Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Oil Creek 100 Course Scouting

With the Oil Creek 100 on the horizon, I decided to hunker down and get serious about preparing for the race in order to set myself up for a sub-24 hour finish. Two weekends ago, with t-minus four weeks until game time, I drove out to the course to get familiar with it. I'd never been to Oil Creek State Park in Western Pennsylvania, and only knew the course as it is presented on the race website. With Hayley out of town and me with no other commitments, it seemed like an opportune moment to get a few long runs in on the course during the peak of my training.

The Oil Creek 100 consists of three 50K loops around the park. Each loop starts and ends at Titusville Middle School. Runners follow a mile and a half of paved roads and bike paths to the trailhead, traverse the park loop comprised of mostly rolling singletrack, then finish the loop following the bike path and roads back to the school. Three such loops total only 93 miles, so runners then must complete the seven mile "Going Home Loop" to finish the distance. This mini loop follows the same bike path as before, plus five new miles of singletrack. The event also boasts a single loop 50K race and a two-loop 100K. The 100 mile race is a Western States qualifier, and serves as the RRCA 100 Mile Championship race for the state

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Belt Buckle

It sits alone, one of its kind, longing for the companionship of others of its ilk. Yes, since taking up residence on a desk in a spare room last September, the Virgil Crest 100 Mile Belt Buckle has spent many a night alone, no other buckle in the vicinity. This buckle has many cousins in the form of finishers medals, pins, plates, and pint glasses. But the twelve ounces of solid pewter that is the embodiment of a hundred mile journey remains the first and only of its species in this abode.

Many months ago, I got to thinking of what I could do to provide a more nurturing environment for this treasured inanimate object, and so turned to Maslow's third level of human needs. With the beloved Virgil Crest recently departed from this world (see obituary below), it is impossible to bring home a brother or sister to the buckle, so a friend of similar nature will have to suffice. Something that represents hard labor, struggle, and sacrafice, at a level comparable with the Virgil buckle. Something that must be earned and is far from guaranteed. Something that, when looked at and held, will provide a catalyst for a great flood of memories—some good, some bad, and some ugly—that will make for spectacular campfire storytelling

Monday, September 5, 2016

On Monsters and Devils

The Monster 

 

You really can't find a better marathon for $35. No fancy swag, shiny medals, or chip timing. Just 4,000 feet of gain over singletrack and some park roads with some good people and good food at the finish. Welcome to The Monster Marathon.

The original Monster course was a double out-and-back on the Finger Lakes Trail at Kennedy State Forest in Virgil. For logistical reasons, including some trail rerouting and the closing of Gatherings Restaurant and Event Center where the race was staged, the race was relocated in 2015 to Robert Treman State Park in Ithaca. Despite the new location, the original race format remains the same - a double out-and-back, (or single out-and-back for the accompanying half marathon), low entry fees, and handicap start times. These attributes are what gives the Finger Lakes Runners Club's only marathon a unique flavor, setting The Monster apart from most other trail races.

With the age and gender-graded start times, runners start off in waves. Older athletes start earlier and the ladies go before the men. Some sort of mathematical formula is used to calculate each runner's head start over the "open field," with start times calculated down to the minute. This creates competition between older and younger runners. Final standings are