Wow! What an experience. First off, hats off and a big thank you to Jodi Isenor for organizing an excellent event and his dad for keeping track of all our times. The course was a very nice mix of everything imaginable for a trail race. The scenery was awesome! I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of trail vs logging roads and ATV trails. It was exceptionally marked as well. I have the world's worst sense of direction and I didn't come close to going off course - even when I was zoned out :) Secondly, the volunteers deserve more credit than any of the runners for staying the course of 10 plus hours with the most fierce crop of black flies I have ever witnessed. The volunteers were exceptionally supportive and helpful. Finally, before I get to my specific experience , I was blown away by the talented 50 mile runners - 3 of which finished under 8 hours on a course that was anything but easy. I am used to being a middle of the pack runner, but on this day I was by far the back of the pack.
Turns out I may have been the only 50 mile runner there not training for a 100 mile race later this year. I was tempted to put a100 mile stop on my list, but after this event, I realize what a huge accomplishment 100 miles must be. I think I will try another 50 miler, then 100 km event before 100 miles.
Sorry, back to the race report...the course consisted of 5 laps of a 6 km loop, 9km loop, finishing with a 5 km out and back. There were advantages to this: no need to carry gear, you passed your gear every 6 km and 9 km. You knew what terrain awaited you after one full lap. The biggest disadvantage was numerous chances to quit :) I absolutely loved the course and it was a great first 50 mile course for me since I didn't have a crew, I could setup my lawn chair and gear and have at it.
The first 6 km lap started uphill and passed a nice water dam on the right hand side of the trail, it was a sandy ATV trail I think - quite soft. It then turned into some very technical single track through the woods - very nice trail. It was quite wet in spots but I managed to stay dry for the entire lap. Once out of the woods it was back onto a rocky ATV trail uphill and onto a logging road - again uphill. It is funny that after several laps I began to look forward to the uphills to hike and not run. Mounds were uphills by the end of the race :) The logging road then went downhill and turned off onto a double track trail that I dubbed the pipeline. The trail followed a massive white pipeline which I have no idea of its contents...looked to be a normal waterline of some sort. For some reason I found this part of the trail tough even though it was not so technical. But once you were done this section you were pretty much back at the start line.
The 9km loop was my favorite even though it begins with a 4-5 km stretch uphill - with a few sections that are flat or downhill - however for the most part it was completely uphill on logging road with several very steep sections - and a nice lake on the right hand side towards the top. Once at the top however, it was very nice trail through the woods with a really nice downhill over dirt, rock and water. The first time I came down with some music cranked in my ears - I realized what trail running was all about and that I really don't care to run on asphalt ever again. I had a grin from ear to ear and I think I may even have been laughing it was so much fun. I couldn't wait to get to the top again :). Once were down and out of the woods on this trail, you looped back onto the logging road to go downhill back to the start line. What goes up must come down.
So once the full lap was completed, I was still on track with the plan to finish under 10 hours, however, I realized that I hadn't trained very much for hills and I didn't train on trail - sooner or later my times would drift.
By now, I realized as well that the rest of the 50 mile runners were way faster than me and I would be running solo most of the day. I did run several laps with Bruce from Dartmouth, a very nice man with whom I had much in common. He took several pics throughout the day as well- anxious to see those. After 2 and half laps I was still on pace to finish under 10 hours but I was slipping a little each lap. I met another woman on the trail who had finished her 2 laps for the 30 km race but was going out for another 6 km for fun. What a trooper, she has only been running since November and was already doing 30 km races and was registered for a 50 km next weekend.
The rest of the race was more or less bearing down and getting the miles in. My energy stayed good but legs were getting tired and sore. Mentally I was fine until halfway through lap four. I was a bit down when other runners were onto their last 9 km and I was just finishing my fourth. My wife and sister in law showed up about this time. My wife is used to seeing me pretty upbeat. I was down, a little frustrated and was getting the stupids as well. She is also used to seeing me about mid pack and I am dead last :) She approached Jodi after I left for the 9 km loop to tell him I am not myself. Jodi being a very experienced runner reassured her I was just down a bit mentally but physically I was fine (not !@#$ed up as he put it). Good thing, thanks Jodi, I bet she would have come out on the course after me :)
After the 4th lap, my stomach could not take in food or gatorade anymore. The best I could do was Pepsi and water. I need to work on nailing a nutrition plan. Not as easy as you would think after 8 plus hours of running. I felt very good my last loops of 6 km and 9 km, probably because I knew they were the last laps. But I was proud to still be running and not solely hiking - which I had mentally prepared myself to do if the legs weren't there. I finished the last loops and went back out for my final 5 km out and back. One of the volunteers paced me back on his bike from the turnaround I was glad to have the company. When I got to the finish, my mom, dad, kids and brother were there. What a day! My daughter and son said: "Daddy, you have been running for a long time!" I quickly put them back in the car before the black flies flew away with them. 10 hours and 31 minutes later I accomplished my first 50 mile ultra marathon. Yes, Daddy was running for along time. An experience I will never forget.
Thanks again to Jodi and all the volunteers as well as my family (my wife in particular) and friends for putting up with my training and running obsession. Can't wait to do it again :) Yes Jodi, that is a plug to make it annual :)