I ran in the inaugural Glacier Trail Ultra on Saturday, in Moraine State Park, Pennsylvania. This was a series of races being presented at the same time-50 mile, 50K, and a 30K. Although the temperature was supposed to hit a high of about 60 degrees, it really didn't seem to get out of the fifties. I added the long sleeve top at the last minute, and then ended up wearing it the entire time. I did vacillate between keeping it on, taking it off, and then I would hit a ridge and some wind and be glad to have it on.
The 50 mile runners started at 630 am, and the 50K started promptly at 0730. There was around one mile on the asphalt bike path, which allowed the runners to get spread out. We hit the single track trail....and The Mud. It wasn't bad yet, but there were already big patches.
This would be the theme of the day. Mud.
I was very amused at how some of the runners were trying to pick their way around the mud. With 30 miles to go, you are going to get your feet wet. And muddy. I just went straight through the middle. Many times, the footing was less slick going right through the water than trying to pick your way through the edges, like everyone else!
I had read (briefly) the race instructions, and knew there was an unmanned water stop around mile 5, and then the first food AS was around mile 10. That was fine with me, as I was still trying out my malto and then had Sustained Energy powder in my pack to use around the halfway point.
I was looking forward to chatting with Tom Jennings, the Race Director of the Oil Creek Ultra Races. I had seen him before the race, but then once the race started I couldn't tell if he was way in front of me, or somehow actually behind me. The race course had some good climbs. With an out and back race, the worst thing is, the nice runnable downhill section you are on..is going to be a walking section on the way back! The course was very runnable. Except for the mud. I got out to the Jennings Center. I took a bathroom break, and then preceded to the Aid Station. Tom had arrived, got his aid, and was heading out! He must have been just out of sight behind me! I resolved to try and catch him, but wanted to get my calories in first.
Going back was a bit tougher, mainly due to the Mud. It's all gotten deeper, longer, and greasier. The muddy uphill' are the hardest. I don't mind uphill's, but I like to keep moving uphill, not sliding down! I hit the manned AS at mile 21, but Tom's got 10-15 minutes on me. Rats, I won't catch up with that kind of lead. Another female, catches up to me in this next section. It was nice to have her on my heels, because it actually made me run sections that I was getting ready to walk through. I did pull away from her on some uphill'ss, although she finished only 10 minutes or so after me.
Last 4 miles. More mud. I catch a male runner through here and pass him. He's tired of the mud too. He advises me that when we hit the pavement, we've got 1 mile to go. I have been checking my watch and trying to play games with myself, but with over 1+ miles to go, I'm at 7 hours 50 minutes. And here comes another mud patch. Oh well, so much for running a sub 8. (Ha, so much for running a 6.30 race! Remember to think about the course, course conditions before you spout off again! But, thinking about it, I think I could run a 6.30 here with dry trails. Really.)
I get a big honking lucite medal at the end of the race. I go down to the lake and scrub off the mud off my legs before I even try to change clothes. Nicely organized, early season race!