Saturday, December 15, 2007

URINEO FA 50 Miler

Last night after work I stopped over Bob's house to screw another pair of my shoes for tomorrow's run, not knowing whether or not the trail would be icy (it turned out that the trail was dry and leaf covered so I actually didn't need screwed shoes, but it never hurts to have them). I then headed over to my parent's house in Warren, which is just down the road from Bob, to spend the night. Before I knew it the alarm was going off at 5:20 and my brother Jeff and I got ready to drive over to Mill Creek Park in Youngstown for the 2nd Annual URINEO FA 50 Miler, which consists of six 8.3 mile loops and is organized by the NEO Trail Club. I was planning on heading back home to Streetsboro right after the run since there was a winter storm expected to arrive later in the day, so we drove seperate vehicles.

On our way to Mill Creek we stopped at McDonald's and I picked up 2 sausage McMuffins to eat on the way. Maybe not the healthiest food in the world, but I always enjoy having a couple of these before an ultra since I know it won't take long for me to burn off the calories. As we exited onto Belle Vista Ave. I noticed that the SUV in front of me had a BT50K sticker on the window so I knew right away that this was a runner also heading to Mill Creek Park. As we both pulled into the same gas station I would learn that it was Kurt "oPod", Mike and Josh in the car. We all made a bathroom stop and I bought 2 gallons of water for the run. We then arrived at the Lily Pond parking lot and I could see a bunch of cars there already with their lights off. I got out of my car to get my gear in order and not long after I saw a few headlamps heading towards us on a high ridge over to the right. It could only be 3 people... Bob, Jim, and Mike Dobies, who all started a couple hours early in order to get one loop out of the way. I yelled at them and they hollered back with their turkey calls.

Once they arrived, Bob announced that there was 10 minutes left until the 7AM start. Lights went on immediately and everyone hopped out of their cars to get ready. After a quick group photo we were off.

From left to right: Myself, Mike Keller (standing), Kurt OPod (kneeling), Josh Dillingham, Kim Love-Ottobre, Dan Fox, Rita Barnes, Bob Combs, Frank Dwyer, and Joe Novicky

As everyone headed onto the trail I noticed another car pull into the parking lot. It was my friend Dan Kuzma. He was ready to go upon arrival, so he joined my brother and I for the start. My plan today was only to run 4 loops for a 50K since I had just finished a 70 miler a month ago. Dan and Jeff were also planning on doing the same. This was my brother's first attempt at the 50K distance. This course is never easy though no matter what distance you do. This is mainly due to the "monkey trail" hills on the east side of Lake Cohassett, which are a set of many short but steep climbs. As soon as you reach the top of these hills you immediately head back downhill, which gradually tires out your quads and calves as the run progresses.

I wore my headlamp for the first 1/2 hour or so but was suprised to find out I wouldn't need it anymore as the sky began to lighten up faster than I thought it would. The trail was dry and in pretty good shape but there were a lot of leaves covering up all the roots and rocks. The scenery would definitely change later in the day though. On the high side of Lake Glacier we caught up with the rest of the group and we all stuck together for most of the loop. Somewhere along the first loop Jeff went ahead of me and ran with Dan and Josh for awhile.

Joe "Moose" Novicky running past us

As we reached Lanterman's Mill (the turnaround point of each loop) it was awesome to see how much water was flowing over the waterfall. It hasn't looked like this for some time with our dry summer and fall...

The first loop felt pretty good, as it usually does. I was surprisingly a little bit hungry though towards the end of it. Back at our cars I stopped to pick up my waistpack & water bottle (which I didn't wear for the first loop), grabbed a couple small things to eat, and then headed back on the trail with Jeff and Dan. On this 2nd loop I would also end up spending some trail time with Dan Fox from Cleveland and Rita Barnes from Columbus, both very nice people.

Jeff and Dan

Dan Fox

As we neared Pioneer Pavillion we ran past Mike and Kim....

Onward we went past another beautiful waterfall section on the course and one of my favorite spots. This section of trails can be found on the west side of Lake Cohassett and is only run on the third loop of the YUT-C 50K course...

As I got closer to the Lily Pond parking lot I ran into Jim and Mike Dobies near the steel staircase, who both stopped for a photo with Rita and Dan.

I thought I was going to see Jeff running towards me on the trail as he started his 3rd loop. However, I was kind of surprised when I reached my car at the Lily Pond and didn't see him. I asked Josh, who was eating/drinking at his vehicle, if he had seen my brother and he said that he was using the outdoor restroom. So, I waited around for a bit and then he showed up. Before we left for the 3rd loop I drank a bottle of Ensure, had a Clif Bar, and ate a Reeses Cup. Once Jeff and I were done warming up in the car we then headed back out. He told me that his legs were starting to feel a little sore and that this was going to be more difficult than he had first thought. Since this was his first ultra marathon I told him we could stay together, if he wanted, for the last 2 loops. He agreed and we continued on. Before leaving our cars we saw Moose heading back onto the trail, so we made an effort to catch back up to him. He was moving pretty good today and we didn't catch up to him until a little bit past the Old Log Cabin (start/finish of YUT-C). We chatted for a bit and then moved ahead of him just before the Stone Bridge. After going a little bit past Pioneer Pavillion we then saw Dave Peterman on the trail who did a nice fake pose for the camera...

At this point Jeff and I were both dreading going up and down the monkey trail hills for the 3rd time today. We were tired and started mixing in more walking but made it a point to continue our steady forward progress. Once we got back to the Lily Pond again, Bob was sitting in a chair outside of his truck, waiting on Jim to finish his 5th loop. We talked for a bit and then Bob said "Get your stuff and get out of here!" It's a good thing he started early and was done in time to yell at us, because it would've been very tempting to waste more time at our cars.

On the fourth loop my left quad was pretty sore, especially on the downhills... but I knew we were on our last loop now and getting close to being done... so... we continued the death march. As we got close to the steel bridge that the park had just finished refurbishing I could hear people talking ahead. I told Jeff it sounded like Mike and Kim so we decided to hide behind a large rock and yell at them as they went past. All of a sudden we jumped out and I seriously thought they were both going to have a heart attack from the expression on their faces. It was pretty funny... Sorry guys... it was hard to resist. Before leaving them, they informed us that they were also only doing one more loop to make it a 50K for the day.

Jeff and I continued to work our way up to Lanterman's Mill for the final time and were very happy to make the turn back north. Not happy to have the monkey trail hills coming up again... but happy to almost be done. Once we finished these hills I noticed that it was starting to snow some. It started out very light but quickly turned more steady. By the time we reached the Old Log Cabin to make the final turn back to the Lily Pond there was already an inch of snow on the ground. It made the leaves covering the trail pretty slick and I was wondering how bad it would be for Mike, Kim and Dave, who would still be out on the trail when we finished. Here's a photo that Mike took when they reached the Mill. What a drastic change from earlier...

As Jeff and I reached the last turn to head downhill to the Lily Pond we ran into Bob who was walking backwards on the trail to look for us. We all walked together and then made a final sprint to the cars as we got close, finishing in 8:18. Jim was standing in the parking lot and gave us a cheer. I am very proud of my brother for pushing through the pain and discomfort today and am glad that I was able to share in the experience of his first ultra finish. Good job Jeff!

With the snow coming down heavy now, we hurried to clean off our cars and then put on a change of clothes for the ride home. There was only one problem... When I turned the key to start my car nothing happened! I thought, man.. this is great. I finish running 33 miles with a winter storm on top of us, and now I can't get home. Luckily Bob had a set of jumper cables in his Suburban so we hooked them up to Jim's van and it got me going again. Thanks again Bob! On my way home the roads were getting pretty bad, but fortunately I was able to make it back to Streetsboro to buy a new battery at AutoZone. Mike and Kim ended up finishing their 50K and Dave Peterman put up an excellent effort to run a sixth and final loop in the blizzard to complete 50 miles. For complete results and other race reports visit -

Everyone had a great time this weekend and I'm already looking forward to the next trail run I can share with my friends!

1 comment:

Mike said...

That sounds like it was a lot of fun. I wish I was there. While you folks were doing the FA, I was at the boston store taking my brother Dale on his first BT run ever. He is registered for the Winter BT 1/2M. Due to a medical condition, he will never be able to do an ultra, but he and I have fun doing shorter runs.