Hail to the King, Baby.
More late race reports! Date of Race: 24 June 2017
The later half of June brings many things: My son’s last day of school, Father’s Day, our annual road trip, and of course – the Hell Hath No Hurry 50k Trail Run. After winning 50k race last year, I had to try my luck again. The course is made of 5 loops consisting of rolling single track, Pennsylvania hills, roots, rocks, and beautiful scenery. This year promised to be a new course, so of course I had to check it out.
We started out the week in wet, humid, coastal Virginia. The first night in town I went for a 6 mile run at 11 at night, in 81% humidity and I thought I was going to melt. I actually think I kind of did.
The week ahead was rife with rain – our plans were constantly changing, with stops and adventures planned out hardly more than 12 hours before hand. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it to the Blue Ridge Parkway again this year – one of my favorite places to run, hike, and explore. By chance we found ourselves at The Catoctin Mountain Park in MD, where we enjoyed a reprieve from the rain, went camping at Owen’s Creek, played at the lake, and I got in 17 miles scattered over the day with breaks to see the family and of course… smash my brand new phone on some rocks.
Fortunately enough for me, Assurion phone insurance has the ability to overnight new phones to runners who are in need of them. My new device came in just in time for the race.
After an adventurous week, it was race day. Dinner the night before at Eat’n Park, a strong yoga session to start the day, breakfast at Sheetz (a PA tradition), and it was go time.
Heat and humidity would not be the factor this year – 2017 would be the year of the mud.
The night before the event, the skies opened up and let down enough rain to turn the course into the muddiest it’s been in the event history.
The 50 mile starts at 0600, and the 50k at 1000, which is nice in that it makes for a relaxing morning, but it makes for a warm afternoon, as the sun rises higher and the miles tick on. The great equalizer this year was the trail conditions – large stretches of flat, uphill, and downhill peanut-buttery-slick mud; an ever changing landscape that showed its teeth as the day went on.
With hundreds of footsteps beating the ground down, water rose up to form massive puddles that swallowed up the footprints of any runner who braved the treacherous terrain. Some sections started dry and run-able, but later became a muddy slip and slide. Other sections started off as wildly slick and became tamed by the sun as the mud baked back into dirt.
I ran two laps with my phone in the side thigh pocket of my Ruhn 2.0 compression shorts, but after two hard falls, I was afraid of falling on a rock and smashing it….again. Earlier that week, my “shatter resistant” Samsung S8 met an early grave, falling at the perfect angle on the perfect rock to punch through the Gorilla Glass screen and render the phone unusable. Needless to say, I was a little apprehensive about breaking my brand-new, one day old replacement. I stashed it with my gear at the start/finish/start-of-each-loop and continued on; fighting against the course, my mounting fatigue, and the other runners on the course.
My pace was solid, and I ran when I could. I felt strong and fleet footed, despite the conditions. The mud was INSANE in some places, where 5-10 foot slopes were like slides, and people were walking off trail for safety. Those that braved the trail ALWAYS went down. I couldn’t imagine running this race without the hemp bedding on my Earth Runners. Even with a layer of mud between my foot and the sandal bed, I was confident as I could be, all things considered, and although the tread is ‘light’ compared to most trail shoes, the center-of-gravity stability of minimalist running kept my feet underneath me and upright for the most part!
Moving as fast as I could in the face of the day, I held 2nd or 3rd (?) for the first few laps but eventually took to the lead, with the devil on my shoulder whispering fear of being hunted down, I ran hard to the finish.
I was covered in mud, exhausted, and happy to have reclaimed my crown. I met the first place 50 mile finisher, and was humbled to learn his 50k split was faster than my first place 50k finish.
Enjoy the flow. These pants are freaking amazing. @ruhn_co compression 2.0 I did two laps (12 miles) of the muckiest muck with my new (replacement) Samsung S8 phone inside the thigh pocket. I slipped, I fell – twice. Never, not once, did my phone threaten to pop out. It was solidly in there. I only left my phone with my drop bag after I started having fears of falling again – and crushing it between my leg and a rock. I had already taken out one insurance claim on it last week. I didn't want to go for two… Happy (muddy) #TrailTuesday! @earthrunners @hava_adventure Picture courtesy of @patrailrunner! Thanks for being out there.
Hats off to Peter Kozlowski and his crew for yet another amazing event. Amazing finishers hardware, wonderful food, beer, and support. Great aid, free photography from multiple photographers and locations, and an overall wonderful atmosphere. See you all in 2018.
-The Winged Ling