Monday, May 30, 2011

Race Report: Sehgahunda Trail Marathon, 5.28.11: The Quagmire

The Race: Sehgahunda Trail Marathon, Letchworth State Park, NY.  Point-to-point from Mt. Morris dam to the parade grounds in Portageville, following the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) through the park and along the Genesee River gorge.

The Trail: Beautiful singletrack through mixed hardwoods and some red pine stands.  No killer climbs but 112 stream crossings (yes, one hundred and twelve) = run down to each stream and back up the other side.  Almost all dirt, very little rock.  Remember this for later....

The Aid Stations: All on roads.  An uphill run from the FLT along access trails that were often open, grassy swales, most of them probably at least a half-mile one-way and some seemed like a mile or more.  Of course, the volunteers all ROCKED!!  Thank You all!

The Set-up: One of the wettest April's on record. Followed by a wet May.  Race day preceded by a week of rain from a stalled frontal system draped over WNY.  And a hellacious thunderstorm the night before the race. With me hunkered down in my van trying to sleep.  Gotta love the night before a race.  It's always something...

The Result: Mud.  Mud.  And more mud.  Often to the shoe laces on 60-70% (?) of the course (seemed like 100%!!).  Ankle deep was common.  Those access trails to the aid stations?  Mid-calf deep in places, and I'm not exaggerating.  Not.  The stream crossings?  The "run" down was more like skiing in your trail shoes and picking out which trees to catch along the way to prevent a complete free-fall.  Getting back up often required digging in with your fingers or grabbing roots to pull yourself up.  In other words, a great day on the trails.

My socks were white before the race.  The little bit of skin on my right ankle is where they chiseled off the timing chip at the finish.  And note the sliver of skin where my shorts are pulled up on my right leg. But no picture could begin to explain what it was really like out there...

The Results: 6:20:05, not bad given the trail conditions and the fact this was just a training run for me, which I went into with very tired legs.  Good for 5th in my age group (ok, so there were only 20 of us ;).  I'm actually very psyched, great finish for a back-o-the-packer like me.  Guess I like it dirty.  And there were double the number of DNF's compared to last year.  Guess some people don't like it dirty.  Silly, silly people.

The Verdict: Not sure I'll run it again--at least, not sure I'd drive 4 hours to run it again, but if I was in the area I surely would.  FLT is sweet but those long runs UP to the aid stations--I wasn't likin' that.  Neither was anyone else I talked to.  Even though the mileage was part of the course (and thus the aid stations were required checkpoints, you couldn't skip any), there was just something really, well, miserable about getting to aid in this race.  I hated it every time I saw the arrow out to an aid station.  How's that for something different?

The End.  Yep, that's all I got.  Now get off the computer and go run a muddy trail!