Official Race Photo (I did buy this one)
Holy crapballs batman, what a ridiculous trail race. I've done many a race in my day, ranging from 5k's to mountain 100 milers (Leadville). This was without question the most technical and idiotic course I've ever run. The only places I've gone through worse were on my Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hikes. As far as a review, I'll keep it pretty simple. First some stats. I had a pretty good day, for a moderately conservative run. I finished 29th out of 299 runners with a time of 3:43 (12 min/miles). I could have gone a little faster/harder, but didn't want to push too hard as the Laurel Highlands 50k is this coming weekend. The overall and mens winner, a local State College native, scorched the course in just under 2:38. The women's winner was another local animal, Meira Minard, who finished in 3:18. The weather....perfect. Partly cloudy, mid-70's, good stuff. My strategy was very simple for this race: Be comptetive, run solidly, but don't push it. Also, I told myself to push a little at the start in order to get out into a decent position. The course pinches off to a tight single track after about a mile and it makes passing a bit difficult. I wanted to get up front so that I didn't get to far back during the slow climbs.
I'm not going to spend too much time going over course details. The bottom line is this. There were effing rocks everywhere, and not a lot of flat sections. Most of the rocks were littered all along the trail and just big enough where they made trying to find good footing almost impossible. In a few places (i.e. Shingletown), there were insane boulder scrambles both up and down. In a couple of spots they had ropes set up to help get down with...it was that steep. Almost all of the climbs were too steep to run (at least for me), and some of the descents were so steep I had to walk/shuffle them to prevent wiping out. It really was that ridiculous. I rolled my ankle more than once, and stubbed my right big toe pretty hard (it's still a bit bruised today).
I felt pretty good all day. Never super tired, but perhaps a little dehydrated. I ran most of the day with 4th and 5th place womens' finishers: Caitlin and Annette (who both ran great races). I experimented a little with nutrition during this race. Instead of Hammer gels, I went with a combination of Stinger Honey gels and Nathan's Peanut Butter Packets. I also nibbled on some dates, kept my salts up, and tried to drink less gatorade. It seemed to work great as I finished strong and wasn't too tired. The only thing I forgot was the gummy bears (doh!). Heart-rate averaged in the high 150's, so just barely still in the aerobic range. In the end, I do think I ran it a bit hard as I'm more sore today than I had expected.
The atmosphere for this race was fantastic. Great people, good support, awesome aid stations, and AMAZING post-race food and goodies. There was even a beer truck! I didn't stay too long at the end though, and I'm not sure if I got a finisher award (a rock mounted on a piece of wood - seriously), but I had an absolute blast doing this race. So glad I decided on a whim to take a stab at it. The only big mistake I made was not wearing my more sturdy/hefty trail runners. I went with my more minimalist shoes and my feet paid the price. Banged up a bit, but otherwise ok. Anyhoo, that's about it. As soon as some pics are posted, I'll try to put them up here. (The pics below are from Bryon Powell's blog)
Bryon Powell (irunfar.com) posted a blurb about the race too: Bryon's Recap
Race leaders climbing the infamous "Shingletown Climb" (Photo: Bryon Powell)
Equipment and Nutrition Stats:
Hydration: Nathan X-Trainer 1 Bottle Mutation Belt, Gatorade and additional water at aid stations.
Salts: Two Endurolyte tabs
Nutrition: Two Honey Stinger Gels, 1 Nathan PB packet, ~5-6 fresh dates, and a handful of pretzels at aid station 4. I also had a Honey Stinger "waffle" but didn't eat it.
Clothing: Icebreaker Merino 150 shirt, Patagonia Nine Trails shorts, Headsweats cap, Darn tough wool 1/4 socks.
Shoes: New Balance MT101's
Additional: Polar RS100 heart-rate monitor, Sportslick gel, and mild DEET repellent (for ticks)
Calories Burned ~3200, max HR:178 bpm
Evil Granola Bars!
....oh and on a completely unrelated side note, I ran the entire race with a sizable hole in one of my teeth. Now that's hardcore! No...but seriously, friday afternoon a piece of one of my molars literally broke off while eating a granola bar. Not a filling...but an actual piece of my tooth. The good news was it was on a tooth that my dentist said he wanted to put a crown on soon anyway. So not only was I walking like a sore trail runner this morning, but I got to have a Novocain needle jammed into my cheek at 8:00 am. Talk about some wonderful post-race recovery...ahhh, good times. Incidentally, this tooth chipped on the exact same type of granola bar that I lost a filling on while thru-hiking the PCT last summer. I have decided as much as I love them, they will no longer be a part of my cuisine. So beware of these evil tooth-killing bars! *shakes angry grandpa fist*
Some more race photos (probably won't buy these)