Jungle Run Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday's Jungle Run half marathon in Los Gatos was surprisingly good. I run the trail often and the start was only 15 minutes from my condo, so I figured running the half would be convenient but not very exciting. I went for it anyway because I had a free entry after volunteering at Morgan Hill last fall. I ended up really enjoying the event for many reasons - I know the trail so I know the quirks, many friends and running groups I know were there, and the jungle theme is fun.

I have been focusing on fun miles as opposed to serious training for the past month, and I never intended this to be a PR push. It was pretty much a shock that I came so close. This is the first time I've raced without the Garmin since owning it, and I loved not being attached to the pace on my watch. I was wearing my Timex, but the mile markers were weird and I didn't see many of them so I missed most of the splits. I knew I was in the 2:05ish range because I was near the 2:05 pacer for a while. My goal was to run comfortably hard based only on how I was feeling and to see where I ended up.

Hovering behind the 2:05 pace group, photo from RunningAddicts pacer Michelle

To my surprise, I ran 2:05:06, which is only 35 seconds from my PR in the SF 2nd Half. Part of me wishes I'd been paying attention to time to go for it because I was having a good day, but then again maybe I would have run too fast and fizzled out. Who knows. What I do know is that in SF the similar pace felt hard and yesterday this felt good. SF might be a little harder of a course, but let's just say Los Gatos is far from flat and had many true hills and long slow grades for a total climb of 471 feet. I did, however, enjoy the downhill grade at the end!

The first few miles of the course are on streets around Los Gatos, and at mile 5 you hit the Los Gatos Creek Trail at Vasona Lake Park. From there, you run the LG trail back toward the high school (aka the start.) The half does a short out and back on the gravel section of the trail, which was by far the worst part. It goes uphill on gravel for 1-1.5 miles and was very exposed to the sun. Luckily, you turn around and get the downhill grade after. The last bit of the race is around the high school track and then off to the side of the track for the finish line.

Photo from Go Far Run Group friend Meghan

Photo on my favorite gravel section, courtesy of Running Addicts group friend Linh

When I crossed the finish line, I was greeted by my track group friend, Sandy, who handed me water, gave sweaty me a hug, and put my medal over my head. It was awesome! After that I was excited to see three of my other track workout buddies who ran the 10K, plus many other Bay Area runners from the Go Far and Running Addicts groups. I have only been to a few events for each group, but they are so much fun and I need to go more (in other words, to get up earlier to meet them.)

 My signature medal pose.

All in all, I would run this event again. It was fun, I loved knowing so many people spectating, volunteering, and running, plus it was super convenient to where I live. The race organization was good overall.

Now, a few race details for anyone considering the event.

Logistics. Packet pick-up was offered at a running store on Friday evening, Saturday during the day, or at the start line. I went to get my bib on Saturday but it would have been super easy to do it on Sunday too. They gave out shirts post-race so I wouldn't have had to take anything back to the car. There was not a ton of parking at the HS but I didn't have a problem parking on the street in downtown Los Gatos. Many people were parking on the street downtown or in other residential areas, which is good to know for the future. I went to the HS and it was already full (not that I was very early, I arrived at 6:25 am for the 7 am start.) The porta potty line was soooo long but luckily moved quickly. It looked way more intimidating that it was. 

The Course. After going through the start arch, the course immediately goes up a fairly steep hill. Nothing like getting the calves working hard first thing. The hill ends and then goes into a nice rolling up and down for a while. Once you hit the Los Gatos Creek Trail it's an uphill grade, but it doesn't feel like much until the gravel section mentioned above. The course wasn't new and exciting to me, but I always enjoy the trail and today was no different. I liked the finish around the track too. One last thing to note is that the mile markers were strange; I either missed some or they didn't exist, not sure which. I heard others say they seemed off though, so it wasn't just me.

Support. I carried my own water and didn't use any of the course support, but they had water and electrolyte drink every few miles. This is a small race, which means less volunteers and less aid stations, but from what I could see they did a good job. I know how hard it can be in this situation from past volunteer experiences. The finish area had lots of food including bagels, fruit, snow cones, and more. Again, weird me didn't have anything because I wasn't ready for solid food and went home to eat.

Swag. Can I say I love that they give the race a theme? Each year, the Jungle Run features a different animal for the shirts, bibs, and medals. This year we have panda medals! Pandas are so cute, this made me happy.

Medal, shirt, bib. All pandas.

The end. Have a happy running week!


  1. You can never go wrong with a medal!! I love the swag!

  2. LOVE the Panda theme!! Don't you LOVE races close to where you live, makes it so much easier and less stressful. Can't wait to see you and Party Like a Flock Star on Friday!! Oh and BTW, you rock that bum wrap...I really need to get one of those!

  3. Congrats on a great time, especially Garmin free! You are kicking butt with your running this summer, keep it up!

  4. Pandas are my very favorite!! Congrats on such a strong race! Very cool and very proud of ya! <3

  5. Nice to read a recap on this race, I'm like you and have ran the LG Creek Trail a ton, so not sure that I would do the race. I have done the Dammit Run a ton of times though, that is a fun one. I hope to get back to that race next year. Also, what running groups are there in the south bay?

  6. I ran the Jungle Run half too! I totally agree that the last portion on the gravel is the worst. I've done it a couple of times on my own and always feel defeated here. At least the downhill back is nice.
    My recap (with a major PR!): http://tinyurl.com/ov3crgv

  7. Great recap! It looks like you had a really great race! I think sometimes it is good to run without the pressure of watching your time. The panda theme is super cute!

    Love your orange headband!

  8. Sounds like you had a really good run :) It was pretty fun out there. Sad that I didn't get to see you!


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