Saturday, March 27, 2010

Racing season has begun

Now that the snow has melted it is time to get out and see what our winter base training has wrought. Our good friend Ted Ricci, who is now representing Pittsburgh in the great state of Texas, provided this race report from the Grasslands 50.
Here is a link to the results:
Grasslands Trail Run
(BTW, there is a runner named Freeman who DNF'd, obviously no relation : )

Last Saturday I participated in my second 50 mile event called The Grasslands Trail Runs( including 1/2 marathon, marathon, and 50 mile distances) put on by the North Texas Trail Runners. The races are billed as a good introduction for first time trail runners because of the gently rolling terrain of the course. The conditions this year made it anything but gentle. It had started raining heavily overnight. It was about 38 degrees at the start and still raining hard. It got colder as the day went on the rain turned into rounds of sleet and snow. I felt like I was home in good old PA rather than North Texas! The 7am start in the dark was tough because the trail was completely washed out. Runners were slipping and falling everywhere. Once it got light and the runners spread out, I was able to set into a deliberate pace. Due to the conditions it was impossible to run large sections of it. It was a mud fest. Brown mud, red mud, white mud, sandy mud, clay mud, soupy mud, rivers of mud. Variations of mud I had never seen before. The course was a series of loops that returned to the start/finish area. Almost every other runner would stop, take off their shoes and change their socks after each loop. I didn't bother. Due to bouts of frost bite early in my life, my feet are overly sensitive to the cold (just like Rick's description of what happened to Chuck at the Iditarod). My feet turned somewhat numb from the start which I have become accustomed to. Fortunately it did not get cold enough where I was at risk of losing any toes but it was cold enough to take the edge off where I couldn't tell how much mud had caked up in my shoes so it didn't bother me.

I must admit I had a few thoughts of just packing it up because of the ridiculous conditions. But I asked myself what would my ultra running mentors Rick and Dan do? They wouldn't quit! They would find a way to deal with the conditions and push on. After I determined to push on, I became concerned about making the cutoff. Fortunately I hooked up with a guy named Michael Terrel. He was an ex-military guy who had spent years on the Adventure Racing circuit so extreme conditions where up his alley. We worked together to make sure we made the cutoff. Once we did that, there was no doubt about finishing.

Around 84 people signed up for the 50 miler, only 70 bothered to start it, 7 finished --that's an amazing 90% failure rate!

Why do we do this? It is hard to describe to others the satisfaction we receive for persevering through extreme conditions. Am I ready to do the Laurel 70 miler? I don't know, but this race certainly went a long way to prepare me for it when I attempt it someday.

Happy running!

Great report Ted. You are always welcome to come and run the Laurel race.

Lou D. kicked off the local racing scene with the JC Stone 50k last weekend, and the Umstead, Bel Monte and Fools Run are this weekend, hopefully there will be some race reports to post from those events.

I talked with Tim Hewitt who just finished his fifth trip to Nome on the Iditarod Trail. He and Tom Jarding both beat the foot record there, with Tom knocking an amazing 1 1/2 days off the old record. Tim could not catch Tom this year. I try and get a post about the Iditarod later this weekend.

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