This past weekend was The North Face Endurance Challenge in Bear Mountain New York. We were on scene taking photos, videos and crewing for teammates, clients and friends. During the 50 Mile Endurance Run, I was filming near Aid Station #4 Lake Skannatati, mile 20.7. I made my way up the red trail towards Pine Swamp Mtn because I knew this was one of the more visually fun sections to watch runners make their way through. Its a pretty steep section of trail and winds its way through some large boulders and rocks. I watched the 1st place runner at the time come through and literally slide down a boulder full speed, landing on his feet. He was just as shocked as I was that he didn't fall. You will see this in the upcoming video that I hope to post by the weekend.
Then it was the 2nd place runner at the time, Jordan McDougal from the North Face Running Team to make his way through the same section and this is how it went (watch the video below).
Amazingly I watched Jordan slowly rise to his feet, shake himself off, stumble around a bit and then slowly jog away. It wasn't until later at the finish line that I noticed him standing on top of the podium. I was sure that he either DNF'd or just slowly made his way through the rest of the race, after all he still had 30 miles to go at that point!
I got a chance to talk with him afterwards and he said the 1st few miles after the fall were a little rough, especially when he went on to sprain his ankle just miles later. However he just kept himself together, caught the 1st place runner with 10 miles to go, dropped him and came in 1st place, which was Jordans 3rd win in a row at Bear Mountain and his fastest!
Here is Jordan McDougal's race report, click here! You will find out he went through a lot more then just the fall in the video. A truly incredible competitor and is why he is one of the best around.
Two weekends ago, I ran in the inaugural Flatrock 101k on the Elk River Hiking Trail in Independence, Kansas. This race was the brainchild of Epic Ultras founder, Eric Steele who has held the 50k version of the event in the fall with much success. The choice of this race was a win-win for me - not only did I get to run in a new state (in my quest to run in every state), it was well-timed as a build race in preparation for the Bryce 100 at the end of May. Despite my excitement, I went into the race with a good amount of doubt and uncertainty as this would be my highest mileage run to date and I just didn’t know how I’d fare.
I flew out to Tulsa, Oklahoma on Friday morning with a layover in Houston, all scheduled with plenty of time to spare. Things got off to a rocky start however as the FAA furloughs caused delay after delay leading to missed connections and increased nerves as I had checked my race gear and didn’t know if my running shoes would be in Tulsa to meet me upon arrival. (Tip from my friend, Elena: Never check your race gear if you can help it). Rather than a smooth arrival with time to lunch and lounge, I had to schedule a new connecting flight and rush from plane to rental car to race meeting. Luckily, I (and my gear) made it in time for the meeting, check-in and the pasta dinner! I was greeted at check-in (and at race day aid stations) as Grace from New Jersey (being the only NJ (or east coast) runner has its notoriety and perks).
Looking around the pre-race meeting, I saw that we’d be a small field as only 37 folks had signed up for the adventure. Eric Steele opened up the meeting with the characteristic exuberance and excitement that I’d seen in his videos (http://vimeo.com/51119180#at=0). The days leading up to the race had been overcast, rainy and gray and the trails were pretty soaked through. Runners chatted with each other and I heard several mentions of “mud”, “water crossings” and “slippery”. Water crossings? I didn’t remember mention of them so that got me curious. I later learned that there were LOTS of water crossings – streams, waterfalls, wet gullies and deep puddles that required a whole-hearted footy plunge at each pass. And, since the course was a 15 mile out-and-back trail, twice over, those crossings would become familiar from all sides. Oh, then Eric told us to avoid the barbed wire. What? Barbed wire? Was this a Tough Mudder run? Needless to say, I went back to my hotel and penned my emergency contact on the back of my race number, tout suite.
That night, I gathered up my race gear and thought through my nutrition. We had the option of drop bags at 3 different points, but having not run such a distance before, I didn’t want to over complicate things. I opted to carry my nutrition in 50k segments and eat off the course. In addition to it being a new distance and a new setting, I did what I’ve been told never to do – I tested out new gear on race day. My coach, Elizabeth had recommended using a handheld instead of a hydration pack so I reverted back to my Nathan handheld and tested out a new AK Ultimate Direction Vest to tote my odds and ends. In addition, I brought along a Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp for a first test run. Thankfully, the gear gods were smiling on me as both were comfortable and performed nicely.
At 6 a.m., 37 of us lined up for the run, headlamps cutting through the darkness. There was a light drizzle coming down and it was chillier than we had expected, but more than one runner promised that we’d warm up quickly once the race started. While waiting to start, I got to chatting with Candi, another runner who was tackling her first 100k distance. Little did I know we would be spending a good portion of the day together and cross the finish line hand-in-hand some 15 hours later.
The course started off with a short section of paved road which was a nice warm-up as we headed to the trailhead. Once on the trail the first 3-4 miles were the most technical with rocky scrambles and climbs. We all fell in line on the single track terrain and kept a comfortable pace in the morning dark.
Despite the drizzle, everyone was energized and in good spirits. Candi and I ran together mixing with other runners as we hopscotched with other groups along the way. For an hour or so on the way out, we managed to sidestep mud puddles and runoffs, thinking that we’d be able to keep our feet dry. That didn’t last long as we encountered our first significant water crossing that had us shin to knee deep in a stream. The shoe soak was liberating though and after that initial water baptism, we all seemed to tromp through the wet unfazed. At the Oak Ridge aid station just under mile 10, the volunteers informed us that we were the lead women. Lead women? I’m a solid middle-packer so this surprised me. This also gave Candi and I a bit of a competitive boost and we both found ourselves pushing to keep a lead. We got to the first turnaround at mile 15 together but on the way back to the start/finish line, Candi took the lead and held it well. I finished up the first loop in around 7 hours and headed back out for a second helping.
The second 50k was a trip down memory lane. I looked for familiar sights – trees, roots, rock galleries, the wonderful aid stations and volunteers, the dead armadillo at mile 10. Each passing landmark was a boost as it meant more miles in the bag. On the return trip I spotted Candi a few times with her good friend, Amber who was pacing her for the last 25k. Each time they seemed to be just out of reach so I resigned myself to second place. With about 5 miles to go though, I was able to catch up with Candi and Amber and we all settled into a rhythm. Candi and I decided then to finish together and though we were tired and achy, the last few miles running and hiking through the technical finish was one of the highlights of my day as the three of us kept each other’s spirits up. Nightfall came and with it came the sounds of coyotes and cricket chirps. Through that backdrop we ran, climbed, and scrambled our way to the end with a shared first place female finish and our first ultra buckles!
A big thank you to the folks at Epic Ultras, the wonderful volunteers, Candi, Amber and my MpFit / Campmor Teammates for their support. And last but not least, thanks to Elizabeth at Mountain Peak Fitness for her excellent coaching and for her endless encouragement and advice! Couldn’t have done it without you!
This video is of the Men's Cat 1/2/3 race. I was on scene taking photos of the days events including the great kids races they have each year. The photos will be posted on CRCA.net and I will include links to those as I post them. For now, I hope you enjoy the video and be sure to mark this event on your calendar for 2014 season!
After a long hiatus, CRCA was able to regain access to Orchard Beach as a race venue during the 2012 season, returning the Orchard Beach Criterum and its long history to the CRCA calendar. Now entering its second consecutive year the Orchard Beach Criterium continues to grow with the inclusion of community friendly kids races.
Another great weekend on the trails of Bear Mountain & Harriman State Park! Weather was perfect for the hundreds of runners that showed up for one hell of an adventure. The 50 mile, 50k, marathon & half took place yesterday and today there are several other races going on, including another fun kids race.
These videos are from The North Face 50 Mile Endurance run in Bear Mountain, New York. This race takes place every May. The course is very technical and runs through Bear Mountain & Harriman State Park. This area is a great place to train & adventure. It is also just a 40 minute drive from the George Washington Bridge. Let us know if any questions about the area.
Great day out on the trails today! I got chance to demo some great Niner bikes! Thanks Tom from Niner & Tahir from Campmor for setting things up! www.ninerbikes.com
Here is the bike Niner MTB that I spent the day on, the Air 9 RDO Hard Tail. The bike was really responsive, climbed well and handled everything without a problem.
MPF Athlete Evan Fineman placed 2nd in the Singlespeed-A-Palooza MTB Race this past Sunday! The weekend before he also came in 2nd in the Blue Mountain MTB SS Cat 2 Race. Here is his latest race recap from the SS-A-Palooza. Next up for Evan is the Wawayanda Spring Cleaning MTB Race this coming Sunday (May 5th), part of the H2H Race series. Evan races for CRCA/Breakaway Courier-CBOE.
This mountain bike race is always on my calendar as it's local (Newburgh, NY) and its singlespeed only. So the race is a sick 25 miles of which the majority is tight singletrack. This year they ran it as one big loop as opposed to two 12.5 mile loops like in past years. The race is capped at 300 riders with about 60 in my NJ Sport class.
The race starts with about 3 miles of fire road to spread the pack out and spread it did. I lined up towards the front as I knew guys would be running a bigger gear than I brought and therefore able to get away if i didn't pay attention. There was a nasty crash right in front of me on the road as a rider tried to squeeze through and wrecked a whole bunch of guys. I just avoided it and then had to work my way back up. I rode the road section like a road race - just drafting from bike to bike with the goal of conserving as much energy as possible for the singletrack and I found myself top 4 as we hit the woods, I felt good. A fellow local led the pack of about 10 for the first 10.5 miles. During which we had a lot of traffic to cut thru as our class was 2nd to last to go out. I worked my way up to 2nd and then at about mile 11.5 there was this steep hill and his gearing, legs or both failed him and I went by hard. I maxed my HR out and just went. I stayed all alone on the front for about 6 miles (thinking of Chapman style wins). At mile 14 there was a neutral pit stop in which I was told I could come in hot and my bottle would be handed to me but they blew that and I had to stop and wait for it...I lost about 10-15 seconds but my bottle came in handy later.
I was alone and my pace dropped at about mile 19 as I thought I had 6 to go. Unfortunately it turned out to be only 5...my bad. I got passed by the guy who ultimately went on to win by 53 seconds. Then at about mile 22 I got passed again and I hopped on his wheel as no one else was coming through. I was on his wheel with nowhere to pass and I blew the finish. As we came out of the woods I went to go out sprint him and then the race just ended...damn it. 1 second ahead of me.
So I had 3rd place at the end of the racing but at the podium the guy who took second wasn't the guy that signed up to race. So I am assuming in the official scoring I'll take back 2nd.
Result update: Evan did place 2nd as the rider was disqualified.
It’s 6 am on Sunday morning and I am waiting at the race start. Despite what you might think, I’m not nervous at all. Mainly because I started and finished the 50 mile race I had entered over 12 hours ago. I now had the privilege of helping to crew a runner attempting to finish his first 100-mile race. It has been a wild weekend at the NJ Trail Series’ Ultra Festival.
My weekend really stated when I got to the Sussex County Fair Grounds on Friday night to set up camp for the fun filled weekend ahead. The NJ Trail Series Ultra Festival, which I decided should just be called “UltraFest”, started three years ago as a 100 mile fastass and has now grown into a weekend of five separate race distances ranging from marathon to 100 miles, and has over 300 entrants. The race course consists of a 10 mile double out and back loop on an unimproved rail trail and road sections around the fairgrounds. And while the race is in a different location from the first years, what has remained the same is the overall flatness of the course.
After the race briefing, I was off on my 50 mile journey at 7:15am. The course starts with a mile plus run on a perimeter road before turning onto the trail. As usual, I got caught up in the excitement at the start and went out a little faster than anticipated, but quickly dialed back the pace. Once we turned onto the trail, it took about 100 feet before the mud started. We had a snowstorm earlier in the week, so I figured that there would be mud, but I just wasn’t sure how well the trail drained. I learned very soon that the answer was not well at all. The first section of trail was a short (about a mile) out and back section with a water drop at the turn around point. Racers were also on the honor system, as there was a gate with a sign on it that you had to touch before turning around. The second longer leg of trail was an over five mile out and back section with a fully staffed aid station at the turn around point. The muddy parts of this section were much worse than the first section, and in addition to the mud there were several old railroad bridges that required a heightened focus to cross without falling into the freezing water below.
I finished my first 10 mile loop in 1:38, which was a little faster than I had planned, but I still felt good. The great thing about loop races is that you pass a central aid point several times in case you need to make any adjustment to anything. The temperature hadn’t changed much from the first loop and everything I was wearing was working out OK, so I skipped my tent and just made a quick stop at the aid table to refill my handheld before heading out again. The second loop was very similar to the first loop, with the only exception of there being more people as the marathon and 50K runners were now on the course. If you want to do a race where you are looking to be alone, this is not the race for you. Due to the nature of the course, there is pretty much always another runner not far off.
I came in from my second loop and the 20 mile mark at 3:20. While it was an overcast day, the sun would break through briefly and it was starting to heat up, so I switched out my winter hat and grabbed my iPod for the third loop. At this point, the warming temperatures and hundreds of runners on the trail were starting to take a toll on the course. The muddy sections started to significantly expand and deepen, especially on the longer out and back section. Other than that, it was a perfect day for running, and I came in from the third lap, and the 30 mile point, at 5:20. I probably took more time at the aid station than I should have, but I was hitting that part of the race, and especially a loop race, where you have gone a good way, but you still have a long way to go. I grabbed some more food for the road and walked most of the perimeter road before turning into the trail. Despite my earlier low, the fourth loop went pretty well, and I managed to keep a decent pace despite the worsening trail conditions. I came in from the fourth loop at around 7:30, and was happy to set off for the last loop, and to get the extra boost of energy that came with knowing that you are almost done! I touched the sign at the turn around point, trekked through the mud, and ran over the bridges, all one last time, to come in for a finish of 9:45.
I would have loved to finish a little faster, but overall I feel that this was a good start to the race season, and I’m looking forward to another exciting year with the MpFit Campmor team!
By the way, if you were worried about the 100 mile runner from the beginning, he finished his race in just over 26 hours.
Mt. Tammany 10 – DWG, NJ 2013
The Mt. Tammany 10 is a close to 40 mile trail race on the Appalachian Trail on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap. There are 10 climbs of Mt. Tammany, which each climb having 1,200 feet of ascent. It’s a 10 loop course with descents on the backside of the mountain that you can really bomb down if you choose to trash your quads. There is also a 10 hour time limit. Hence the race name Mt. Tammany 10!
You have to be part mountain goat (or Wildebeest) to complete this race within the time limit. The field was limited to 30 runners for this race. Only 21 started in 2013, which is common for such a grueling event. There were 7 finishers with the majority of the field dropping out or being pulled for missing the cutoff.
There are some beautiful views on the trail, but with the rocks, snow and ice on the course there wasn’t time for sightseeing. A deep concentration was required to avoid falling and an injury.
After finishing second at the Mt. Tammany 10 in 2012 it had become clear to me that I lost that race to friend and future teammate Julian Vicente in the first 15 minutes of that race. In 2012 I power hiked each ascent. Julian ran each ascent. For 2013 I planned to run the ascents too.
Due to the foul weather I had only two good days of training on the course. One additional day was cut short due to a bad fall on the ice before I completed a full loop on the course.
When race day arrived I did not know what the course would look like in terms of conditions. I expected the worst because of a couple of snowfalls in the two weeks before the race and also the potential for ice on the trail from the warmer weather subsequent to those snowfalls. I came to the race prepared with one pair of sheet metal screwed trail shoes along with two extra pairs of trail shoes, microspikes and YakTrax.
The race started just about one minute late at 6:31 A.M. Sunrise had not arrived yet. I stayed with the front of the pack to get a good jump on running up the stairs that led to the first section of climbing on the Appalachian Trail. This was key to my race plan. I had to keep up with the leaders in the field early no matter how fast other runners pushed the pace.
Just before the stairs fellow MpFit/Campmor athlete Elizabeth Azze was to my right and another runner that I remembered from the Vermont 100 was on my left. I remembered jockeying back and forth with that runner from the VT100 for tens of miles. My main concern at that point in the race was to stay ahead of that person. I knew that they had both speed and endurance. Elizabeth and I could always work together as teammates if the field was pushing the pace early.
Once I reached the bottom of the stairs I ran out front and headed for the start of the technical ascents. As I made my way up the AT climb the sun rose and made it a lot easier to see the trail.
Once I reached some of the more runnable sections I looked back to see where the rest of the field was. This was probably about 15 minutes into the race. There was no one in sight and I could not hear anyone either. I reached the top of Mt. Tammany in 21 minutes. This was way too fast, but I had plenty of time to recover. It was going to be a long 38+ mile day.
As I started my descent on the blue trail I found that the trail had both snow and icy spots from being on the back side of the mountain where it got less sun. Not to mention rock fields of epic proportions. Although slippery and snow covered I didn’t have much trouble navigating down the descent and decided to stick with my Inov8 312’s that I was wearing.
As I came into the check in on the end of loop 2 I had time to see where the rest of the field was. To my surprise I was able to start my loop three ascent without seeing any runners. This meant that I had a 7 to 15 minute lead, which was exactly where I needed to be.
All I had to do was stick with the race plan and maintain even splits while looking over my shoulder for other runners. This is easier said and thought than done when you have another 6 hours plus of running to do. Although very early in the race it seemed that this was my year to get a sore neck from looking over my shoulder watching for approaching runners as teammate Julian had documented in his race report from last year.
Loops three through six passed uneventfully as I lapped a few runners. There were a few groups of up to 15 hikers that were gracious enough to let me pass without breaking my stride. Most of the runners and hikers encouraged me on as I pushed forward.
As I started the ascent on lap 6 I was reasonably comfortable that no one was within 20 minutes of me. I decided to start power hiking the climbs instead of running them. This was done to save energy, keep my heart rate lower and store some gas in the tank in case that someone caught me and I had to race to the finish. Even though I power hiked the remaining ascents I only lost 7 to 10 minutes of time. This was well worth the conservation of energy. My legs started to cramp while climbing the first steep technical boulder field. I took two Endurolytes immediately. I had been taking at least one a loop anyway, but I take an extra one when cramping starts. If this had been warmer weather taking two Endurolytes at this point after cramping had already started would have been too late. Normally I would have stopped to stretch when cramping in the legs starts, but today I decided to push on.
I started to pass some runners for the second time ascending on the start of loop 8. One runner told me that no one else had passed them yet. Although it was good to hear that I try not to count on what race volunteers or fellow participants tell me during races. They have been wrong too many times and it has cost me a higher place finish on at least 3 occasions (Randy, remember 20 in 24 in 2009?). I wasn’t going to slow down my pace.
As I came into the checkpoint at the end of loop 8 I received a lot of encouragement from the race director and volunteers. As I left the aid station the race director Alex Papadopoulos shouted “One more and it’s time for pie!” The Mt. Tammany 10 is truly a great race and test of will and endurance. Instead of a medal all finishers receive a rock that has been picked from the course and mounted on a really nice wood stained stand. It has an engraving with your name and the year of the race. As a bonus you also get to pick one pie from a fresh assortment from a local bakery.
I did not think about it at the time, but no one had confirmed to me how much of a lead that I had during the entire day. This is fine with me. I was sticking with the race plan anyway.
As I started the descent of my last loop I remembered thinking to be safe and not risk a fall that could ruin the day. The snow covered trail and rocks had turned to slippery slush revealing ice and more rocks beneath them. As I passed some of the hikers again they gave me more encouragement and actually remembered what loop that I was on.
Just before approaching the last mile I crossed the footbridge before coming into the Dunnfield Creek parking lot. I did not have to check my splits anymore and I looked at my watch to see the elapsed time. It was 8:38. This was the only time during the race I looked at the elapsed time to determine if I could improve my time from last year or maybe even break the course record. At that time I thought that the course record was 8:42, so I figured that I would just miss it.
On the road about a third of a mile from the finish I remembered that I started my watch early before the race clock started and I may actually have an elapsed time of less than a minute vs. what my watch showed. I would usually slow down at this point since no one was behind me, but I decided to keep my pace just in case I had a shot at the course record. I knew that my time would be better than last year.
When I finished my watch said 8:42+, so I thought that I had just missed Julian’s record time, which I still thought was 8:42. The race director knew that I was buddies with Julian, so when I finished he mentioned that I broke Julian’s record and he asked a volunteer to check the website for the official course time.
I usually run with an Ironman watch to keep track of loops and a Garmin to track heart rate and mileage. It turns out that since I started my Ironman watch early my Garmin time was closer to the race clock time. My Garmin time was 8:41+. The official course record was actually 8:45:28 and I finished in 8:41:46. I just made it!
After my race I waited for teammate Elizabeth and the rest of the field
to start coming in as I chatted with the race director, volunteers and
Nick “Storm Trooper” Bautista. Elizabeth took the Women’s race and just
missed the course record by mere 26 seconds! Elizabeth finished third
overall just behind Jason Friedman. Marge Ascari was the last official
finisher placing 7th, but proved once again to be an animal for
finishing a race that is not for the faint of heart.
Overall it was a great day for Team MpFit / Campmor!
Last day of March and another great day on the trails with the team & friends! We kept it an easy pace in order to recover from a hard March of training & racing. Looking forward to April!
10 Climbs, over 12000 ft of gain in 10 hours
A hearty group of runners gathered at the base of a looming giant that would later challenge our heart, will and desire in epic proportions. I’m not saying its Mt. Denali or Everest but the terrain would challenge our ability to move forward as we chased the 10 hour cut off in Everest proportions.
Mt. Tammany is undoubtedly the most technical (extremely rocky) trail in the area, and has one of the largest differentials in New Jersey, the mountain rises 1,200 ft in less than 2 miles and due to a recent snowstorm some sections were covered in snow and Ice. Yup, now lets get ready for what a group of 14 of us call fun.
I met up with my fellow teammate Harry Hamilton and client Grace, each of us had different goals for the day, Harry's was to win or to better his time from last year, Graces was to complete 6 laps and I was there to test my current fitness level & mental strength with the ultimate goal of finishing the race. Last year I dropped on my 7th loop due to a nasty fall that left me with pretty bad abrasions and unable to bend my knee for a few days after.
27 degrees at the race start, I opted not to over dress or use a hydration pack. I wore 1 long sleeve under my team shirt, capris, ankle gaiters, gloves and a hat (I hate overheating). I carried one 20 oz water bottle and a tiny waist pack big enough to carry 4 sport gels and a bar, the goal was to be light and efficient for this one, especially since I would be running by my car once per hour or less so it would be easy to make adjustments.
As the race started I found myself in familiar company, Kathleen Daumer Cusick who is a longtime strong fellow ultra runner friend (last years female winner). We chatted about what our summer racing plans were, I congratulated her on her stellar performance and win at the Vermont 100 last year, then boom before we knew it we were climbing. I saw Harry bolt off as if he was running a 5k. I was left wondering how much snow and ice we were about to encounter? I did have my microspikes in the car, I thought to myself I hope I can make it my first go around without them.
Navigating a steep incline with rocks, snow, ice and later a snow covered steep descent, takes a different skill set than a typical trail running race. I concentrated on my steps the first time around so it would be a little easier the next time. I took mental images of the trail of where I can run, where I will fast pace walk and where would I find that perfect rock to sit upon and enjoy the view, lol.
I was right behind Kathleen during the beginning of the first loop, she seemed to have trouble navigating in the snow and ice in fear she would re-injure an old injury. So, I quietly passed with caution because I was well aware of making an early move and of her ability. Yes, we were racing, ultimately against the clock but you know we are still racing and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t competitive when in shape or out of shape, who am I kidding... I took the lead and heard others follow, we moved swiftly through the terrain to the first viewing point, the sun was just rising, the orange glow gave sign of a beautiful day ahead. At this point my best friend / enemy, my head, was feeling great, a couple of runners passed me and I was intrigued by their pace, great job I yelled! I continued on at a strong pace knowing I had to do this 9 more times. Finally I got to the top and saw 2 runners taking the time to take photos, I thought to myself, Oh how nice, I should have brought my camera but then I snapped myself out of it and said I’m not even wearing a watch.
The reward for reaching the top was a great view followed by a not so great slanted technical trail that really offered not a step of unfocused running. At that moment I promised myself I would run this section every loop until I got to the downhill. The downhill came and I felt an instant temperature change, my gloves came back on. This section was covered in snow and ice but who cares, I love running downhill, this was my reward. I blazed down with nothing but joy! whoo hoo! 1,200 ft of downhill, some would say a time for rest, but we know better, the constant eccentric contraction of your quads, will fatigue you more if not properly trained, let it rip! I quickly got to what most people would call the nicest section of trail, a flat section free of snow that paralleled a beautiful waterfall and small creek. This section I nicknamed the yellow brick road. Due to the fact at the same tree every loop I found myself with the urge to urinate and it was close to the start / ending point of a new loop.
The 2nd loop went by in a flash, I was still feeling good! I had to remind myself at the end of this loop I have to return to the start / finish area, which was 10 miles down the road, no just kidding it was about a half a mile but as the day progressed it seemed like 10. This little section gave us an opportunity to see the other runners. I saw Jason and another fellow runner leave the aid station, we smiled at each other and waived. I sprung up the steps to the pavilion to the aid station and quickly turned around. As I was headed back to start loop number 3, I noticed Courtney was maybe 5 minutes behind me.
3rd and 4th lap is where other fellow outdoor enthusiast started to crowd the trail, completely unaware of a race going on until we started to loop them. According to trail info the expected time per loop is 3 hours, but we were trying to complete 10 laps in 10 hours! It was entertaining to watch people try to navigate the terrain, some were wearing fashion street boots, jeans while others had full on gear. Families with small children, dogs, really all walks of life were driven by the same goal, to get to the top of this mountain and down.
I Completed lap 3 & 4, when I went to the aid station I noticed we were all holding the same pace, Jason, Courtney and the friendly smile that I never met. 5th and 6 lap, I got to the aid station, stopped for a bit and talked to the RD’s, telling them how long the mountain seemed than prior. I fished for some meatless, dairy free items, ended up with some sport gels and s-caps. They hurried me out knowing someone was on my tail. As I left 3 mins down the road I saw Courtney, waived, smiled and yelled great job!
7th and 8th lap, I put on my music which offered a huge boost and allowed me to stop thinking about how challenging this was becoming and how loop 8, 9 and 10 seemed impossible. I was able to focus on the task. I only run with one ear piece in so I can hear other people and runners. What made my day is when the fellow hikers caught on to what we were doing and became our cheering section, one women said “wow you are so inspiring, if you can do this 10 times, then I can do it once!".
9 and 10, I caught up to Jason we talked a bit, it was nice to chat with someone after 8 hours of talking to myself. He stated how surprised he was that he wasn’t able to run all 10 loops, I laughed, and said, really!
My thoughts of my fellow teammates who were racing today Chris, Julian, Zsuzsanna, Grace and Harry drove me to pick up the pace. Although our feet were in different places our hearts were probably in the same place. Finally the last lap came, I yelled out “profanities, lets get this thing done”, I don’t care if I ever step foot on this trail again, who cares about the view etc.. lol.. Jason took the lead at the top of the mountain but I didn’t care, I blazed down the last descent of the day which was now more like glissading due to all the foot traffic. I couldn’t resist my last pee stop then turned it on. I threw my water bottle at my car and sprinted full tilt to the finish, happy and proud that I finished this amazing challenge. Congrats to everyone and especially to my fellow Mountain Peak Fitness/ Campmor teammate Harry Hamilton, who showed extreme strength, power and determination by winning and setting a new course record! Just amazing! Because of you I know I can go sub-10 next year.
Thank you to the Athletic Equation, Alex, Dennis and Volunteers and thank you to my amazing Mountain Peak Fitness / Campmor teammates, your support and true team spirit is what fuels me to push beyond my limits. I’m excited and looking forward to the rest of 2013.
Today it was great leading the RBNY Cycling Team on their Spring Classic Ride! The weather and conditions couldn't have been better for this time of year! We headed out from the Bear Mountain area with the goal of riding as many of the dirt roads and steep climbs planned for the day. Here is the route that we followed, click here. For some, the days totals were, 65 miles ridden, 7700 feet of gain, 25+ miles of dirt roads and plenty of 20% + grades.
Thanks to Elizabeth & Julian from the Mountain Peak Fitness Trail Running Team for the SAG support!
For the 2013 racing season, I wanted to challenge myself with new courses & competitors. I found both at the Chilly Cheeks 7.2 miler in Reading, Pa on February 24th. The race is one of many put on by Pretzel City Sports and was part of the La Sportiva Cup Series as well as a USATF Mid-Atlantic championship series race. Being part of both series ensured top notch runners from all around would be there. They were.
On race morning my wife and I drove out to Reading for the race. It was only about a 2 hour ride. The race had an 11am start time so it was nice not to have to rush out to early. Check in was held at a “social” club at the race finish. It offered a warm place to wait for the race start. I warmed up on the course by running the finish out. From what I saw it was going to be a hard race. As race time neared, the participants walked the ½ mile to the race start. The weather was somewhere between cool & chilly. I got to the start and took a spot in the front. At about 11:15 we were given the start command. The race headed down the road, made a right onto a path and another right up a hill. And I mean up a hill. No trail or path. Just straight up the side of a muddy hill. It required hand over hand & grabbing roots to get up. Competitors slid down beside me but I made it up. We came out back in the lot we started in. The course then turned down the road the other direction & then we turned onto the trail.
From the start the pace was hard. I was pushing to stay toward the front. The trail immediately started to go up. A long up. I tried to settle into a good pace. I was passed by a few runners then passed a few myself. The course was hard. It was up & down the whole way. At times there was no trail at all. We hit a long downhill & came out on the road to the first water stop at 2.5 miles. I grabbed a quick drink. Back into the woods and a long uphill followed yet again, probably for close to a mile. It soon evened out some but was still hard. I had a runner close in front of me & on my heels. Soon the 2nd water stop came, 5.2 miles down. We continued on a long fire road and eventually we were going up a steep section yet again. The very top needed hands to climb up again. At the top we hopped a wall, ran the road a bit, then hit the trail for a long downhill. It was rocky, the type of trail I like to bomb down. But it was tight & I had trouble passing people and got stuck behind a small group. I soon recognized the trail where I warmed up and knew the finish was coming. I tried to push the pace some but the group stayed with me. There was a steep rocky hill to climb before the finish. I managed to pass 1 runner. 4 others were right ahead. I tried to kick to pass some more but could not close the gap. I finished in a time a 1:01:47 in 31st place. I was hoping to do better but I ran my hardest.
The course was hard for a start of the season race. There was top notch competition. The race was by Jordan McDougal, a runner from the La Sportiva racing team. Post race there was a band and free breakfast. All in all, It was a good trip. Though I did not do as well as I would have liked to, I found a tough course and competitors to race against. I plan to head out there again.