trailstasher

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Pilot Mountain Payback half marathon trail race March 28 2015

Some friends and myself raced this last week for the first time.
This race is run at Pilot Mountain, which is around 2 hours south of Roanoke. It is near Mount Airy, NC and just off I-77.
Pilot mountain has a very unique looking mountain top. The mountain itself makes the race very appealing.

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This is the website of the group that runs it: http://ultimateracemanagement.com, but the registration this year was on this website: http://www.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=273.
The race has 2 options. The full is 24 miles. The “heavy half” is 15 miles.

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The organization of the race was pretty poor in general. The website and the registration site had 2 different starting times listed. One said an 8am start time, the other said a 9am start time. The race director is horrible about answering emails or phone calls. I had registered for this race last year, but it was moved to a different date, due to snow. They had said that I could transfer my registration to either the rescheduled race or the race this year. I chose to move it to this year. I kept emailing and calling the race director to verify that I was in and to put my name on the list, but he was not replying. I worded the title of the next email in a way that demanded an answer. He finally answered.
The exact address of where the race started was not posted until 1 or 2 days before the race. Before that the address very vaguely.
The mileage was not listed on the website. It just said marathon and heavy half.
We got to the race on race day and we were not on the participant list. The so called race director was not there, but the people were very nice and put us in the race.

Now that I have told you the bad parts, the rest of it was great. I liked the course. It was well marked. Most of the aid stations were not manned. Most were just a cooler with cups for self service. I was ok with this. There were a couple manned aid stations with food. The volunteers were doing a great job.

The race started at Horne Creek Farm, which is near Pilot Mountain State Park in Pinnacle, NC. With that being said, I think the beginning and ending may change some, based on the weather and what the state park has going on. The race is an out and back. The course goes around 8 miles on rolling small hilly trail, then up the mountain, to the top, then back on the same trail. The first and last mile or so was road. The bridle trail was the the next 6 miles, after the road. It was similar to Chestnut Ridge Trail or Four Gorge at Carvins Cove, except it was a “tamer” version of those. Not as much climbing, the trail was smoother, and it was a much wider trail. I thought it was a great trail. It was easier to pass people, if you need to.

There are a few creek crossings and at least one of them was fairly wide and deep.

The half marathon goes 7.5 miles on the bridle trail. You turn around at a gravel parking lot and go back the way you came. The marathoners head on toward Pilot Mountain.

I could see Pilot Mountain from the half marathon trail.  It was beautiful.  It made me wish I had done the full.

My legs were so tired from doing a 50K the Saturday before this.  I was zapped at mile 8 or so.  I trudged to the finish.

I would do this race again, but I would definitely do the full.

Friends that also raced this were as follows:  Rebecca and Jonathan Adcock, Karen Dillon, Sara Martin, Robert Drinkwater and HT Page.

This was Sara’s first marathon!  I was excited for her.  She ended up winning it!  She passed 2 men near the end.  Phenomenal.  Robert wasn’t far behind her and ended up fourth.  Great job to them.

HT was second overall in the half.  Karen did great in the half as well.  The Adcocks took their time on the full and enjoyed it.

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Terrapin Mountain 50K March 21 2015

 

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Terrapin Mountain 50K is the second trail ultra of 4 that have to be completed for the Lynchburg Ultra Series.  It is billed as a tough race with lots of climbing and it was definitely that.  I had set my goal at under 8 hours, due to the fact that it took me 6.5 hours to do Holiday Lake…and I figured it would take me at least an hour more with all the climbing on this race.  It also was a mile or so longer.

I went by the Aid Station store 2 days before the race and picked up my packet.  They give out mugs for the race.  I have always wanted one, so I was excited to get it.  I was not disappointed!  It is a great looking mug.  Love it!

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We left Roanoke that morning at 4:45, so that we could make the hour drive and get there well before 6:30.  We had to check in before 6:30.  Terrapin also offers a half marathon.  Eddie Mann (did the half marathon) and Caleb Johnson rode to the race with me.  Other friends there were as follows: Gina Gilbert (there for support, as she is injured), Josh Gilbert, David Landes, Dru Sexton, James Decker, Matt Prescott, John Robinson, and Jeff Jennings (half).

Huge shout out to Gina Gilbert.  She was there before 6:30 also.  She waited over 7.5 hours for all of our friends to cross the finish line and she got pictures of everyone crossing.

The race started at 7.  The weather was supposed to be nice, so I only had 2 shirt layers on and shorts.  The beginning is road and gravel, but it was pretty scenic.  There was a rocky creek and several rustic log cabins on farms.

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The following picture is of Terrapin Mountain.  It is pretty intimidating to see that at the beginning of a 31.5 mile race, knowing that you will have to go over it!

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We soon hit single track that was a pretty steep climb for roughly 3 miles.  The first aid station was at the top, which was mile 4.  From there we were on another gravel road, going down hill for around 5 miles.  Those 5 miles were the only easy part of the race.  The rest of the race was very hard.

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It seemed like it was climbing ALL DAY LONG..I got to a part in which the lead runners were running opposite me, as they had already done a loop to the top.  They were running pretty fast downhill, while I was running slow up hill!. It took forever, but I finally made my way around the loop and by the summit. I finally got to run down that fireroad!  At the end of that fire road was an aid station that I had went through earlier.  This was mile 22.

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See mile 22 on the elevation profile below?  The last sharp top on the right…that was it.  Toughest section of the race.

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Once I went past the aid station, the course was single track again.  Now it was a grueling, very steep climb.  I was extremely slow on that part.  I got to the top and there were some nice views up there.

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There were 3 parts of the race that you had to do an out and back or loop, so when you got to a certain point, you had to punch your bib.  The top was one of the punch points.  From there we went on towards “fat mans squeeze”.  Fat mans squeeze is something I had always heard about and was excited to see. All of the following pictures are different views of the same rock formation.

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I got through the squeeze and soon came up on a short but rough section of rocks.  It was football size rocks on top of rocks   It was really hard to walk safely over them.  The rest of the way was nice single track trail.

Waterfall within the last 1o miles

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Water crossing within last few miles.  It felt great on tired feet!

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There no big climbs, but my endurance was low.  I walked the uphills and jogged the downhills.  I finally came out on the road, then on to the finish   I saw that I could make under 7:30 and did.  I crossed at 7:28.  I was the last of my friends to finish, but they are all really good runners.  I just wanted to finish, which I did.

We got a nice Patagonia finishers shirt!

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Garmin readout:

https://connect.garmin.com/activity/728975808

 

 


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Montvale 10 mile trail race March 14 2015

This is arguably my favorite race…..just something about it…the winding trails that you get to see other racers so much, the length, the atmosphere, the “regulars” are usually there, the park, the wide open finish, the creek and log bridge, and it’s usually a heated finish

PRE Race information:

This is my history on this race:  I have always done the 10 miler.

2014 1:27:58

2013 1:29:40

2012 1:40:18 Third place in Age Group (first ever race longer than a 10K)

http://www.mountainjunkies.net/Montvale.htm

I am registered for the 10 miler again, but am actually considering the 5 miler.  I am considering the 5 miler, as it will help me get more points for the RNUTS series.  It looks like I could place first overall age group, considering who is registered so far.  I am doing a tough ultra 7 days later, so that is a factor as well.

POST race information:

I stuck with the 10 miler..

Everyone kept saying it was going to be muddy, but I really did not think much of it.  We have had “muddy” races before and that usually means some water logged grassy areas near the beginning and end or one small part of the race.  Most of the MJ race trails hold up well in the water.  Well, I really missed on that thought process.  This race was very muddy.  This race was VERY slick.  This was by far the slickest race I have done, by far.  I was truly lucky to have stayed upright.  We do 2 loops of 5sh miles on this race.  We could tell on the first loop that the second loop was going to be a doozy.  I felt great the whole race.  I probably started too fast, but I never really got that tired.  I did slow down the last few miles, but that was mainly due to the mud.  The slick mud was just not very runnable at all.  Most of was on an incline…it was pretty dangerous.  I ran with Brian Walters for around 5 miles.  He is 55sh I guess, so he is 2 age groups above me.  Brian is a very strong runner.  He was right behind me for those first few miles.  I kept waiting for him to pass me.  He finally did around mile 6 and finished a couple a minutes ahead of me.

I had scouted out my competition in my age group before the race.  I knew that Tim Miller would beat me by a lot.  There was another guy named Tim Coleman that could beat me, based on his time 2 or 3 years ago.  I was hoping for third plus had to beat Mack McGee.  Mack is a runner that I know I am better than, but he did get me at the end of the last race, EYL.

I started off ahead of Mack and stayed a good distance ahead of him the whole way.  I never saw Tim Miller and I don’t know Tim Coleman.

I got within sight of the finish and started getting a cramp in my right calf…what??  I am very good for this distance and more.  I don’t know why I started cramping.  With everyone watching (more or less), I stopped and stretched the calf for a second, then ran on in.  Weird!

I finished a hair over 1 hour and 30 minutes.  I was 2 minutes slower than my best time from last year, but the mud was a huge factor.  I could have easily beat my best time this year, under good conditions.

I checked the finish list and was surprised to see a 1 beside my name!  I was FIRST in my age group!  Tim Miller had placed in masters and I had beat Tim Coleman by a good bit.

I am happy with this race and my performance in adverse conditions.

On to Terrapin Mountain 50K next week!

Garmin readout for the race: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/720666855

The RNUTS standings were updated soon after.  I am in second place in age group right now.  I beat the leader the first race, Frozen Toe.   He beat me the second race, Explore Your Limits, which I think I am a better runner and just had a relatively bad race.  He placed first in the 5 miler for this race, Montvale.  I could have beat him in the 5 miler.  The pressure is on to beat him in the Mill Mountain Mayhem race.

 

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