Saturday, March 30, 2013

FPR Race Directors Race 50K: March 30th, 2013

Jess and I volunteered on April 27th for the Mohican Forget the PR 50K and 25K race put on by Rob Powell.  This is a great event and it was here that I completed my first ultra marathon in April of 2012.  There are many cool things about the main event such as the super challenging but awesome / fun course in the Mohican Forest , the awesome aid stations, the coolest race director who is at the finish line to greet every runner as they finish, and also the family like atmosphere that surrounds the race.  The after party is really cool as well as there is usually kegs of beer and some great vegan food.  In 2011 I volunteered for this race and had just as much fun volunteering as I did running it in 2012.  So this year I got to experience the best of both worlds.  Every year Rob gives the volunteers the opportunity to run the course with minimal aid and minimal course markings.  If the volunteers complete the 50K they get a buckle just like they would if they were running the actual event.  So I decided to volunteer  and run the Race Directors Race, which was held a month before the actual event.

That's what I call some mobile aid!
I was going to camp at the campground the night before the race directors race but the temps were dipping down in the high 20s / low 30s and I would of had to set up camp in the dark.  I took the easy way out and opted to stay at a hotel about 25 minutes away.   I arrived at the starting area about 20 minutes early.  I wanted a chance to visit with T-P (Michael Toth-Purcell).  He is a friend of mine who lives in Ann Arbor that I met while running on the Potawatomi trail in May of 2012.  It turns out that T-P worked at the same company as me but was stationed out of our corporate office and I work at the TSDF in Detroit.  When I mentioned this event to T-P he wanted to enter the race in 2013.  He grew up in Ohio and took many family trips to the Mohican state forest and he seemed really excited about running a 50K there.  In fact, he was so excited that he volunteered to run a mobile aid station for the race directors race!  So, I got there and said hello to everyone and listened to the instructions about the course.  There was a last minute change in our route because they had close down part of the trails so the gas company could cut down trees in one of the most beautiful places in Ohio.  That's all I will say about that because I don't want this blog to turn into a political soap box!

Then we gathered on the dirt road next to Mohican Adventures Campground and Rob yelled Go!  So we were off and I was running with the lead group to start.  They were flying up the first few hills and really going at a fast pace.  For some reason I just kept running with them at that fast pace.  My biggest problem is when my legs feel good I like to really push it.  So we were cruising along and a few of us missed the first turn of the day!  Luckily we quickly realized what we did and got back on course.  So about two miles into the race we reached Big Ass Hill and began our trek up that monster!  As we were climbing up that steep beast I looked over and seen some younger guy running up Big Ass Hill.  What?!!  I have ever seen anyone run up that hill but this kid ran the whole thing like it was no big deal.  The rest of us were dying when we finally made it to the  From there we had to take the road over to fire tower and when we got there T-P's mobile aid station was all set up with snacks and water.  He was also offering a clothing drop since the temperature had risen a lot since the early morning cold.  After refueling, we took off toward the bridal staging area and then hit the bridal trails in the southern part of the Mohican State Forest.

Mac and I trying to figure out where we got off course
After a few more miles we came to the first shin deep river crossing, it was cold but invigorating!  My feet were likes blocks of ice after coming out of that river (water temps around 35 degrees), but it did not take long for them to dry out and warm back up.  Around this time I met another runner named Mac and we ended up running together for a long ways and crossed two more rivers before the next aid station.  When we were getting close to the aid station at Rock Point we ran into Rob on the trails and he said Mac and I were in first place.  Umm...that's impossible because there was two different groups of people ahead of us that were leading.  Crap!  Did we miss a turn?  Getting lost was my biggest concern going into this race since I am not completely familiar with the trails.  As we got to Rock Point we were refueling and the other two groups rolled in.  According to another runner's Garmin compared to mine we had missed about 1.25 miles.  Mac and I thanked T-P and Ron (another guy who ran the race in April and came to help with the mobile aid station) as we left Rock Point and we both vowed to make up that missed mile at the end of the 50K.  We pushed on through the bridle trails and got to a confusing trail intersection where Mac made a good decision which led us in the right direction.  The group of 3 runners in second place would eventually make the wrong turn at this intersection.  I will touch on that later in this report.

The chilly Mohican river!
Mac and I made it back to the fire tower where we refueled on some snacks provided by the T-P mobile aid station.  Then I seen the first place runner coming back to this area from making a wrong turn and going a few miles out of the way.  Mac and I left the fire tower and started our decent to the covered bridge.  I got ahead of Mac in this section and I felt pretty good so I just kept going solo.  I got to covered bridge and Ron was there with some aid.  I filled my water and headed back on the Lyons Falls loop.  This is one of the coolest sections of the course.  it includes a hand over fist root climb and some technical trail running.  After climbing up little Lyons falls I kept pushing on.  Then when I got to the stairs at Big Lyons Falls the second place group of three came up behind me.  I was shocked, did I make another wrong turn?!  They were messing with me telling me that I missed a few more miles.  This really made me depressed, but I felt better when they came clean and told me that they messed up at the confusing intersection I mentioned earlier.  They had added a few more miles onto their day.  I followed them back to the covered bridge.  After leaving covered bridge T-P took a couple pics of me crossing the Mohican River.  This was really cold and about thigh deep.  It took a little longer for my feet to thaw out after this crossing!

Balance is the key!
I followed the three or four mile section along the Mohican River to the mountain bike trail.  We had to pass up the North Rim Trail and add in the mountain bike trail to make up for some of the miles that we missed due to the trail closures.  On the way up to the mountain bike trail I tripped and ended up doing a somersault and landing right back on my feet!  I could not do that again if I tried!  So I followed all the switch backs of the mountain bike trail back to the campground area and decided to follow some of the campground trails to add the extra 1.25 miles that Mac and I missed.  When I got back to the parking lot and my Garmin officially read 31.1 miles and I was satisfied.  I was also happy to see that I set a PR of 7 hours and 4 minutes on the Forget the PR course!  I think all the training I have been doing for the Burning River 100 at the end of July has really paid off.  After the race we all met at Trails End Pizza for beer and pizza, which is the perfect combination after running 31.1 miles through the trails of the Mohican State Forest.  My next event is at the inaugural Playing Possum 50K in Delaware state Park.  I am excited to run this new event because it is put on by my friend Mark Carroll and all the proceeds go to the Special Olympics, looking forward to it! 

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