My objectives: explore the desert, get acclimated to the heat, build back some running stamina without aggravating injuries, continue to condition the feet. The goal isn’t to overdo things, but still to do a lot, and this requires an aggressive tempo of operations: breakfast, run or hike, dinner, plan the next day’s activities, bed — repeat. The planning is time-consuming: there’s an overwhelming volume of information on the internet, and not all of equal quality. My best source turns out to be the motel clerk who’s been exploring this area with his wife for the last ten years.
Recently I’ve posted about different ways of talking to yourself while running, and in reading Ian’s race report from a 50-mile ultramarathon in the Shawangunks, I was impressed by his thoughtful strategy for mitigating risky conditions and his on-the-move decision-making.
By guest author, Ian Erne (shared with his permission – thank you, Ian):
I managed to finish the RockTheRidge 50-miler on a very rainy day with temperatures in the 40s. Approximately 100 of my fellow ultramarathon enthusiasts/competitors had to DNF for various reasons. Hypothermia being the biggest reason. As I stated in a previous post, I was under-trained, but felt I could finish if I ran conservatively and intelligently.
Tim was the 2017 first place male finisher in the 70-mile division. He set a new course record of 18:11, and this is also the new unsupported fastest known time for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail of 19:17 hours (the FKT does not net out the waiting time at check point #3, as explained below).
The fourth edition of the SRT Run took place September 15-16, 2017 with nearly 200 registered participants across all divisions, up 35% from the year before. The SRT Run has a minimalist format, meaning there are no aid stations (we don’t provide food or water) and no supplemental course markings. As one participant put it, “they don’t coddle the runners.” But the truth is, the runners don’t need a lot of hand-holding. At the start for each division, steely determination was evident in their faces, and then once moving, exhilaration, and when finally at the finish, relief. And maybe there were some points in between where it was necessary to grit the teeth. Results included three new course records, countless personal bests, at least one first-time ultramarathon finish, and remarkably a runner who completed the 30-mile division barefoot — and there were also some disappointments because the weather was hot, the trail is rugged, and the mountains, unyielding.
Organizers created this event to celebrate a magical trail that crosses the entire length of the Shawangunk Mountains, or the “Gunks” as they are called, an area identified by the Nature Conservancy as “one of Earth’s last great places.” By promoting awareness of the SRT, we hope to build support for further conservation. Continue reading “2017 SRT Race Director’s Report”
By guest author Lisa Zucker Glick
On May 6, 2017 I participated for the third time in the Rock the Ridge 50 miler. This event is a fundraiser for the Mohonk Preserve. It has a generous cutoff of 24 hours. The event is designed for the average runner/ hiker to be able to complete the entire distance. There is a registration fee as well as a fundraising minimum. I chose not to fundraise and pay the amount myself. These are my trails in my backyard. I know the importance of protecting and caring for this great gift of the Mohonk Preserve.
As co-director of Rock The Ridge it’s a great thrill for me to see the participants moving through the mountains and especially the expressions on their faces when they reach the finish. Even more remarkable is their good work raising funds for the Mohonk Preserve (New York’s largest not-for-profit nature preserve and host for the event), the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the NY-NJ Trail Conference, and other causes. With close to $250,000 raised in 2017 alone, the event is now approaching a cumulative five-year total of one million dollars, an outcome which brings a mix of joy and astonishment to the organizers.
As co-director it is also my job to run in the event, so that organizers have a clear understanding of the participant experience. In past years, this has been great fun, for example, in 2015 when I won the master’s division and set a personal record. But as one gets a little older, fifty miles gets a little tougher, and in 2016 my time was quite a bit slower.
As I stepped up to the starting line this year, the only goal was to finish. This would be my first ultramarathon since Rock The Ridge the year before, thanks to a long series of injuries. Two weeks before the race, I was feeling good, but then with one week to go the posterior tibialis tendon (which runs underneath the ankle on the inner side of the foot) flared up once again.
But even if my strategy was to take it easy, there might still be ways to make this an interesting and challenging event. I could run the fifty miles without taking any calories, and I’d see how far I could get without drinking.
Low hills flank the Thru-way, and through the car window you see mostly trees. On the drive up this morning, the sky is clear, and the sun’s rays are pouring down with such intensity that every detail of the passing trees stands out: stout trunks spattered with lichen and tangled with vines, leafless branches reaching, twisting, interweaving. The clarity is astonishing: it’s like a geometric pattern, brightly-lit but bewildering.
However, there’s a spot just north of New Paltz where the road dips and the hills pull back, and for a moment a vista of the Catskill Mountains is revealed. This morning they appear huge and rounded, a soft mottled mix of brown and tan, flanks dappled with blue cloud shadows. The detail has seemingly melted away with distance, and the mountain plateau looks like some kind of lost world – but the vision is divulged for only an instant before the road rises back into the hills again.
Of course, closer to the mountains more details emerge; the ridge tops resolve into jagged lines of spruce and fir tinged white. I arrive at the Devil’s Tombstone Campground full of enthusiasm, imagining all the peaks I could climb today, but on opening the car door, feeling the cool air, and staring down at the ice sheet that covers the parking lot, some reality seeps back in. Also, with a few aches and pains to be mindful of, maybe it’d be smarter to take it easy.