I have really grown to love the small races. In particular, I love the Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5k that is put on each year in September. This race is located in Petaluma, California. Petaluma is a small town just north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. Known for its acres of farmlands and poultry industry, Petaluma is also a famous backdrop for movies. The movie, “American Graffiti”, put Petaluma on the big screen in 1973.
The Clo-Cow Half Marathon and 5k started 4 years ago in 2010. I was lucky enough to run the first year when it was called the Moo-Cow Half Marathon and 5k. I missed the second year due to injuries, but have subsequently run years three and four. The course is very challenging. It is not a course that you just go and do on a whim. You really must train for the hills. They are not little hills either and are rather sneaky in the way that they deceive the runner.
I have grown so comfortable with this race, that I do not even get the pre-race jitters any longer. I absolutely love every turn I take heading out to the farmlands and run with a huge smile on my face when I hit the down hills. I love taking the tangent of the curves on fresher legs while heading back into downtown Petaluma knowing that the funnest portion of the race still lay ahead.
Immediately after leaving historic downtown Petaluma, you are hit with a steady incline that leads you out to farmland. From there you are hit with a host of relentless, lactate threshold inducing hills. These hills are long and relentless with their slow inclines. You can see the course here: http://www.clocowhalf.com/#!course-info/c1xnv
Throughout the entire course there are many wonderful sights. The rolling hills of Petaluma are speckled with cows. You run by stables with horses. The course is filled with animals. They cheer for the runners with a steady percussion of moos, winnys, bleats, oinks, barks and whatever sound emus make – grunts??
This out and back course is full of wonderful volunteers. There are plenty of aid stations full of smiling volunteers ready to hand you a dixie cup of water or electrolyte replacement. Each volunteer wishes the runners well as they pass through. There is no shortage of encouragement.
The best miles to run on this course start at mile 7. From there it is all downhill. The fastest mile for me was and continues to be the last mile as the downhill works in my favor. Leg turnover is quick and light. Your legs are relieved that they are not taking the uphill beating that they were just a few miles before. Your final stretch is back through downtown Petaluma onto Kentucky Street where you finish in front of the famous McNear Building.
Chris Mason, the race director for Clo-Cow, puts on a great event. It is a relaxed race with a hometown feel. After a post-race hug from Clo, the Clover Stornetta mascot and namesake to the race, I shook Chris’ hand and thanked him for another wonderful year.
So long Clo-Cow 1/2 Marathon. I will see you in September.