JFK 50 Miler

Milestone Day, 2010 - Race - Exeter, NH - 4.5

Day 164 - I love it when I get to time a race. I love it when I get paid to time a race. I love it when I get paid to time a race and also run the race. I love it when I get paid to time a race and also run the race and also win the race.

The race was put on by GoLite Footwear and Acidotic Racing on one of the MOST technical trails I've ever had the experience to race on. We're talking roots, rocks, wooden planks, mud pits, streams, ankle rolls, bad spills, and total awesomeness! These trails were carved out by trail/mountain bikers, so there's no rhyme or reason other than extreme difficulty.

I was given a free entry by the RD to run the 4.6 mile course with the understanding that I'd be back in time to record and post results for the 4.6 and, the main event, the 10 miler. So the pressure was on for me to not get myself killed out on the course, and to get back in time to time the race.

I started the race with everyone else after giving instructions to the wonderful volunteers who would help me record the finishing times for both races.

The course went from pavement to single track in under 10 seconds and it only got crazier from there. There was a wooden plank crossing right away and I nearly bit it on that portion.

The skies were threatening all morning, so there wasn't much light to begin with, and it got even darker the further you went into the woods. At one point, I actually had trouble seeing he forest floor! Not good when you're running a technical course. Even worse when you have other runners breathing down your neck on a tight single track course.

Trail racing is mentally and physically demanding, more so than most other races over the same distance. You are constantly focused and looking down to avoid natural obstacles. There's no time to relax or lose focus. The moment you lose focus is the moment you catch your foot on a root or rock and go tumbling down. Hard.

My worse injury last year was actually at the Wapack 16 miler trail race, another really technical course. I came off of a ledge, 4 miles in, and turned my ankle. I heard the distinct pop in my ankle and knew it was all over. I stupidly tried to continue on for another mile (hoping to catch a ride at the 5th mile aid station), only to limp-hike back the 5 miles to the start. I knew I had done something nasty the moment I took off my shoe.

Today's race was only my second trail race since the Wapack late last year, and I could still hear the "pop" sound replaying in my mind as I raced through the first mile.

I had no idea who I was racing against since the 4.6 and 10 milers started together. I was passed by a handful of runners early on, some of which I knew were running the 10 miler. It wasn't until a little after the first mile (7:57) that the two courses diverged, and the two groups went their separate ways. I continued on with the 4.6 mile course and found myself all alone. Nobody in front. Nobody behind.

I picked up the pace a bit as I wanted to see if I could catch anyone in front of me. Nobody.

I quickly went by a couple of very vocal volunteers directing traffic, but didn't bother asking if anyone else had come through ahead of me. I wanted to find out myself. I did however use the volunteers to gauge how far in front I was of the person behind me. After passing them, I mentally started to count the seconds between my passing and the sound of the volunteers directing the next runner. 15 seconds.

I started to really get comfortable and even relaxed a bit! And right on cue, I came down awkwardly on a group of rocks and did a quick ankle roll and tweak. That was close.

My focus was back and I went through the next couple of miles (7:58,8:27) as hard as I could, with the idea that I had a shot at finishing in 1st place! I once again used another group of volunteers to detect the runners behind me. 30 seconds!

I thought I had at least another mile to go when I realized how close I was to the finish. Did I miss a turn somewhere? No. The course was really well-marked and the other runners were right behind me throughout the race. Richie Blake, who's been up in these woods before, later told me that it's normal to lose satellite reception and for the Garmin to be off.

The last mile was brutal with a couple of "camel humps" to climb over. but it did give me a nice view of the course behind me. It looked like the race was mine to win as long as I could hang on.

I popped out of the woods at mile 4 (8:08) and dashed through the finish chute that I had set up 32 minutes prior! That was interesting.

I quickly went into race timer mode and got everything ready for the other finishers. The volunteers did their part superbly and the final results went off without a hitch. Thanks, guys!

The official results for the 4.6 miler confirmed that this was my 1st overall finish at any race (not named Fudgicle)! I collected my prize (6 pack of beer - only in NH) and headed home.

(What my ankle looked like after my "slight" tweak up above)


  1. tape your ankles when in the trails

  2. Thanks, DQ! Will be doing that going forward! I'm a slow learner.