So let’s get this straight. Over 10,000 feet of elevation change, never more than three steps without being interrupted by a rock, root or mud pit, humidity level of 80% at race time, and you just end up right back where you started? Hmmm, sounds like an exercise in futility to me.
But wait, people pay good money for all of this and more: free potatoes, pretzels, candy, pb&j’s and all the sports drink you can consume at not one but six different aid stations. OK, I’m listening. Cool T-shirt, a pair of arm sleeves, post-race meal and a free beer!! Wait, did someone say free….hey, count me in. Now, what do I need to do? What?? 31 miles???
The North Face Challenge had its Northeast regional event last weekend at scenic Bear Mountain, NY, and for the second year I participated in the 50K event on Saturday morning. In addition to everything mentioned above, I got to run on one of the most scenic courses around, with challenging terrain (rated 5 out of 5 for difficulty) and a rugged band of crazies crashing the trails. Although nearly 60 would not finish, (some due to injuries but I suspect most due to the humidity) we had around 220 finishers in total for the 50K.
With my training partner Ron leading the way, we managed to average a 12:26 pace for the course, which was good for us, and we were able to shave nearly an hour off last year’s effort, finishing in 6:25:00. We even made it into the top 10 of our age group! Of course it is a bit disconcerting to see one of the 50-milers breeze by you along the way, but those folks are nuts anyway!
North Face does a great job with this event, very well-organized and structured. If you’re of a mind to get into trail running, do some training first then look to one of their events. I believe there are six different locations around the US, with distances range from 5K up to the 50-miler.
This 50K finish was the culmination of several months of training, and serves as a great base from which to work through the rest of the year. Rumor has it Ron wants to join the nutters on a 50-miler later in the year. For that, I put my foot down. At least two free beers or I’m not going!