Perspective: not quite sure when I lost it, but it’s gone and has been gone for a long time. If you are on the Bimblers Sound website reading this, then chances are that you too were separated from yours a while ago.
How do I know? In preparation for the Pikes Peak trail marathon next month, I decided to go to Vernon, New Jersey this past Saturday and run a few hills. The event is called Running with the Devil and is put on by the sadistic folks at the New Jersey Trail Series.
The course is 5k loop that starts at the base lodge of Mountain Creek ski area, goes up 1100 feet or so to the summit and then returns back down to the lodge. So each lap has 1100 feet of ascent and 1100 feet of descent. There were 3 divisions: 12 hours, 6 hours or 3 hours. I signed up for the 6 hour thinking that it was reasonable with Pikes Peak only a month away.
Boy, how did things get so far off the tracks that I now think running uphill for 6 hours is reasonable?
In retrospect, I should have known better but look at this graph from the race’s website showing the elevation-, it’s such a nice pretty green color- clearly it didn’t seem so bad.
How bad was it? well, I am not going to complain especially given the impressive and inspiring feats of endurance that I read about regularly here. What I will say is that the pretty green picture was deceiving.
At 9am someone yelled start and ½ the group took off as if it was their favorite local 5k. Before the race I was told there were a few “flattish” spots” that were kind of runnable. So I tried to take it easy on the first lap and make time where I could…… I am still waiting. There were 2 sections that were moderately pitched as the trail traversed up the mountain. So I ran where I could, hiked where I couldn’t run, and before long I was up at the top and ready to run down. On the way down I tried to open my stride , however, the steepness and visions of those terrible falls in the cheese rolling championship made it hard to do.
At the bottom of each lap, racers have to go through a timing chute in the lodge. Like the Sirens beckoning Odysseus, coolers of cold drinks, food, snacks and chairs tempted racers from promptly starting another loop. Early on it was easy to stay on task and rush right back out to start the next loop, but as the day progressed the lodge became more inviting and not surprisingly became crowded with racers some of whom had quit for the day but just didn’t know it.
The laps are short in distance and time passed fairly quickly. Things were fine. I had promised myself that I could sit down for a few minutes after my 3rd loop and take the time to eat and drink. Refreshed, I headed back out and thought things were fine. it wouldn’t last. It was during the 4th loop that I received a memo from my quads indicating that they were not pleased with the activity I had selected for the day. I did what we all do, ignored them thinking it would simply go away. It didn’t .
As the day progressed the course became less crowded. There were a lot of 3hr runners and by noon just the 12 hr runners and the 6 hr runners were left. While I didn’t know anyone else running, I will say that like most trail races, everyone was super friendly- even the guy who I saw near the summit in the afternoon who was on his hands and knees crawling. Yes, I did ask him if he was ok and he said he was fine.
Between the hill, my own thoughts and seeing other runners there was plenty to distract me. There were some incredible runners participating in the event. The 12 hour race was very close with the winner, Tony Carino covering 48.5 miles and the second and third place runners each covering 47.5 miles.
I kept plodding along and before long I knew that I only had time for one more lap. However, the race director was kind enough to come up with a solution to that problem: a short ½ mile loop consisting of running up one of ski trails and back down. So racers who didn’t have enough time for a full loop , could run one or more shorter loops. After finishing my last long loop I had 20 minutes left and thought I was done for the day, but I was shamed and manipulated (not hard to do) into running a short loop.
Done for the day- 7 loops, 1 short loop for a total of 8k feet of elevation and 22 miles.
The event was very well run and it turned out to be a great day and a perfect training race for Pike’s Peak. If you are looking for a hilly course to run in July, Running With the Devil is perfect, but not an entirely reasonable, way to spend a Saturday.