Sunday, July 14, 2019

2019 Laurel Highlands Ultra

The Laurel Highlands Ultra is 70.5 miles covering the full Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

Registration for this event is old school, no signing up online or using a credit card.  You have to fill out the paper registration and mail it in with a check.  Registration fills up quickly and the only way you know you got in is they cash your check.


The race started in Ohiopyle near the falls.  They also had packet pickup there in the morning.  They had a great pre-race dinner the night before (at least what I heard about it), but I was unable to attend.


The race started out of the parking lot and onto the road for a short piece until we hit the trail.  There was a little backup at the trail head, but it was a pretty good up hill so most racers weren't in a hurry.  One of the toughest parts of the race is the first 8 miles, which are mostly up hill.


The trail is very easy to follow, and is marked very well with yellow markings.


One thing different with this race then others I have done is every mile is marked by one of these stone mile markers.  It is very easy to keep track of where you are and it is a great feeling when you pass them and know another mile is finished.


Throughout the trail there are a few scenic overlooks right off the trail which are worth the extra minute or so to take a peak.


All of the aid stations have the usual stock of all the ultra race foods you normally see.


There are a lot of technical sections throughout the course.


There are a few areas that you weave through large rock formations.


The trail is very well maintained, all of the stream crossings have very sturdy foot bridges.


Almost all of the trail is single track, but there are a few spots you are on a dirt road on Seven Springs Ski Resort.


There are a few crew stations, where it is always nice to see family and friends, even if it is for a short period of time.


The terrain and view changes throughout the race.


There is also a very impressive bridge that crosses the PA turnpike.


The finish is great and the race director hands you your finisher's trophy.  It is a wooden replica of the 70 mile, mile marker.  They later send you a personalized plaque to add to it with your name and finish time.


This a great race on an amazing trail system.  I would highly recommend it.  It was also local for me and something I wanted to do for some time.  I'm glad I finally got the chance to do it.

Friday, June 7, 2019

2019 GORUCK DC 12 mile Star Course AAR / Review

This was my wife and I's second GORUCK Star Course.  The first was the 2018 Philadelphia 50 miler.

When they came out with the 12 miler and 26.2 miler, we figured we would give the 12 miler a try.  My wife was injured and couldn't commit to the full or the 50, so we opted for the 12 for fun.


First off, this course was in Washington D.C.  This was our first D.C. event, and we parked outside of the city and took the metro in.  This worked very well for us, parking was easy and we were able to get fairly close to the start point.


After getting off the Metro we headed to the start point.  The start point was at Georgetown Waterfront Park.


It was easy to find the GORUCK start point, they had several tables setup with GORUCK flags.  All the GRTs with rucks on their back was a good indicator also.


Cadre Igor was leading the 12 miler.  We all signed our teams in and the team leads were asked to meet with the cadre to get through part of the admin portion.  Next we were given all the points and instructed to layout our routes and check them with the cadre.  We were also given time to do this before the official start.  This was much different than our Philly 50 miler.  There we were given the points and the clock started.


This time we used the Circuit app instead of the Road Warrior app which we used for the Philly 50 miler.  The Circuit app worked great, and I think it is easier to use.  It also had a few days of a free trial with unlimited points so we didn't even have to pay anything.  It also linked to Google maps, so we could use it for directions from point to point.


Once it was close to the start time we all gathered together for a group picture, and were sent off on our journey.



The first point in the route we chose was mile marker 0 of the C&O Canal Towpath.  Being this was the first point on most team's list there was a line and not much room to get a picture.  So we did the best we could so we could continue to move on and not waste time.


The second point was the Women's Memorial. We snapped a quick picture and quickly headed on.


Then as we were headed away from the memorial we read the information on the points and found we had to get the picture UNDER the dome so we headed back to try again.  So if you do the star course be sure to read the information for each point and get the proper pictures.


Our third point was the Lincoln Memorial.  A lot of the points were much more crowded than when we were in Philly.  Plus with the 12 miler we were out in the middle of the day so many of the points were quite busy and it made it a little more difficult to get in and get the photos.


Our fourth point was the Jefferson memorial.  We quickly found there were a lot of locations we could cut corners and cross open spaces to shorten the route.


Our fifth point was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.


The sixth point was the World War 2 Memorial.  A nice thing about the D.C. course was that many of the points were easy to find and everybody knew where they were, because they were so iconic.  Also, most people in the area were there to visit the same sites.  It was a little more hectic because Georgetown had graduation ceremonies that day too, around the same time that we started our event.


The seventh point was the Washington Memorial.  This was probably one of the easiest to find because you could see it from a long distance.  Many of the D.C. points you could see from a distance, which helped out a lot.


Our eighth point was the Supreme Court of the US.  Overall, the D.C. course was very flat, with the biggest hill being the walk up capital hill to this point.


Our Ninth point was the White House.  Then we were off to the finish.  It was getting really hot out, but we continued on.  From start to finish there were 11 way points.


The finish was at Balance Gym on the roof top, so there were quite a few stairs until you got to the top.  The timing was also planned out well so the 50, 26.2, and 12 mile finished around the same time.


After finishing they had pizza, donuts, beer, and water for everybody.  It was was a good location to hang out and wait for the other teams to finish up.


We ended up being the first 12 mile team in, so we got to see a lot of other GRT's come in for the different distances.  We also had the chance to meet up with quite a few of the GRT's that we have met over the years.  The D.C. Star Course had many more participants than the Philly 50 miler we did.

We highly recommend the 12 mile Star Course.  It was a lot of fun, and there seemed to be more points per mile.  So we didn't have to suffer through the long out and backs like we had for the 50 miler in Philly, to get the total 50 miles in.

This ended up being a quick tour of D.C. and some of the most popular attractions.  We also ended up with a great photo gallery of us in front of all the local attractions in our Instagram account that was created to track our event.
I would definitely recommend this one for fun.  We didn't take it too seriously, but we also kept moving because it was so hot out.  It was a great event.

Monday, June 3, 2019

2019 UROC Ultra Race of Champions Race Report

The 2019 UROC (Ultra Race of Champions) was held in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

We drove down the day before the race for packet pickup.  The views around the area were amazing, and there were a few overlooks to pull off and check out.


The packet pick up was the same location as the start / midpoint / finish of the race.  It was located at the Skylark Nature Preserve, also know as 12 Ridges Vineyard.  


Entering and exiting the location was a little tricky, because it is a very narrow one lane road.

After arriving at the parking area, there was a good hike up the hill to get to the packet pickup area.  But seeing that you are probably there for an ultra, you should be OK making it up the hill.  (your family and crew may feel differently)


At the top of the hill was the start / finish line and the packet pickup location.


I got my shirt and bib and headed off for the night.

The next morning we met at the same location as packet pickup.  


The race began at 6:00 am.
The sun was just starting to come up, so there was no need for the head lamp in the morning.


The 50k and the 100k started at the same time. 


 The course was broken down into 2 50k courses.  The 50k and 100k split shortly after we left the start line.  The 50k went left to the 50k course which we would be doing later, and the 100k went right for an out and back.


After about a 0.75  mile run though the Skylark farms property we hit a dirt road, and continued down it around 2 miles until we hit a paved rode.


We traveled the paved road for about another 2 ish miles.  We hit the first aid station at the end of the paved road, then it was single track for the rest of the out and back.  This worked great to spread out the races before we hit the single track.


There weren't a ton of markings on the trail, but there also weren't many places to go.  When the trail would split it was marked pretty well.


The trails had a few smaller elevation changes in the beginning then we got into some steep short ups and downs.


The views were amazing.  The trail seemed to go out the top of the ridge so there was a pretty good view the entire first 50k.


This next leg between aid stations was around 11.5 miles.  This was the longest leg between aid stations and we did it twice out and back.  I was very happy I had an extra water bottle with me.  After getting out to the aid station we did the same course back to the start line.


After leaving this aid station, we headed out on the same course the 50k participants ran earlier.


This half of the course started down the hill to the parking area and back through the other side of the Skylark property.


After around a mile we hit the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We continued on the blue ridge park way for around 1.5 miles.


Some of this half of the race included a dirt road.  It was raining pretty hard at this point so there was a small river running down it.


The second half of the course, the single track, seemed a little more technical with a few rock gardens throughout the trail.


The aid stations were very well stocked, and they were setup so you passed through a few of them twice.  This was nice for crews so they could meet there runners twice without driving to another location.


The second half of the course was marked with a lot more flags.  They were nice when it started getting darker.  Most of them also had reflective strips.


There was about a 1.2 mile out and back down a dirt road that we went to the end and marked our bib, and returned to the aid station.  After this there was around 5 miles to the next aid station.  It was mentioned at the previous aid station several times that it was a LONG 5 miles.  They weren't kidding.  At this point we were 50 plus miles in to the race and those 5 miles ended up being one of the steepest and longest climbs of the race.


On the way back to the finish line it started to get pretty foggy.  Luckily the turns were marked well and they had cars and volunteers where we needed to turn.


After getting back through the Skylark grounds we headed up the final hill to the finish.

This was a great race with a good mix of terrain. There were a few challenging hills and the weather definitely added some difficulty, but the views were amazing!