Monday, May 29, 2017

Thom B 52k Trail Run 2017

With Cayuga Trails 50 just over the horizon, I signed myself up for the Thom B Trail Runs 52k. The small, local race is a four-looper around Hammond Hill State Forest. It would serve as a supported long run three weeks out from CT50, giving me a chance to test out gear and fueling in a race situation. One week prior to the Thom B, I committed to throwing caution to the wind and actually racing the 52k rather than running it leisurely. Hayley and I were leaving the next day for a week's vacation in the Pacific Northwest. I figured I wouldn't be running much during the R&R and would have plenty of time to recover from a harder 31-mile effort.

With that in mind, I find myself at the starting line on a drizzly Saturday morning, staring up a rutted-out, mud-soaked dirt road with the goal of running under 5:00.

T-minus two minutes to liftoff, and all of the sudden RD Joel,comes roaring up Hammond Hill Road in a rented box truck. He hops out the cab way too cheerfully for someone who's getting soaked in the rain at 6:58 a.m. and has already been setting up aid stations for the past hour. Joel—alter ego Mr. Hector, har har—hollers some pre-race announcements about how all us mild-mannered trail runners become fools the second we pin on a race bib, and reminds us not to do anything foolish like getting lost in the forest. Our main job is to ensure that the Search and Rescue team stays bored all morning.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Not Quite Dawn to Dusk at The Seneca7

The Seneca7 is like a scaled-down version of the Ragnar. Teams of seven race on the roads and circle Seneca Lake in a counter-clockwise direction, mostly sticking to New York State Routes 14 and 414, for 77.7 miles. Each team member completes three legs, passing the baton﹘or in this case, an early-1990s snap bracelet﹘to the next runner at the conclusion of each leg. The other six members who aren't running at any given time have a chance to rest while they travel from one exchange to next next in their team vehicle. (Unless of course, the team registered in the bike division. Then they cycle between exchanges and don't really get to rest at all!) The road route starts and ends in Geneva, NY, and runs through the heart of the Finger Lakes wine country while providing panoramic views of the lake and it's opposite shoreline. Several of the exchanges are even at some of the better known wineries.

When Hayley first proposed the idea of getting a relay team together for the Seneca7, I was immediately intrigued. I'd never been on a relay team before, and I'd heard a lot of good things about the event. We were easily able to recruit four other local friends﹘Ruth, Norah, Juan, and Nate. Juan's father-in-law, Jack, took the final spot. Jack is a veteran runner who'd previously convinced Juan into to take up running by registering for a ten-mile mountain run somewhere in the northern

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding: Scenes From the Breakneck Point 42k

Midway through the marathon, I looked down at the watch on my left arm and watched the seconds tick by. 3:04:59, 3:05:00, 3:05:01... "No BQ today. Ratz."

In fact, I was barely past the half marathon distance.

Then I took another good look at my right arm﹘the one I'd torn up into a bloody mess two hours and nine miles ago. "This ain't Boston. This is Beast Coast."

I'd been in a good groove on the first major decent around mile four, where the course drops 1,000 feet in just over a mile. One moment I'm enjoying the cool, crisp air as my legs can finally rest from the first big climb and the rocky, rolling slopes. The next moment I'm picking dirt from an open wound on my palm while the road rash (trail rash?) on my forearm tastes like burning. I guess it goes to show that at a race like Breakneck, you can't lose focus for even a split second.

***

Held in mid-April, the Breakneck Point Trail Runs 42k and 21k serves as the Upstate New York trail and ultra running de facto season opener. It's the first major trail race of the year to have a regionally competitive field and a large turnout

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Weekend on The Ridge

The Springlerack Fat Ass is basically a long, off-road group run through the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park on the Shawangunk Ridge. It's a chance to see some pretty cool scenery while completing a challenging route. On a clear day atop the 2,200-foot ridge, one can see the vast expanse of Hudson Valley to the east and the Catskill High Peaks to the west. Runner's can start at whatever time they want, with the goal of everyone finishing around 4 p.m. This was Mike Siudy's fifth year organizing the run.

The trails were closed in the western potion of Minnewaska thanks to a forest fire last summer. That meant this year's Springletrack was a modified, shorter course. We were to run from Spring Farm in the Mohonk Preserve down to the Jenny Lane parking lot on Route 44/55—a distance of about 20 miles. The traditional Springletrack course is about 25 miles, traversing over High Point, through Witch's Hole State Forest, and finishing further east at Berme Road Park in Ellenville.

I ran the fat ass with my friend Adam two years ago, and we ran together again this year. The weather was unbelievably nice in 2015, with some great views from atop the Shawangunk Ridge and trails that were mostly dry. We weren't so fortunate this time around. Temperatures were in the low-to-mid 30s and most of the singletrack was covered in mud or

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Altra King MT Review

Altra as a brand is known for two things—all their shoes have a wide toe box and a zero-drop platform. Their newest trail model, the King MT, is no different. It's a shoe designed for wet, muddy, and gnarly terrain. Weighing in at 10.2 oz and with a 19 mm stack height, the King is Altra's lowest profile trail shoe and best compares with their Superior. It retails at $140. 

A few months ago I received a pair of King MTs to try out, with no expectations of a favorable review—or for that matter, any review at all. I've put about 100 miles on the pair so far, over various types of terrain, and here are my thoughts.



When I first slipped the shoes on, I was pleased to see that the King MT fits true to size. Previous Altras I've owned ran a half size small, but the King doesn't have this issue. Altra's new EGO cushion, which runs the entire length of the shoe, felt much softer and more comfortable that the brand's traditional EVA cushion. The roomy toe box allows the toes to splay—something I've really grown accustomed to since I first began wearing Altras a few years ago. 

The main attraction is the traction. With deep, 6 mm lugs and a sticky Vibram outsole, the shoe handles very well on muddy, slushy, and snowy singletrack. The aggressive outsole does well to prevent slipping and sliding on hilly singletrack,

Monday, March 20, 2017

On Going "Old School"

The drab, grey, winter morning in Upstate New York was nothing to write home about. As I coasted along the shoulder of the asphalt, I'd sometimes veer over a little onto the two-foot-wide stretch of dirt alongside the campus road. The feel of some dirt underfoot, combined with a little imagination, helped to mentally transport me to some faraway singletrack—away from the cars and the parking lots and the generically designed state office buildings. The daydream would only last a few seconds. Sometimes it was the sudden impact as my feet returned to pavement, and other times it was a 25 mile-per-hour blast of wind to the face, that would snap me back into the present moment. Whatever the reason, I'd find myself back at the University of Albany in the midst of another five-lap jaunt around around the campus roads.

2017 was my fifth time at the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Winter Marathon, and the first where I was able to wear just shorts and a long-sleeve base layer shirt. Another year, another 26.2 miles around a campus with zero scenery in less-than-ideal running conditions.

Somewhere during the second lap my mind began to wander as I actively searched for a reason why I continued to run this marathon year after year. The only scenery is a bunch of brick buildings and some highway traffic and the occasional a

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cast-a-Shadow 6-Hour

It is a crisp, clear morning on the second of February. In a rural Pennsylvania town, a large crowd gathers around a nervous rodent, anxiously awaiting the critter's claim. A claim that may or may not clash with opinions of the country's top scientists. Confined to his tiny cell throughout most of the proceedings, the rodent is released from imprisonment by his caretakers—an elite group simply known as The Inner Circle. For the 131st time, the age-defying Punxsutawney Phil is placed atop a stump on Gobbler's Knob. It may be the truth, or it may be "alternative facts" drawn up to serve the self-interests of The Inner Circle—no man can say with certainty what the groundhog sees or does not see, and some may dispute how much of a shadow must reach his line of sight—that leads to an official decree across the land. To the rejoice of some, the dismay of most, and in contradiction to many a meteorologist, it is officially declared that winter will extend an additional six weeks.

So why the hell am I telling you this?!!

The Cast-a-Shadow 6-Hour Snowshoe Race has a few quirky rules, making it unique from a traditional timed race. The course is a 2.5-mile loop around Black Creek Park, located just west of Rochester, NY, in the town of Chili. The loop is pretty flat, with only 100 feet of gain. Like all timed races, the objective is straight forward—cover as many miles as possible within the allotted time. The low-key event is put on by Goose Adventure Racing, a race production business and