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The North Face Endurance 50 Mile race report.

2416 Views 39 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  toe jam on crusty feet
This is a long race report, as they usually are from me (i will try to add pics later!)<br><br>
The short: this was an inaugural race and the organization, aid stations, trail markings, trail mileage, and medical personell were terrible. This race became a large disappointment. It was a long, hard, and very hot and humid race. I finished right before the cutoff and because only 4 females finished the race and all the other women in my age group dropped out, i got first age group and 4th female overall<br><br>
The North Face Endurance 50M<br>
August 4, 2007<br><br>
Not sure where to start with the race. Even before race day we were receiving emails with mixed messages about trail markings and course directions. I decided it would all make sense when i got there, it usually does. The night before the race, Derrick (Durt) and I went to the mall behind our hotel to pick up our race packets at the North Face store. Dinner with Linda, our crew, Derricks wife, Mandy and her boyfriend. After some ice cream, it was then early to bed for a 3:15 wake up. I did not sleep well at all and Linda and I both had weird dreams about waking up that early. I would be shocked if i slept more than 2 hours.<br><br>
Race morning, I met Derrick in the hotel lobby at 4:04 am (I was 4 minutes late in his eyes) and we headed over to the park where the race was going to start. Once there, we got our drop bags together, donned our headlamps and headed over to the start/ finish line to check in and set up our drops. The most interesting thing about the prerace was that we had to wear a timing chip, but there was a purse on the winning spots, so i guess exact times mattered. Right before the race began, the race "host" Dean Karnazes, showed up with his entourage. He is tiny in real life, kinda weird.<br><br>
The race started right about 5am and we headed up a gravel road towards the trail in the pitch black. The field took off and within minutes Derrick, myself, and another runner, were dead last. I had never seen a field go out that fast and really wondered how they expected to keep that pace for the remainder of the day, especially with the forecast of hot and humid, temps supposed to be near 100F. WIthin an hour, even though it was still dark, it was so muggy that my shirt was already saturated with sweat.<br><br>
It was dark and hazy and i was having a hard time seeing where we were going. I did not want to fall that early in the race. We hit the first aid station in good time and were running a pretty speedy pace at about 10:30 miles.<br><br>
The next section was "difficult run" and ironically it was probably the least difficult section of the race. It was a three mile out and back to the aid station. At the end of the 3 miles, there was a lone table and a sharpie marker to mark our bibs. For the most of the morning miles, Derrick and I were near each other and he was usually next to me, or in my line of sight. At one point i did fall and i have no idea how. Bad words and noises came out of my mouth, as falling has become more the norm than the exception in my last couple races.<br><br>
Right before we hit 14 miles, Derrick got a bit ahead of me and i entered a section, alone, called "the cliffs." I am VERY afraid of heights and there were these huge rocks and sheer drops down to the river below, hundreds of feet below. I was petrified and missed a trail turn. I turned around shortly after missing the flag and I finally neared the start finish line, where i saw Derrick. I was confused, but just kept following the arrows on the ground.<br><br>
I then hit the aid station, where Linda, our fearless crew and cheer section waited. Turned out that Derrick thought the start finish line was the aid station. Good thing we saw each other! The race volunteer filled up my camelbak hydration pack, Linda cleaned up my legs from the fall, i picked up some more clif blocks and headed back on the trial. The volunteers told me that it was a 15 mile round trip and 5 miles to the next aid station. I was soon by myself and kept running and running and running. After a little while, 50K lead runners started to pass me. After over an hour, i got a little worried and just kept trudging on. I kept asking the 50K'ers if they thought we had gone more than 5 miles, and every one said YES! At one point i got passed by two 50K front runners, TWICE, they got lost and think they veered many many miles off the course.<br><br>
As i was running this endless section, i ran out of water, the woman did NOT fill my hydration pack up and i was hot, hungry, thirsty, and feeling like i would never hit the aid station, but i finally did! The volunteers said that people reported to them that they thought that section was 6-8 miles and that it was 5 miles to the next aid station and the turn around. Around 25 miles into 50 mile races, i always hit my low point, and this was about that time. I was sluggish, tired, and a wee bit cranky. I kept running and walking and when i started to see runners heading back the other direction, i was happy. I got distracted at one point reading a sign about being careful running along the edge of the golf course, and I fell pretty hard, tripping on a big ol root. My hand was cut up in multiple places, as was my left leg and i was covered in dirt. Not happy about that!<br><br>
Finally, i hit a long gravel road and I could just barely make out the aid station at the end. I had not seen Derrick come back down the trail, so I hoped to see him there. I got to the aid station and runners were sitting in chairs looking beat and worn out. I looked around and could not find Derrick. I started to panic and asked if there were any drops, they said no, and then they said there was one runner that had just gone into the portapotty. It was Derrick!!!!! i was so happy to see him, it really revived me. We headed back out on the trail, but unfortunately he was having some tummy issues. I kept oscillating between running with him and running with a couple other runners near us. I started to feel really good and just took off running. I knew it was about 1:15 to the next aid station.<br><br>
At one point i was running with two runners, a man and a woman, and we got off course. We could not find our way back and had just come up a big climb we did not want to have to repeat. We kept walking and walking and walking and did not find the trail. Finally, the woman said that the outbound trail was along the river, so we should bushwhack it down to the river and hopefully hit the trail. We came up to a large downed tree and as she climbed up on it, her legs cramped up. It was very bad, but luckily brief. We finally did return to the correct trail and spread back out.<br><br>
At one point on this stretch i passed Mandy who was very unhappy and not doing well. She thought she was going to not make the cutoff and had previously run out of water. It was way too hot of a day for that, and i think she reached that point of no return once she had hit the aid station to refuel. I gave her a hug and we parted ways.<br><br>
Back at the next aid station, Derrick caught up to me and we passed a handful of 50 miler racers and headed back to the start/finsih aid station where Linda was. This was the endless stretch and we both were very hungry. I was starving and my tummy was growling. I had run out of clif blocks, because they told me it was only 15 miles total out and back. Derrick heard someone at the 20 mile point say their Garmin read 25 miles. Who knows how far we had run. When we finally did get back to the aid station, Linda made us ice bandanas and we chowed. I drank a chocolate soy milk and ate a bag of cookies they had there. My hands were very swollen from the humidity and i soaked them in the bin of iced bottles of Accelerade to relieve the pain.<br><br>
(continued with next post)
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The race was right outside of DC near McLean, VA. Great Falls Park?<br><br>
yes, the lack of water, etc was very scary. Some people posted on the ultraboard at CR about a runner passing out on the course and another that fell to the ground after all their muscles siezed.
I think Durt and you have more stamina than me. Frustration with the organization would have DNF'd me. Good going. Both of you look strong in your pic.
it was simply one foot in front of the other, even if it was a power walk. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"> The mental aspect of ultrarunning is probably a lot harder than the actual physical aspect, imo. Especially since a lot of races are desolate and you can be alone on the trails for a long time, unlike road races.
mentally it was a tough race! esp. after i lost my cookies around mile 26. when i caught up with DETurtle, I really thought about a DNF. i was kinda wiped, but i got smart--took some ginger, and shut my brain off.
hehe. i did not know he ever puked! he was sly about it. i am surprised i did not see people puking all over the place at that race with the heat.
Here is a picture of the falls:<br><br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
And here is a picture of Dean Karnaze's back:<br><br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;">
ha! you gotta post the dean butt pic on the ultra forum <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">
Great job Meri!!!!<br><br>
Sorry about your bellybutton. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Sad"><br><br>
A nice little 50 mile training run in brutal conditions. I had trouble doing 27 in the H&H this past weekend...<br><br>
When you see me staggering at JFK this fall please kick me in the azz. You Rock woman!!!!
Trouble maker! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy">
ha! I don't wanna get beat up! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy">
I will post it then!!!! i was serious <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"><br><br>
dg1- i doubt i will ever see you at JFK once we start the race.
Well done Meri, hope the logistics get better next time
I'm sorry that the race didn't work out so well. I've been trying to communicate with the NF people out here for our version of the race (and I even have an "in" via Sam, the original 50-in-50-in-50 person)... and all along it has felt a little "off". Hmmm.<br><br>
They decided to ditch a well-established 50 course here for a much more adventurous jaunt around a local mountain. This is kinda good because the original course is boring. But kinda bad because the trails on that mountain can be confusing... and your story about your race certainly doesn't put me more at ease.<br><br>
BUT. You did finish and you did work hard, so that's a cool thing.
Congratulations-I think you did awesome<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"> The conditions were obviously less then perfect but still you managed to prevail. As usual you are amazing!
SR- I do not think the disorganization and trail markers would have been so bad if there was not the added burden of very very hot and humid weather. I think the combination was what caused the issues.
Way to go, Meri. Even for you, as someone who touts the heat, I imagine that even this day was a bear. Its apparent you know your nutrition and hydration science--your smarts allows you to finish strong.<br><br>
Sorry to hear about the race organization.
Great job! I cant imagine running 50 miles in good conditions and with proper water and trail markings let alone what you had to deal with <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="notworthy">
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