: This is a great, well-supported, and well-organized event. I’d highly recommend it for anyone wanting to try a longer distance, as the course is easy (for a trail race) but the loops are long enough to keep it relatively interesting. In addition to the well-stocked aid stations, you can also set up your own site with a cooler and anything else you might need. I was happy to participate in the 10K, but the shorter races feel like an after-thought in some ways. If it were not for my friends who were running the 6-hour races, I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to sign up for this race. That said, if you want an easy AG award, this might be your best chance!


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Race Recap
5 comments on “Race Recap: Brazen Dirty Dozen 10K
  1. Jan says:

    Great race! It’s always so much more fun to run w/ friends. Bummer that you missed 3rd by such a short margin. Next year you’ll get ’em! 🙂

  2. Lani Teshima says:

    Oh my goodness, I’m that Asian 52-year-old with the blond hair!!! Someone just linked to your blog and I just read it. How neat!! Hope to see you at this year’s Dirty Dozen!

    • Jen says:

      Oh hi!! I think you beat me at Santa Rosa Marathon last year too! (I was trying to find my finish line photo and saw one of you finish a few ladies ahead of me).
      No DD for me this year but maybe I’ll see you at Brazen’s Summer Breeze?

  3. […] shortly after that, I got into long distance running and I started to understand. And eventually, I saw my friends run it and thought, “Hm, that doesn’t look so bad…” Because it’s a Brazen […]

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