A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thoughts - April 21 - Massanutten Data Gathering

Run 100 miles just to get this belt buckle? You bet your life!

As the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 looms (May 14-15), it has been occupying most of my waking minutes.

As the race approaches, I gather evidence from friends' pictures, Youtube videos, race reports, and even the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club website for any info on the course.

What makes it a bit difficult is that the course was changed last year. And although it appears that the major change was the location of the start/finish lines and that the course itself was largely left intact, the runners last year had to deal with the same sections of the course at a completely different time. What was then done in darkness was now in daylight, and vice versa.

This means that the race reports prior to last year are not really dependable.

And although I do get some info from previous years' race reports, the lion's share of the info I get has to be from last year's race.

So let's see what I gleaned from last year's race so far...let me pull up the course here...

The theme for most of the race is "aid station, major climb, major descent, aid station." Wash, rinse repeat. There are several exceptions to the rule but that seems to be the recurring theme here.

Some noted sections are as follows:

We actually do have a "honeymoon" of sorts going to Aid Station 1. It's pretty much all dirt road up till the aid station. After that, well, the honeymoon is over when we start to climb Short Mountain after the Aid Station.

Short Mountain is anything but. This mountain is the first climb of the new course. On the old course, this used to be a pretty tough climb on tired legs. Now, not so much when on fresh legs. 

Not to worry though! Kern's Mountain will now do the job on those tired legs at mile 70!

There are some pretty long sections between aid stations. There are some 8 mile sections in the beginning of the course, but what gets my attention are two sections in the middle of the race and 2 sections toward the end:

1)Veach Gap to Indian Grave (AS#7 to AS#8; 40.7 to 49.7 miles). This section is 9 miles long. The map above should give you a good indication here. The trail here along the ridge of that mountain is pretty rough also, so this section might very well take me 2 hours to traverse.

2)Hebron Gap to Camp Roosevelt (AS#9 - AS#10; 53.6 to 63.1 miles). This section is the longest at 9.5 miles and is quite tough. This section will be done on tiring legs during waning daylight.

3)Gap Creek#1 to Visitor's Center (AS#11 to AS#12; 68.7 to 77.1 miles). This is Kern's Mountain. 8.4 miles long. I will probably be running this in the dark. This might very well be one of the toughest sections to traverse in the race.

View of Kern's Mountain. I'll be running along the top during the night.

4)Picnic Area to Gap Creek#2 (AS#14 to AS#15; 86.9 to 95.4 miles). This section is 8.5 miles long and features a nasty climb. If I'm doing well, I'll be doing this in the dark. If not, I'll hopefully still be limping along in the morning daylight. It this point I'm hoping the last part of this race will give me the willpower needed to get me to the finish line.

With these 4 sections in mind, I will be carrying a Camelbak for the race. The debate right now is whether to take it from the start, or to put it in the drop bag and don it at Veach Gap. Right now I'm leaning toward the latter as I would like to stay unencumbered for the first 40 miles of the race.

I'll be posting my developing race strategy in future posts. The only question is when how soon I'll have to break from that strategy and focus on survival. ;-)

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I will be hosting a group at the Greenbelt Parking lot for the last preparations for the High Rock Challenge next week. We meet at 8AM.

I will be going over to the Scholarship Trail Race at the Greenbelt Nature Center afterwards. The race starts at 11:00AM. Applications can be found on the Staten Island Running website (or click this link). The course is 1 mile for young kids, and 3 miles for both high school kids and adults.

For those who like running, you can go to the Jackrabbit NYC Running Show in NYC on Saturday. The Staten Island Athletic Club will have a table there so show your face and say hi if going.

And on Easter Sunday I will be running between 30-40 miles in the last long run before the race I described above, Massanutten. I'll be doing laps on the 2 mile Greenway that goes along Latourette and Forest Hill Road between Richmond and Rockland Aves. I'll be there between 5AM and 12 noon so if you need to get a morning run in, come at anytime between those hours. Just park your car off of Rockland Ave. and start running down the path; you'll eventually find me.

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