Sunday, January 18, 2009

2009 Winter Buckeye Trail 50K

Wow, what a tough day! Leading up to today's Winter Buckeye Trail 50K we had received around a foot of snow here in N.E. Ohio due to a winter storm that hit a couple weeks ago. Add another 2-3 inches of fresh powder from last night and that sets the stage for a very grueling race.

Yesterday I stopped by the Boston Store around 3:30 to pick up my race number (#69!) from Tanya. While I was inside I talked to Rob Lisy, Vince Rucci, Kim Love-Ottobre, and Ron Ross. Just before I pulled into the parking lot I ran into NEO Trail member Jim Harris on the bridge. At this point I believe he was 13 miles into his proposed 100 mile Buckeye Trail run. His plan was to run 70 miles before the BT50K and then finish up the last 30 miles during the race in the morning. He ended up calling it a night though around midnight with 40 miles completed due to the tough trail conditions, but he still was able to run an amazing 50K the next day. 8th place in just over 6 hours.. Nice job Jim!

Jim & I stopping for a photo near Pine Lane

The next morning I arrived at the Boston Store early (around 6:15) to make sure I could get a parking space in the overflow lot. It wasn't long before lots of cars began rolling in. After getting my stuff organized I walked over to the M.D. Garage where everyone gathers before the race and talked with NEO Trail member Bruce McMurray and another Youngstown runner Mark Sorrentino, who was running the half marathon today (his first trail race). Then I talked with Jim Harris and his sons Heath and Eric, who were both running the half marathon. Heath ended up winning the half marathon with a time of 1:57:30. This was his 3rd straight race victory.

After a race explanation from Tanya everyone headed out of the garage and the race was underway a little before 7:30. Immediately after the start line there is a quick left turn onto the Towpath which then takes you past the Stanford Hostel and onto the Brandywine Trail. For the first 5 minutes there was a lot of walking and stop-and-go running due to the large amount of people and the very tight single track trail. Nobody wanted to venture outside of this packed down trail because there was a good 6-8 inches of snow alongside of it.

The race course consists of 2 out-and-backs on each side of the Boston Store - the Brandywine loop, which is 5 miles and the Pine Lane loop, which is 8 miles. To complete the entire 50K distance, runners must do the Brandywine loop 3 times and the Pine Lane loop 2 times. Aid stations are placed at the Boston Store and on the far end of each loop.

I ran the first 2.5 miles out to the first aid station very slowly to let everyone ahead of me pack the trail down. The problem was that the trail never got packed down throughout the day as good as I thought it would, and it felt like I was sliding either backwards or sideways on each foot strike. The best way to describe today's trail conditions is to imagine running on the beach for 31 miles. And to top it off, it snowed pretty hard for a good part of the day. I think this helped distract me though and got my mind off of the trail conditions.

Good thing there was enough ice on this stream crossing

I picked up my speed on the way back to the Boston Store and then tried to settle down into a more consistent pace for the rest of the day. The thing I like about this race is that you get to see everyone on the course multiple times, allowing everyone to encourage each other and enjoy lots of small talk. During the middle of the run when everyone was beginning to get tired, a couple other runners and myself jokingly discussed how everyone always says "Hey! You're looking good!" or "Nice Job! Keep it up!" and thought it would be funny to tell people "Hey! You look like sh$%!" or "Boy, your pace sure slowed down from the last time I saw you!" Of course, we didn't really act on our discussion.... OK, maybe we told a few people... =)

The day became tougher for everyone the longer it went on, and a lot of runners quit earlier than they wanted to. The hardest part of this race for me is finishing Pine Lane for the last time before heading onto the last Brandywine loop. Luckily I forgot that my brother was planning on meeting me at the Boston Store for the last couple loops. I told him to meet me here at 11am and sure enough I arrived at 11:08. I thought it was pretty funny how close I was to my estimated arrival time. Having Jeff on the trail to chat with was a big help and I kept pushing on though. Once we arrived at the Boston Store for the last time I got a huge energy boost and was able to do the last 5 miles in pretty good time to finish the 50K in 20th place with a time of 6:34:04. For complete results, click here.

Special thanks to Tanya Cady (race director) and all the volunteers who stood in the cold to help out in some way! Also, I was very impressed again with the race jacket - a nice royal blue Brooks windbreaker that was embroidered. Afterwards I headed over to the Winking Lizard with a bunch of runners for some well deserved food and beer. Life was definitely good today!


Clara said...

Wow- that was an awesome run for you in really tough conditions. Good job!

Brian said...


Michelle said...

Great race Brian!
Those conditions had to really take a toll but you still pulled out an awesome run.

Brian said...

Thanks Michelle! It wasn't easy..