Follow the race on Instagram @gulchcountdown

Imagine a race that is open to all ability levels, designed to allow a pace conducive to socializing, yet also designed to challenge even the strongest of runners until there is only one runner left standing. Whether you are looking for a fun trail race to run with your friends or a race to push your limit and discover what you’re made of, this race is for you.

What is the Gulch Countdown?

The Gulch Countdown is a simple 2.18 mile loop in the forests of Japanese Gulch. Surrounded by lush ferns, knobby trees dripping with moss, and giant cedars, the rolling hills of the Gulch give you the feel of the mountains without leaving the backyard of Mukilteo. The Gulch Countdown is a timed race, but not in the traditional sense.

How does it work?

The Gulch Countdown is run as a series of 2.18 mile loops, with the first loop having a 32 minute cut-off. Those who finish ahead of the cutoff can use the remaining time for aid. All finishers within the cut-off then start the next loop together, running it within 31 minutes. With each additional loop the cutoff is reduced by 1 min. After 12 loops – a marathon distance – loop times decrease by 30 seconds until only one runner remains – the Last Person Standing.

The trails of Japanese Gulch – photo by Rose Freeman

“The inverse proportionate race format is a brilliant and much more interesting twist on the Big Backyard style of racing. It allows for the perfect blend of endurance and speed and I hope that Abram has started a new trend!”

– Zach Szablewski (1st at Gulch Countdown, 19th at Western States 100)2

Race Details

— Gulch Countdown: Last Person Standing —

Location: Adam and Josie Braddock’s Home: Mukilteo, WA.

Schedule: Register 7:30-8:00 am, Race Briefing 8:15, Race Start 8:30, Race End ??

Parking: Please carpool with another racer to park in neighborhood streets nearby. You can use this website to coordinate carpools. There is also parking for non-carpools at the 19th St. Trailhead or Tails and Trails dog park, each connected by a half-mile trail. There will also be parking at the 76th St. Trailhead (community garden) and we will shuttle racers before (7:15 to 8:00) and after the race as needed. Hint: You could park at the 76th St Trailhead, find another racer, and then carpool to park near the start area. Please park legally and be considerate towards our neighbors, thank you!

Aid Station: We will have an aid station at the start/finish area with food and drinks (water, gatorade, soda, bananas, potato chips, etc). We will also have homemade chili (meat and veggie), BBQ brisket, and pizza arriving at 12pm. To be fair to all racers, no aid is allowed on the course. We will have one porta potty available; please give preference to the people currently racing. We will have an area for runners to place drop bags near the start line. Please bring a camp chair if you want a place to sit!

Course: The single-track trail is 2.18 miles with about 250’ of elevation gain. The hills are on the north end of the course. (See map below.) For the first eight laps, each racer can chose which direction they want to run the loop course. Starting at lap nine, all racers will run the same direction, alternating directions each lap. In addition to the halfway point, the ¼ and ¾ points will be marked. We will have a short out and back on the road before each lap to assist with passing before entering the single-track loop trail. Once on the single-track, please allow faster runners to pass you. Please be courteous to other trail users (e.g. hikers and mountain bikers) as we are sharing the trails.

Strava route: https://www.strava.com/routes/16030473

Full course video: https://youtu.be/cjGejO5egas

Time Cutoffs: The first lap has a 32 minute cutoff. Those who finish ahead of the cutoff can use the remaining time at the start/finish area for aid. All finishers within the cutoff then start the next lap together, this time with a 31 min cutoff. With each additional lap, the cutoff is reduced by one minute. After 12 laps, a marathon distance, lap times decrease by 30 seconds until only one runner remains. (See table above)

Timing: The end of each lap is the same time as the start of the next lap. There will be whistle warnings for 3, 2, and 1 minute to go, then a verbal countdown to the start. After each lap completed within the cutoff, the person timing will check off each runner on a poster board. It is the responsibility of each runner to make sure they are marked on the board. We will have a countdown timer at the finish line so everyone will be able to see the time remaining when they finish. We will also mark the men’s and women’s winner of each lap.

Elimination: If you finish a lap after the cutoff (or decide not to start the next lap) you are eliminated from the race. Please let the person timing know when you are eliminated and we will mark your bib with the number of laps run. If all racers are eliminated in the last lap, the first racer to complete the lap is the winner. In the case where there are two runners starting a lap, the one with the most lap wins gets to choose their direction, and the other runs the opposite.

Prizes: The Last Woman Standing and Last Man Standing will receive handmade medals. There will also be “medals” and prizes for each racer. Placement will be determined by total distance run (including the final lap outside the time cutoff) and then by finishing order.

Fastest Lap Competition: There will also be an on-going competition (and special recognition) for the current fastest lap of the day for both men and women. For the first eight laps, the fastest lap racers must go in the clockwise direction.

Shirts: We will have race shirts and hats for the people who ordered them. At the race, we will also have some extra shirts, hats, and free stickers!

Volunteers: For those who are helping out, thank you so much! We’ll need help with timing, running the aid station, and taking down the course afterwards. Please contact me if you or someone you know can help!

Walkers: Anyone is welcome to stop by and run or walk a lap! You don’t need to be part of the race. To minimize disruption, please start at a start time after the racers.

What’s your limit?

– Abram Elwell and Adam Braddock