7 Tips on How to Run Noble Canyon 50K as Your First Ultra


Noble Canyon 50K was my first trail ultra in 2011, and is popular among newbie ultra runners. It’s a very challenging course with some tough climbs, but an amazing accomplishment for all who finish.

I raced Noble again in 2012, and shaved five minutes off my finish time. I also had the honor of watching many of my friends complete this as their first 50K. I strongly recommend this race for any trail lover. Here are some tips for a strong finish:

1. Train Hills

Hill training is your best friend for this race. Hit up as many inclines as you can. One friend of ours did most of her training on a treadmill at steep inclines. So not having hills in your area is no excuse!

I found that training at a steeper grade than Noble this year made the course seem more “runable”. One popular training run is to run up and down Noble Canyon, a total of 18-20 miles on the most technical part of the race.

2. Conserve Energy

The real trick to Noble is to keep your legs fresh for the final upper loop, after you come out of the Canyon. A lot of this section is runnable, but by the time many runners get there, their legs are so shot from the climb that they’re walking.

The race starts at the top of Noble and runs down into the Canyon while you’re fresh, so it’s easy to start fast and blow out your legs. By the time you get to the bottom and turn around, the ascent can really take it out of you. Walk the inclines that you can’t run on the ascent, and focus on conserving your energy as much as you can.

I was doing a slow jog for most of the upper loop, and passed about 15 people who were doing a lot of walking. Some of them had been way ahead of me, flying the downhill. Run smart and save your energy.

3. Run Cautiously

The Noble Canyon trail is very technical and rocky. It’s not worth flying the downhills if you’re going to turn an ankle or take a bad fall to knock you out of the race. Learn and practice good downhill running form. Strong footing will go a long way here.

Practice descending technical trails as much as you can, and don’t go any faster downhill than what you’re comfortable with. Sometimes falls just happen, even to the most experienced runners. Try to roll into a fall and loosen your body to lessen injury.

4. Soak With Ice Water

Every aid station at Noble has a bucket of ice water with sponges in it, so you can soak your head and the back of your neck to cool down. Take a minute to do this every chance you get! It’s well worth it, and goes a long way to improve your performance. It feels amazing and can perk you right up!

5. Be Flexible

If this is your first 50K, there are so many factors that are beyond your control, so try to roll with the punches on race day. Some years it has been over 100 degrees in the Canyon, and temperature makes all the difference. When it’s hot, the Canyon has “heat traps” in some sections. You can literally feel like you’re running through an oven. Be flexible with your goals, and be patient with yourself. This is not an easy course.

6. Hang Out

I love the friendly and supportive atmosphere at Noble. Most finishers hang out at the finish line for hours, cheering on the other runners. Bring a cooler with some beer and hang out to chat. There’s chili at the finish line!

7. Celebrate

If you finish this race, that’s an amazing accomplishment! This is a true trail race, with all the best qualities of an ultra. If you can’t run it, consider volunteering or just coming out to cheer and support the runners. I was thrilled to be part of this race. And FYI: the Noble tech shirt is my favourite race shirt. Wear it proudly!

Here is a video of this year’s event:

Direct YouTube link HERE.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Noble Canyon 50K Race Report

Final Thoughts Before Noble Canyon 50K

7 Lies You Believe About Ultra Running

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5 responses

  1. Newbie first timer here: yes to all the above. Special shout out to Jeff, aide station angel. Dehydration at mile 18 sucks but having jeff as an aide station volunteer, priceless.

    BTW, I saw you a couple times throughout the race and couldn’t get myself to say hi. I have read your blog too much and had celebrity fright.

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