Here’s a race report from Kevin Russell, one of the 74-mile particpants in the recent SRT race, which takes place along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail. Kevin’s lively story features field-expedient shoe repair, a porcupine, bushwhacking, and rock scrambles. Thanks for sharing, Kevin!
So the race happened. Ginn drove and we got there in time for me to finish a McD’s hamburger and fries while I waited to start. 19 names on registration list, 13 toed the line. Well it wasn’t really a line since we started at a single track trail intersection. The elite runner who was listed in Ultra Signup as a 99.75% took off never to be seen again, we thought.
Covered a few miles before it got dark, then I ran with another guy through the night. We leapfrogged with another 3 people too (a single and a team-pair). 10-12 miles in at like 11PM or so we catch up to the elite guy who is running the wrong way at us. He gets to the check point just before we did and the RD is saying that the elite guy stayed up all night the night before. Anyway, a couple hundred yards down the trail the dude stops and mumbles, “I just can’t, I just need to sleep” and drops from the race. This opened things up, at some points I was actually leading by a couple feet.
Came out of the woods onto road and somebody behind me said there’s something stuck to your shoe. It was a piece of my shoe that was breaking off. The sole at the heel actually broke off. At the checkpoint I ripped it off and brought out my duct tape to try a repair. Repair only lasted ’til next checkpoint. 50 miles with broken shoe. Shoe fiasco left me and my running teammate Marcin (Polish bartender from Brooklyn) in 2-3 place.
Top a mountain admiring view from rocky outcrop and Marcin says, “Hey, there’s two tents up here” we then had an incredibly friendly and cordial interchange with the person in the tent who wished us luck and a good run etc. 1:30AM and a lunatic runner shines a light in your tent on the top of a mountain and the guy couldn’t have been friendlier.
After that we thought there was a skunk in the trail but it was a big porcupine, chased it 100 yds because it ran away but stayed on the trail.
We didn’t get held at the 5AM hold point, leader did for 1 minute. We were 50 minutes behind. After sun came up Marcin and I got lost following a creek (I think a side creek came in and we didn’t realize that we were then following a tributary, not the main line) bushwack and come up through people’s backyards then down the road to get back on trail and #4-5 partners are there.
A note on streams, we had to stop to fill water bladders and bottles along the way, everyone is using some sort of filter and most some sort of additional disinfectant. Not Marcin, he just goes stream to mouth to belly. Says he always does that, every weekend on hikes and runs. Never sick from it.
We stayed the four of us together for a couple miles then the other pair fell back. Marcin then needs to stop, doesn’t really tell me why but insists that I go on. I do and now I’m clear in 2nd place. A few hours after that the wheels fell off my navigation wagon. I’m following lavender trail, the trail is 6 inch wide and overgrown with mountain laurel so you can only see it if you’re on it. The trail ends (also known as I missed a left turn somewhere) but there are still lavender blazes on the trees so I press on. Tromping through the laurel thinking about what the RD said, “Some of the course isn’t cut back, just keep going” then the lavender blazes end. But lavender engineering tape starts so I continue tromping and stomping through until that ends too. First time I pull out Ginn’s phone with GPS and I realize I’m off trail by a lot. I then bushwack sideways to reconnect and it’s thick. Finally arrive at trail according to GPS and there’s a 20 ft rock wall in front of me. I figure the trail is on top. I scale the rock and sure enough there’s lavender blazes up there. I did this another time too, plus once more that was actually on the course. A total of 3 rock walls. I might have done more climbing in the Gunks in one day than Paul ever did.
After getting lost and bushwacking and rock climbing I’m now in 5th at next checkpoint. I somehow manage to catch up with #3-4 pair (Marcin had stayed in front of them as #2) and run with them for a while until the pain in my feet stops me from rock hopping as fast as they were. Couple hrs later I catch up with Marcin walking slowly on the trail and he looks like hell and says, “My check engine light is on”. I gave him my 2 caffeine pills that I’ve had forever, I assume they were part of a race goodie bag sometime but I have no idea. I think it will help him but I don’t stick around to find out. I rush as fast as I can now that I’m off the pointy rocks and do pretty well to the finish. Under 24 hrs, 4th place, beat the previous course record by more than 6 hrs.