Eric Charette will be at the Life Without Limits Half Marathon this Saturday in Florence, AL. The race course will take runners through both the city streets of Florence and across two bridges that span the wide Tennessee River. Dewey Peacock will be racing at the Montana Cup, a cross country team oriented event. It pits teams from each of Montana's seven largest towns against each other for the right to claim the Montana Cup "traveling" trophy for one year. This year's host city is Billings, Montana. There are separate races for male and female teams. Mark Lundblad will be racing the Ridge to Bridge Marathon. This point to point course starts in Jonas Ridge, NC and descends almost 3,000' to the Brown Mountain Beach Resort in the Pisgah National Forest. This scenic course covers 7 miles of paved back country roads and the rest is on a nice gravel road surface.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Earlier this month I participated in fourteen orienteering events in two weeks. A few were big, serious races in some really spectacular terrain, others were local meets that I was able to attend in between. One of these 'local' meets provided minor navigational challenge but allowed all-out running - if you could keep your eyes off the scenery!
The sprint race at Niagara Falls was hosted by the Buffalo Orienteering Club on Goat Island, the hunk of rock that separates American Falls from Horseshoe Falls. What the course lacked in navigational intensity (map) it made up for in the views.
As in most orienteering races, this one had a staggered start, each runner starting with 1 minute of separation before the next. Because of that you generally feel like you are running a time trial - it's possible to run the entire course without ever seeing one of your competitors or knowing how you stand. In this case I started a minute behind New England Orienteering Club runner Jeff Saeger and knew that it would be possible, but tough, to catch him. At the start I watched as he ran off and disappeared around the building and I got ready to go. The first control was visible from just after the start, and the second was no problem, around a sculpture. The third control (see views link above) was right on the edge of the viewing area for American Falls and the only way down was a staircase that was occupied by a lot of clearly befuddled tourists. At this point Jeff and I crossed each other, he on his way out of the control and back up the stairs to the next. This next leg (to #4) happened to offer the only real route-choice on the course. I chose to stay low on the rising path rather than take the stairs, which seemed to pay off - I reached #4 clearly having closed the gap on Jeff. But I had started running really fast and didn't know if I could maintain it.
The next several legs were fairly straight-forward and I tried hard just to run hard and straight. By the spectator control (#12) I think I was within 15 seconds of Jeff. I had pushed so hard to get to that point that I had a bit of a brain fart - I ran in what I thought was the right direction... only it didn't quite make sense. It took me several seconds to realize that I was misreading the lower terrace on the map and was about to go way off track! Since Jeff was in control and didn't muff that one, that cost me a bit in the race to catch up. I pushed the last two legs and powered in to the finish with a time 13:02 - hadn't caught him but I came to within 12 seconds. That time was good enough for 5th overall on the course and first woman by over 2 minutes, so I was certainly satisfied with my run. However, that little goof on 13 cost me in breaking 13 minutes, a time the course setter didn't think anyone would break! Of course, they didn't need me to break 13 - the fastest man on the course, Darius Konotopetz, ran 10:50!
This was a nice treat after the really tough racing the weekend prior in Hamilton, ON. That terrain was steep, with sticky clay mud hampering uphill progress. Navigation mistakes there were costly. The Niagara Sprint, in contrast, was almost a road running race, with a few bits of navigation thrown in. It was pretty awesome to run through the gawking tourists and have the mists of the falls showering us as we ran!
Roclite 319 Shoe Review
· 4-arrow Shoc-Zone with lateral and medial posting
· 12 mm differential / 6mm foot bed
· Comfort fit (generous fit) & Unisex offering only
· Roclite outsole with the Inov-8 fascia-band· Endurance rubber outsole
· Weight: 319g / 11.3oz (US men’s 9)
· Cost: $105.00 retail
The new Roclite 319’s are now out on the store shelves and I’ve been able to put my test pair through the ringer over the last few months. The new Roclite 319 is a nice replacement to the discontinued Roclite 320 and in some ways the discontinued Roclite 305.
I’ve put a good 400 miles on my 319’s and I’m very pleased with the results thus far. They still seem to have more miles left than in them, thanks to the endurance rubber outsole and keeping these shoes on mostly soft surfaces. I’m somewhat surprised as the dual density midsole seen in the former 320 was replaced with a softer single density midsole in the 319. I expected quicker wear and breakdown of the midsole but so far so good. I like the wider fit than the 320 especially in the toe box. I heard from many other 320 end-users that they felt the same way. It was a little too narrow in the toe area. If you have higher volume foot you will probably be pleased with the fit of the 319.
The 319 last is basically the same as the Roclite 295, so it has a similar fit. It differs from the 295 in that this shoe has 4-arrow cushioning so you do have lots of cushioning/shock protection but slightly less real trail feel (responsiveness). The single density midsole lends to a softer more cushy ride. The upper construction gives the 319 a more supportive feel as it wraps well around your foot so this helps to compensate for the higher12 mm platform. There is plenty of upper protection from anything the trail will throw at you. However you can expect a little less breathability in this model due to the upper. The medial and lateral posting gives this shoe some extra support. The 319 is billed as Inov-8’s “transition” shoe, for those who are new to having a slightly more minimalist shoe and for those runners who might be used to overly cushioned or supportive trainers.
The 319 has a similar feel much like the old Roclite 305 since they both have 4-arrow cushioning and single density midsole. It does however stand apart with the extra support and more roomy last. I also hope that runners who have enjoyed wearing the 295, Flyroc or Terroc models will also appreciate the new 319 fit. I believe with all the barefoot excitement in the market currently, that this shoe might be a good choice for those who could benefit with a more gradual transition from a more to less approach with their footwear choices.
I wear the 319’s mainly for training purposes. I do appreciate having it in my arsenal of shoes for days my legs and feet might need a change from my more responsive and lower profile Inov-8 models. This shoe is perfect for long trail efforts on various terrain and the trade off in the higher heel to toe differential is compensated well by the supportive ride. My main concern when trying this shoe was this higher differential and the increased potential for rolling my ankle on technical trails. However this has not been a problem thanks to the construction of this model and the wider platform.
I’ve heard only one bit of negative feedback thus far, in that the medial collar of the shoe rubbed on the inside ball of the ankle for one wearer. Perhaps this issue could be fixed with a thicker insert or foot bed? One thing that some Inov-8 customers may not know is that we offer 3mm inserts in addition to our more popular 6mm insert that comes with most of our models. This helps to dial in that more precise fit. I’ve found that this model runs true to size much like Roclite 295, Terroc or Flyroc models. If you are in between shoe sizes opt for ½ size down.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Slide Mountain Loop
6400’ of climbing
My wife’s family lives in New Paltz, NY, which has some of the finest trails I’ve ever run at the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park. I never really felt the need to go north into the Catskills; I guess Escarpment gave me my fill of that region for the year. Running Devil’s Path earlier this year definitely got me interested in exploring other trails besides Escarpment, and I soon realized that a loop around Wittenberg, Cornell, and Slide mountains would make a perfect long run. Unlike some ultra runners, I still really enjoy 2-3hr long runs. Most of this is probably to the fact I don’t have time to do anything longer! Actually, what I like about relatively shorter long runs is trying to do them hard, rather than just putting time on my feet. I wasn’t sure how long this loop would take me since I have never been on any of the trails, but my initial guess was 3-3.5hrs. I hit the road at about 6am, and started up the trail from the Woodland Valley campground around 7:20 or so.
Let me back up for a moment. If you like to drive, heading from New Paltz to Woodland Valley by way of Mohonk, route 213 and route 28A over the Ashokan Reservoir was one of the best drives I have ever done. The roads were empty, the trees were on fire, and it just one perfect turn after another. I almost skipped the run and just turned back to do it again!
My actual run started up the Wittenberg Cornell Slide trail, which gets right up to business. My legs were not liking the early climbs, but I just eased into it. With over 2500’ of climbing in the first 3.5 miles to the summit of Wittenberg, not all of it was running. I passed a woman at about a half mile in, and then had the trail to myself the rest of the way. It was a perfect cool and dry fall day, and I was looking forward to the views from Wittenberg. Right before the 3500’ sign, I passed one of the finest campsites I have ever seen. It was right on the shoulder of the mountain on a small ledge with expansive views of the Devil’s Path and the Escarpment to the north. The campers were just getting coffee going, and I snuck by on the trail as quietly as possible. There were a couple more ledges, and then I was suddenly on the summit rocks. I usually feel that my camera takes decent pictures, but I’m unhappy with the photos from the top of Wittenberg. I don’t think any camera could have done the job, though. It’s a spectacular view from the Devil’s Path to the shining Ashokan to the Slide Mountain Wilderness. The air was perfectly still, the foliage was approaching peak, and it felt like I had just stepped into a painting. In the year since we visited the Alps I’ve gotten a bit depressed at times about not living in a place quite as spectacular as Serre Chevalier. When I was on top of Wittenberg, I suddenly realized that there are places just as spectacular close to home, I just don’t take the time to visit them often enough.
The descent and ascent from Wittenberg to Cornell Mountain was a really fun section of trail; technical, but still runable for most of it. The crux of the climb up Cornell was the Cornell Crack, which reminded me of Exit Cracks on the Eiger that I climbed as a young lad still in diapers. I suffered a bit with the altitude, but finally struggled up to the summit, which didn’t have great views. However, there were several nice views on the way down Cornell to Slide Mountain, intermixed with multiple ledges that made for a fun descent that could be run quickly.
It was a bit hard to follow the trail on the plateau between Cornell and Slide, but I didn’t lose too much time. The ascent up Slide was about 1000’ and became steep enough for a couple of ladders towards the top. Knowing that this was the last big climb, I pushed the pace hard, and my legs were shot by the time I reached the summit. There are no views right from the summit, and I missed the side trail leading to a viewpoint. This was probably because I was running 6 minute pace at over 4000’ on the most runable section of trail over 4k I have ever seen. I’m sure it’s not any fun to hike, but it was pretty wild hammering down off the summit of the highest mountain in the Catskills at that pace. I got down to 5:45 pace at one point. The trail become more technical at times after that first mile, but it was still a very rapid way to lose altitude.
I passed the first hikers I had seen since the my climb up Wittenberg about halfway down Cornell and I then took a right onto the Phoenicia East Branch trail to the trailhead on route 47. I had to run on the road for a mile or so uphill until reaching Winnisook Lake. The Winnisook Club owns the prime piece of property around the lake, and that is a club I would like to belong to someday. Fortunately, they do allow access to an old carriage road at the north end of the lake, which allowed me to cut out a section of road. This section of trail reminded me a bit of the roads at Mohonk, without the fine gravel.
The trail became a bit rocky as I passed the intersection to the Giant Ledge trail and rejoined the Phoenicia East, and I had to watch my footing with all the fallen leaves hiding the rocks. After a particularly steep descent, there was the last hill of the loop. It was only about 300’ high, but it was moderately steep, and my legs were done with climbing. The lower section was a long stone staircase that must have taken an impressive amount of work to construct. It reminded me of the stairs on the Skyline trail in the Blue Hills.
There was only about a mile of downhill back to the parking lot, but the footing was pretty rough, with one section similar to the nasty talus field at the start and finish of the 7 Sisters near Amherst, MA. I stopped my watch at 2:47:09. According the map, the loop is about 15.1 miles. My GPS track is 17.1 miles, but some sort of alien interference added a couple miles after Lake Winnisook. I was back in New Paltz by about 11am. It was a great long run loop that I highly recommend.
My GPS track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/52532008
Monday, October 25, 2010
Amy Lane (pictured with a good war wound) continues to bolster her running resume with yet another overall female title. Amy won the Bimblers Bluff 50k this past weekend in 5:16:40. Amy is the CR holder for this event and came within a minute or so of besting that, despite getting lost along with many others at one point. Another high achiever week in and week out is Jim Johnson who took 3rd OA in a speedy 15:31 at the Great Bay 5k in Stratham, NH. Back on October 3rd, Ben Nephew took the overall win in 36:38 at the 6.2 mile Houghton's Pond Trail Race in Milton, MA.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Last weekend I put together a brief write up on the new inov-8 x-talon 190's but really put them to the test this weekend. Earlier today at the Xterra Monte Sano 15km/5km race in Huntsville, Alabama I wore these for the 5km race. While co-race directing the entire event, I chose to run the shorter distance, which did not have much climb, but still had technical footing and was actually about 3.25 miles long. I wore the new 190's and felt like my feet never touched the ground once! They were just the right amount of shoe to battle against the rocks and light enough that I could run at top speed without being bothered with excess weight on my feet. The aggressive tread provided superb traction and with my foot so low to the ground, I felt stable even on the short road section. I managed to hold 5:48 pace and take the overall win, made possible by these sweet shoes. If you are not running in them by next weekend, you are making a mistake.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The orienteering community was abuzz with the coming of the Oroc line from Inov8. A new line of shoes, designed specifically for orienteering, that might actually be comfortable!
Of course, some terrain is rougher than others, so when the Oroc line was announced I couldn't wait to try those out, too. I opted for the Oroc 280s since, as the lightest shoe in the line, they seemed most what I was looking for - the less shoe the better. They're also similar to the X-Talons in many ways, which certainly excited me. I rece
Michele Hartwig will be at the Javelina Jundred in Fountain Hills, AZ. This race is billed as a 100 mile trail run party! Amy Lane will be at the Bimbler's Bluff 50k+. This race is in southern CT, consisting entirely of rolling forest roads or single track that can be extremely rocky. Amber Moran will be on a smoother surface at the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. Kevin Tilton will be staying on soft surface at the Mayor's Cup 8k cross country race at Franklin Park just outside of Boston, MA.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Jim Johnson set a new marathon PR at the Bay State Marathon finishing 7th OA in a smoking 2:27:33. This marathon serves as the NE-USATF Marathon Championships. Peter Maksimow was 2nd OA at race #2 of the Pikes Peak Fall Series. Kevin Tilton ran to an 11th OA placing in 27:45 at the Topsfield XC Festival.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
By Eric J. Charette
I have never seen so much hype over the release of a running shoe that has lived up to its billing as the “Worlds Lightest XC/Mountain Racer” as the inov-8 x-talon 190 has. I have been reading about this shoe since January of 2010 when Jeff Browning initially wrote about them, followed by some online reviews out of Europe, so I had been looking forward to the US release of this shoe in August like it was Christmas. When they arrived in the mail I couldn’t wait to put them on and hit the trails.
The design of this shoe is best described a hybrid of the slightly heavier x-talon 212 and the F-Lite series from the inov-8 line, taking the best of each shoe and resulting in the most comfortable trail running shoe I have ever put on my feet. I love flashy colors in footwear, so the candy-apple red color of these shoes was right up my alley. From the minute I took them out of the box, I was amazed at how light they were at less than 7 ounces for my size 12.
This shoe has a 1-arrow cushion (Shoc-Zone), which ranks as the as the lowest on the 1 to 4 scale that inov-8 produces for trail shoes. I have been wearing the 2-arrow x-talon’s for most of my running at distances under a marathon, so this was an easy switch to the 190. When I put them on, I could tell how low my foot was to the ground, yet in a stable position. These shoes have a 9mm heel and a 6mm forefoot height, resulting in only a 3mm differential drop. My test run was on the ultra-rocky and technical trails of Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville Alabama, at the foot of the Appalachian Mountain Plateau. Just like it’s big brother the 212, I was able to feel the rocks and roots as my foot would flex over them. That has always been my favorite attribute of these shoes; the fact that they are so flexible, allowing my foot to roll over trail obstacles naturally, as opposed to a plastic plate in the forefoot, that makes competitor shoes rigid and stiff.
I tried different paces and different inclines on the test run to simulate all facets of the footsktrike from the heel to midfoot to forefoot on the climbs. Each time I was amazed at how light I felt on my feet, yet having enough protection on my foot where I was never concerned about what I was stepping on. The aggressive lugs on the bottom seem to perfectly positioned as to not produce any hotspots while allowing you to evenly distribute your weight over the entire shoe. I also tested the sticky rubber compound on the lugs by running over some wet rocks and each time they stuck solidly with zero slippage. I was able to step on any surface including slanted rocks coated in moss with confidence that not only would I not slide, but I was also able to push off without any slip.
I really like that the tongue and heel collar are padded, providing some support for the foot in these areas. Some racing flats eliminate this padding to reduce weight but inov-8 has found a way to maintain it, while keeping the weight low.
I was a little concerned that I would have some trouble fitting into this narrow-looking shoe with my wide forefoot, but after wearing them, I found the material on the lateral seemed to expand slightly with my foot and did not put any uncomfortable constriction on my occasionally painful 5th metatarsal. I ordered the same size as I had been wearing for the x-talon 212’s and Roclite 295’s. I found that they were a little long and I probably could have gone down a half size. I probably would not wear these for a technical ultra marathon where I would worry about my feet swelling and I certainly am not going to replace the footbed with an insert, so the 11.5's might have been a better choice. The only issue with the sizing is that I had to cinch down the laces to where the uppers almost meet in the middle but this wasn't a problem.
Over the years I have gradually worked my way down through the inov-8 line from the highest cushioned shoes now down to one of the lightest. This has been a change for me that required a few years to transition my body and get my feet used to less and less. I would recommend these shoes to anyone who has been wearing the Roclite 295’s or similar and looking to make the transition to a lighter weight trail or cross country racing shoe. While I went through the 212 first, since they are somewhat similar, you probably could make the jump right to the 190’s. I plan to use this shoe at for high intensity, short distance trail racing across all types of terrain.
Now that I have the 190’s at my disposal, I feel like I have a full arsenal of inov-8’s for any distance and any terrain. Ever since I opened the box, it has been Christmas evert day for my feet! Thank you inov-8 for another outstanding and innovative shoe.
Todd Braje got his 3rd USATF National Championship yesterday at the Tussey Mountainback 50 Miler. This was his second win in a row at Tussey and he did it in CR fashion with a blazing 5:43 time. Teammate Dave James was not too far behind in 2nd place OA with the 3rd fastest time on this course in 5:52. The near perfect weather conditions and some sensible pacing early on helped them reach the podium.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The USATF National 50 Mile Championship (Tussey Mountainback)is this Saturday and we have former 2009 champ Todd Braje back to defend his title. Dave James will also look to be upfront contending for top honors. The course is a 50-mile single-loop mostly unpaved course through central Pennsylvania's scenic Rothrock State Forest during peak foliage season. This Sunday, Peter Maksimow will be at race #2 of the Pikes Peak Fall Series. A 5 mile course in Bear Creek Park, CO. Also on Sunday Jim Johnson will racing at the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA. Lastly Kevin Tilton will be at the Topsfield XC Festival 8k at Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, MA.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Jared Scott wins the Flagstaff Mountain Trophy Championship with a 1st place finish at the Soulstice Trail Race in Flagstaff, AZ
Photo Taken By: Josh Steinlage
Last Saturday, I competed in the Soulstice Trail Race...Flagstaff's premier running event. The Soulstice (as it is referred to) is a race that many Flagstaff runners look forward to every fall...in fact, registration closes in April due to the 200 runner limit! There are two races that go on at Soulstice—a long and short course. The long course is my all time favorite race because it is a tough "Figure 8" with the first loop consisting of a rocky, rolling, dirt roads and the second loop being single track through the mountains with a huge climb and steep decent with a gradual uphill finish. The short course is the mountainous second loop of the long course. Also, I love Soulstice because the scenery is beautiful, the people are great, and awards ceremony has plenty of beer, hot dogs, and raffle prizes for everyone. Additionally, I own the course record for Soulstice long course which I set in 2007 and have won it 2 out of the last 3 years. The Soulstice is also the final race in the Flagstaff Mountain Trophy Championship which pays out a good chunk of change to 1st and only 1st place in the series. Going into Soulstice this year, I was only ahead of my buddy Chris Gomez by about 1 minute in the Trophy Championship, which isn't much when you have a rough 11 mile trail race at altitude to compete in. But either way, I knew it was going to be a good competitive race.
The weather was amazing for the race, there was frost on the ground at race time but the sun was steadily climbing above the trees and there wasn't a cloud in the sky...absolute perfection. I chose to wear the Inov-8 f-lite 230’s because the sticky flat sole would allow me to literally roll over the round rocks on the course, and also feel and respond to any other rock, root and rut on the trail. In the beginning of the race, Chris pulled out to a quick lead covering the "7 Sisters" section (a section consisting of 7 small but steep, technical hills in the first 2 miles of the race) at a good clip with me at his heels. I eventually was able to pass him a mile later when the course "smoothed" out. We completed the first loop which is about 5 miles in about 30 minutes, with me a few seconds ahead. The second loop is my favorite part of the race because there is a grueling 600 ft climb that goes up to 8600 ft! The very first time I did this race, I felt like I was going to cry because this climb hurt so badly. After the hill, begins a windy and fun downhill section that goes over plenty of rocks and roots to make it more interesting. I was able to handle the hill fairly well this year, I wasn't gasping for air as much as the previous years, and I knew that I could be in contentions to set a new course record. I looked back a few times and did not see Chris either so I knew that I'd probably be pushing myself through the long downhill. As I approached the final decent, I was still leading and was getting really excited because I knew that I might be able to get the course record if I went all out on the final mile. I got down the hill with 1/2 mile to go and about 3 minutes left to get the course record. I thought I was going to get it...but I underestimated how tough the final 1/2 mile is (I usually do). Although, it is a gradual uphill, it's a pretty tight single track with many rocks and lots of traffic because many short course runners are also finishing, too. As I crossed the finish line, I saw I was just shy of my course record with a time of 69:24...the record is 69:10. Overall, I finished in 1st place and won the Mountain Trophy--a good day.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Dave James won his second marathon in a row with a time of 2:43, this time the venue was at the Towpath Marathon in Peninsula, OH. Abby Mahoney won the Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race (10.5 miles) in a speedy 1:34:55. This race is held in Monroe, MA amidst the beautiful fall colors in the Berkshires. Jim Johnson won the UNH Homecoming 5k in 15:35 also setting a new course record. To top that off Jim got married 3 hours later, I hope he showered after the race. Kevin Tilton won the 12 mile course at the Mountain Epic trail race in Newry, ME in a time of 1:38. Dwight Shuler ran a strong race at the New River Trail 50k and got 3rd OA in 3:46:49, plus he got himself a new trail 50k PR in the process. Michele Hartwig (pictured) won the Filly Division title at the Farmdale 30 mile in East Peoria, IL. This was the last race in the Illinois Grand Slam where Michele was the 2nd overall female for the series this year.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Dwight Shuler will be at the New River Trail 50k. A flat 50k course that follows along the scenic New River and Chestnut Creek in the New River Trail State Park in VA. Cristina Luis will be at the Golden Leaf Orienteering Fest in Hamilton, Canada. Kevin Tilton will be racing the 12 mile course at the Mountain Epic Race in Newry, MA. The 12 mile course covers 8 peaks and 3300' of climb. On Monday Amber Moran will be at the Tufts 10k for Women on the streets in Boston, MA.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
GREAT RANGE TRAVERSE
10,000’ of climbing
I grew up hiking in the Adirondacks with my family and friends. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to get up there to hike over the last 15 years. I go home to Plattsburgh regularly, but we usually don’t have time to fit in a hike. This past weekend we headed up north for my stepfather’s surprise 60th party, and my Mom wanted me to have an excuse for Steph, Gavin, and I to be coming home. She asked me if I had a race. I’ve been trying to figure a time to run the Great Range all summer, and this appeared to be an invitation. I told her I did have a race, but only I was running, and it was more of a trail than a race course. The Great Range runs at 8 of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks over 4000’. It doesn’t run over them, it runs at them.
I have now done a few of these long mountain runs, and while they are all hard to describe, I’m having an especially difficult time figuring out what happened on Saturday morning. There is an excess of data. I’ve hiked most of the mountains in the Great Range when I was much younger, but running over those trails is a very different thing. Compared to the Pemi Loop and the Devil’s Path, there seems to be more of everything: mountains, climbing, rocks, ledges, roots. I know there are just as many mountains, and bigger ones, on the Pemi, and definitely more roots on the Devil’s Path, but there are differences that make the Great Range seem more difficult. I better just get to the details.
Jan Wellford set the fastest known time on the Great Range last fall in 6:40. With no running experience in the Adirondacks, I had no idea how fast this was, so my only plan was to try and run with a similar effort to when I ran Devil’s Path. I started from the parking area off of route 73 at 7:10, and then stopped to sign the trail register. I lost about a minute here, and also decided to stick my Garmin in my hipsack. The watch irritates my hand, especially when I have use my hands to climb, and I thought it would still get a signal back there. Apparently it didn’t get a signal unless I was in the open, and it also lost the satellite coming down Lower Wolf Jaw, resulting in a loss of 46 minutes. Luckily, what is left is enough to show most of the route, and I had my watch running as well. I wore both my watch and my Garmin after I realized I wasn’t getting a signal.
One of the nice things about the Great Range is that it has a warm-up peak. Rooster Comb is short little outcrop with excellent views, and you hit the summit about 2.5 miles into the run after a bit of mostly runable climbing. I took some early morning shots on the summit ledges, and headed back down towards Hedgehog and Lower Wolf Jaw mountains. I was a little behind Jan’s pace after Rooster Comb, but considering the signing in and the pictures, I seemed to running a similar pace. I ran most of the way up Hedgehog, and then down towards Lower Wolf Jaw. The running came to a stop at this point due the first of many ledges. This is where the trail ran at the mountains. No western style switchbacks, just straight up. This can fun, for a while, for tall people. I am not tall, and it took me some time to figure out how to get up some of the ledges. The upper section of Lower Wolf Jaw was one ledge after another. I could feel my sore right quad that tried to tear itself apart at last weekend’s 50k, and began to wonder if it was going to hold up with all these steep climbs. The views from the summit provided a great shot of the Range, and a took a few more photos. My running time was at 1:27, which put me 14 minutes ahead of Jan’s time.
The pace felt a little too hard, and I still had hours of running ahead of me. I also knew that I was likely to lose time on the descents, and I was just starting the big drops. I hopped off Lower Wolf Jaw and experienced the descent of Adirondack Ledges. Jan ran his time with poles, which are very handy on steep terrain, but I’m not comfortable using them. Whether you have poles or not, going too hard on the descents will definitely cost you time in a long run like this due to all the pounding. I tried to keep things under control, and still hold a reasonably fast pace. This col between the Wolf is apparently so steep that satellite could not see me in there.
The scramble up Upper Wolf Jaw had plenty more ledges, and I was grabbing anything I could do make forward progress; roots, moss, dirt, tiny rock nubbins. I got just about to the top of one huge boulder, and then slid all the way back down on oily slick black mud. I made it to the top at about 1:53 in, still about 14 minutes ahead of Jan’s time. I was starting to think I wouldn’t be running much faster, as trying to run and claw and jump any faster could be very counter productive if I fell. There really weren’t any good spots to fall, and a lot of spots where if you fell, you might stay there.
I was able to run a bit heading down and over to Armstrong. After my frustration with the earlier ledges, I was pleased to see a tall ladder up a virtually unclimbable ledge. I reached the top sooner than I expected at about 2:10 into the run, once again about 14 minutes ahead of Jan’s time. I’m not sure how our splits compared on the descents and ascents, but I’m guessing I was gaining back lost time on the climbs. I took a few pictures, and proceeded to drop off the summit to the base of Gothics, which was a very short trip.
Gothics had its share of ledges on the climb, but the real excitement was on the other side. The summit itself was spectacular, you couldn’t find a bad view, and I took photos in every direction. I knew there were cables going down Gothics, but I had never descended that way. Most of the descent is a small rock slide, where things would get very difficult without the cables in wet weather. My 320’s had good grip going down the slide, but I took a slide myself when I hit a wet patch. My knee went into a branch on the side of the trail, but there was no major damage. My quads were definitely a bit tired by the end of this long downhill, and I knew I had some big climbs coming up.
Saddleback was steep, but manageable, and I hit the summit at about 2:47, 16 minutes ahead. The wind was getting a bit wild on the summit, so I didn’t stay for too long. In the trail guide for this section, they advise not to descend this way with packs. That’s pretty good advice. I had to stop spend a good amount of time trying to figure out how to get down some of the ledges. They would drop 6-8 feet, with a landing area of about 1-2 square feet. If you missed, you would either end up impaled on stubby pines, or bouncing down the next ledge, or two. Go for a hard long run, climb up a 6 ft ladder, and then jump off onto concrete, and repeat. That will give you a good idea of how it feels to descend Saddleback and Basin. I had a couple close calls on the way down, which definitely made me back off the pace under I reached safer terrain. It was nice to start up Basin after that.
My sore right quad was actually feeling better on the climb up Basin. I hit the summit at about 3:08, which put me 19 minutes ahead after the long ascent. The wind was very strong, which made an exposed ridge right before the summit very uncomfortable. I almost felt like I was going to get blown of the mountain. It was too windy to get out the camera, and since I was only wearing shorts, I was getting pretty cold on the exposed summits. It took some effort finding the trail as it zig-zagged down some more tall ledges. I was a bit too ambitious on one ledge, and my feet were tingling from the impact when I landed. I refilled my bottles on the way down Basin, and was excited when I was suddenly at the intersection with the Haystack spur after a bit of climbing up a rocky trail.
I started to push the pace on the climb up Haystack, but I lost the trail a few times and was only 17 minutes ahead of Jan’s pace on this section. The views were unreal, and I’m glad I took some time with the camera, as I didn’t realize the clouds would soon be moving in. It was still windy, but not as bad as on Basin. I had a lot of fun descending the exposed summit rock, but I had to slow down once I got back in the woods. The big downhill leading to the Phelps trail got progressively more technical. By the end, I was hopping my way down a wall of boulders.
I got excited as I spotted the sign for the trail up Marcy. My legs were feeling good, and I wanted to try and push this last climb. The section of trail is 1.3 miles with about 1250 feet of climbing. I was able to run a few of the less steep sections, and hit the last summit of the day at about 4:27 on the watch. It was funny passing all the hikers, who were in parks, pants, and winter hats. The weather had gone out the window, and summit was buried in a cloud, it was pretty cold, and the wind was picking up again.
All I had left to do was to drop over 4k in 9 miles back to my car at the Garden. The Great Range wasn’t giving out any free passes, and the next few miles became my personal gauntlet. Once I cleared the nice summit area, I soon hit the boulder pile that I had just climbed up. Besides the poor footing, the stubby pines are only about a foot apart on some sections, and they were trying to take my skin off.
The real fun began when I passed the trail leading to Haystack. The next 3 miles had the worse footing of the entire loop. The boulders were covered in dried mud, which was extremely slippery, especially if your shoes got wet. The log bridges in this section were more of hazard than a help. They were narrow, and some were rotten and had crucifix size nails sticking 8 inches out. Tripping on these would be bad; falling on one would be ugly. My first fall was on an elevated log bridge above some watery mud. My right foot slipped, and yup, I straddled that big tree and almost changed genders. After taking a few moments to hug the log to avoid rolling into the mud hole, I made sure I was intact, and proceded slowly down the trail. I was physically ready to start pushing the pace, but I knew one bad fall could easily ruin my day. Every time I’d start to get aggressive, I had some sort of major slip or fall that would kill my confidence. I was annoyed at how technical this section was, as I had hoped it would be more runable. It didn’t get much better when I finally reached the bottom of the boulder pile that is the upper Phelps trail. The roots started as soon as the boulders stopped. I’m talking roots that were 6-12 inches above the trail, and covering about 80% of the ground. At this point in the run, my knee lift was only about 8 inches off the ground, so getting over the roots was similar to running the steeplechase for me.
I was also paranoid about losing the trail on this last section of trail, so I was stopping at every small intersection to confirm my route. I ran hard when the ground was clear, and backed off on the rooty sections. When I reached Johns Brook Lodge, the trail was consistently runable, and I dropped the pace into the 6 minute range. I was surprised that my legs could still turn over that fast, but the trail has a very nice downhill grade that makes you want to run. I managed to dip under 6 minute pace on a few of the downhills. This was some of nicest trail I’ve run, and it was great way to end the day. I stopped my watch at the Garden at 6:09:26, and was extremely happy that I did not have to walk down to route 73 to get my car. After checking out at the trailhead where I started, I drove home, took a 30 minute shower to get all the mud off my legs, and headed to the birthday party a few hours later.
Perhaps the best way to describe the unique aspects of the Great Range is to list the collection of small injuries that I was left with.
1. A half torn nail. Not a toenail, a fingernail. I’m not sure when it happened but probably while trying to claw my way up a ledge.
2. My back was incredibly sore, as if I had been lifting weights after not doing so for a year or so.
3. Razor thin slices in the fingers of my left hand. This was from putting my hand down when jumping off the ledges.
4. Abrasions on both knees, one from the tree, the other from a boulder.
5. Sore arms and shoulders from climbing ledges
6. Severe weathering of my wedding band. If you don’t want scrapes in your ring, take it off. My band is titanium and it is pretty roughed up. Gold would have taken a real beating.
Thanks to my 320’s I had no issues at all with my feet. At least for me, a solid shoe with plenty of cushioning is the way to go on these types of runs.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Chris Reed got a well earned 2nd OA finish at the Grindstone 100. Chris has been a model of consistency at Grindstone with this being his 3rd-2nd OA placing since the race's inception. This was also Chris's fastest time at Grindstone with a 20:15:34. Amy Lane at the Hatfield Harvest 5k, not only won the female overall title but she got the race's overall title for this cross country style 5k in 19:43. Mark Lundblad grabbed 2nd OA at the Stumpjump 50k; in 4:26 wearing the Roclite 295's. (picture of the top 3 at Stumpjump with overall winner Jason Bryant showing us his acrobatic skills) At the RRCA West Virginia State Marathon Championships, Dave James ran strong and took the overall win in 2:44:43 on a hilly course. Here is a link to an article about Dave's big win.