Saturday, December 5, 2009


"Nonsense is nonsense only when we have not yet found that point of view from which it makes sense." - G. Zukov
My brother and I woke up bright and early this morning and headed over to Mill Creek Park in Youngstown for the 4th Annual URINEO FA. This event, which is pronounced "yer-een-o", is organized each year by the N.E. Ohio Trail Club and stands for "Ultra Runners in N.E. Ohio" or "You're in Ohio!". If you're not familiar with FA runs, click here to read a description.
This run, which takes place on the YUT-C 50K/25K course, begins at the Lily Pond parking lot and features many items of interest along a 8.3 mile loop (lakes, waterfalls, creek crossings, historic buildings, the infamous "Love Log", and the infamous "Monkey Trail". The ultimate goal set each year for URINEO is 50 miles. However, since this is an FA everyone is allowed to run as much or as little as they wish.

This year a new option was on the table after NEO Trail Club member Mike Dobies came up with the "brilliant" idea for anyone interested to run twenty-seven .9 mile out and back sections on the Monkey Trail over and over again until the "Monkey Trail Marathon" distance was reached. For anyone that doesn't know, this section is the toughest part of the YUT-C course and includes many undulating climbs. Coincidentally Mike was unable to join us today, but since the idea was now stuck in the minds of Jim Harris, my brother Jeff, and I, we were committed to the task at hand.

Jeff and I arrived at the parking lot on top of the Monkey Trail hills around 5am. We saw Jim's van already parked there since we were a few minutes late, but after a few quick whistle blasts from the emergency whistle that Tanya Cady gave me two weekends ago at Laurel Highlands, we heard Jim yell back at us. He was on his first lap and headed towards us, so we waited and met up with him.

The first 3 laps or so didn't seem too bad since my legs were still fresh and I was trying to stay warm, but around lap 6 or 7 I could tell that this was going to get real old real fast. By repeating the same hills over and over again it definitely became a mentally challenge. Somewhere around this time Jeff and I decided to get the aid (cookies, Pringles, gel, water) that I brought out of his car and set it on the picnic table located in the middle of the Monkey Trail. This became a great re-fueling point on each lap.

As I approached my 13th lap on the Monkey Trail I started to reconsider completing the entire 26 miles here. I've been putting in a lot of big mileage runs lately and thought to myself that it might not be a good idea to run my body too far into the ground. My main decision for getting off the Monkey Trail hills though was just the monotony of not having new scenery to look at. So, as I reached mile 13 I told Jeff and Jim that I was going to finish the rest of my mileage on the standard URINEO course which loops around Lake Glacier and Lake Cohasset.

I was slightly disappointed to be abandoning my original plan of finishing 26 miles on the Monkey Trail, but once I got off of these hills I could feel my IT band on my right knee starting to get sore and tighten up a bit. I guess my body wasn't too happy with me doing 4 1/2 hours of non-stop climbing 2 weeks after a 64 miler. So, at this point I realized that I had made the right decision. For the rest of the day I did a lot of walking on the URINEO course to give my IT Band a break and it seemed to help quite a bit. Yes, I was slightly disappointed to abandon my original plan for the day. But by the time it was all said and done I was still able to finish 26 miles and live for another day.

Click here to see the final results and other blog reports. Congrats to Slim Jim for being the first and only finisher of the Monkey Trail Marathon! Also congrats to Todd Hanks and Gavin White, who both completed their first ultra marathon distance today!

Afterwards we all enjoyed hot soup and beverages in the Lily Pond parking lot and had a great time talking about trail running and anything that came to mind. This fun run is just one of many NEO Trail Club events that truly exemplify what ultra running is all about!

1 comment:

Slim said...

Nice Report.

Am thinking about another MHM in January.