Thursday, September 5, 2019

2019 Vermont 100 Endurance Run

Registration for the VT100 (Vermont 100 Endurance Run) was a lottery this year.  The names were pulled live and streamed.  I was a little nervous as I didn't get pulled until near the end, but was extremely excited to get in.

We are out of PA so we headed up to Vermont the day before packet pickup.

Registration opened on 10 am Friday, and you had to pick up your packet before 3:30 pm.  If you were not there by then they would hand your bib off to the next person on the wait list.

They offered camping on site for free, but we went with a hotel.  This ended up working out pretty well, because the temps were fairly high.

They had large tents setup for the registration area and the meeting area.

In the registration tent they had a bib pickup area, then after getting you bib you go to another table and pick up your shirt and you got a pair of Darn Tough socks as they were a sponsor.

They also had a merchandise area that you could buy VT100 Gear.

Finally they had the pacer sign up area, so your pacer could sign the waver and get the pacer bib.

Outside of the registration tent, many of the vendors setup their tents and had amazing deals on products.

All around the tents you could see the horses that would be running with us the next day.

They also held 2 free races for Crew and Pacers.  The held a Kids race and a 5k race.

After both races finished we went up to the meeting area tent to wait for the mandatory race meeting.  We were a little early and I was determined to try to get a little rest in, seeing as the race was starting early the next morning.

The temp was empty when I first laid down, but it quickly filled up.

At the race meeting they went over all the rules, trail marking, and talked about the charity, Vermont Adaptive.  They also mentioned that this might be the last year the horses would be running the race with the runners.  After the meeting they provided dinner but we skipped it so we could get back to the hotel and get some rest.  It was still very warm out and it was going to be hot the next day, so we just wanted to get out of the heat and get some rest.

Race check in the next morning started at 3:00 am until 3:45 am.

It was already quite hot and humid.

They had very good directions for traveling between points and told us multiple times not to use GPS.  Mainly because GPS has trouble telling the difference between the Jeep trails in the area and the roads.

After race check in we all headed over to the start line.

The race started promptly at 4:00 am.

The trails were marked very well, using yellow plates in areas that you needed to turn.

On longer stretches they would also occasionally put a yellow plate with a C, as a confidence check that you were still headed the correct way.

The race started down hill on a dirt road, then eventually hit a jeep trail.

The first aid station I don't believe was originally planned but I believe they added a few water only aid stations due to the heat.  It was to get close to 100 degrees that day.

After going through a few unmanned aid stations, we finally came to the first crewed station (Pretty House).

There was a lot of crew at this station waiting for their first chance to see their runners who are a little over 20 miles into the race.

Up to this point much of the running was on dirt roads and some Jeep trails.

Along the way I even ran with the race director for a little who was pacing one of the Vermont Adaptive Athletes.

At this point we started  to see some of the horses on the trail.

Through out the race much of it was on dirt road and horse paths / jeep roads.  It was really cool seeing the horses out there with us.  They had separate aid stations, and they had vet checks also that took some time.  So you would often see the same horses and riders through out the day.

The next crewed station was Stage Rd.  

By this point it was getting pretty hot out.  The aid stations had lots of ice which was very good to have through out the day.

Around Mile 38 ish we crossed the River.  At this point it felt amazing.

The next crewed aid station was Camp 10 Bear.  We would be coming back to this aid station after around a 20 mile loop.  This would also be where we would be able to pick up our pacers on the second visit to Camp 10 Bear.

After leaving Camp 10 Bear the first time, the next aid station in the middle of the 20 mile loop was the Margaritavillle aid station.

From here it was back to Camp 10 Bear, where I was able to pick up my pacer.  It was nice to have someone along out on the trail.  The next two crewed stations were Spirit of 76 and Bills.  Through out the night the trail was marked very well with glow sticks.

On the way to the final crewed aid station Polly's, the sun started to come up.  The sun rise always gives a little boost of energy.

Polly's was the final crewed aid station.  Here I dropped off my friend Sheena who got me from Camp 10 Bear to Polly's.

This is where I picked up my 9 year old daughter who paced me for the final 3.5 miles to the finish line.  She was very excited and even was more excited when everyone was cheering for her.

The last 3.5 miles had around 600 feet of elevation and she did a great job.

The finish was amazing, especially with my daughter being there with me.

The town is extremely supportive of this race, you could see it all through the town.  With race day being extremely hot, many of the homes on the course put out water and pulled their hoses out so the roads so racers could use them to cool down.

This is an amazing race, and the views are even more amazing. The volunteers and staff are extremely helpful.  The race is very runable, because most of it is on roads and horse trails.  This is good and bad, you just need to not push too hard in the beginning.  It sounds like this happens to many on this course and the heat probably didn't help.  Just over 50% completed it.  It was great to see the horses out there on the trail, it made this race different from any other that I have ran.  It was a long trip to take, but totally worth it.

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.