Muddy Marathon, April 30, 2011
This race intrigued me the minute I heard about. It sounded like New Jersey's idea of a mini Barkley 100 mile Marathon Heck, only 3 people finished last year. You had to complete four 6 mile loops. Each loop had a two hour time limit. Over 90% of the course would be off trail going through brush, mud, small ponds, streams, rock beds, concrete swimming pool fills with putrid water, and three steep climbs. Now doesn't that sounds fun? Exactly something I was looking for to open my race season.
Rick McNulty race director of the NJ trail series sent us off at 7:00AM. 35 runners attempted this years marathon distance race. My friend Julian and I had decided we would take the first lap conservatively in hope we would finish the lap with some time to rest before venturing out on Lap #2. After all, we had 2 hours to finish the lap and our immediate goal was to just finish this race. Rick promised a lot of mud and that is what we had the first mile of the course. The mud was firm but it was looking to suck us down and even tried to steal some of the runner's shoes. One foot would go down 2 ft but the next would drop down 4 feet. This would throw you off balance. After 1.5 miles we started our first climb. Lots of rock to scramble over and then straight up. Like I said there were 3 climbs and each one was more difficult than the previous one.
Finally after 2.5 miles we started our descent down to the only aid station on the course and really the only trail-like running. I grabbed some PowerBlast and some water at the AS and then headed right into a 30 foot pond. After 1.5 miles of a not to steep of a climb we came up on a beautiful bluff looking down into the valley, you could see the buildings from where the race began. There were about 5 minutes of running on a thin trail along the edge of a bluff and then down we went back into the valley of mud. Before I knew it I came to hill of mulch, grass clipping and sticks. After climbing over this there was a short run to the start/finish line. First lap took 1:35.
Julian got there 5 minutes before me and was already cleaning himself up and restocking for the next lap. We stayed there for 15 minutes then headed out for Lap 2 which took about 1:40. We rested for 10 minutes then headed out for Lap 3.
This lap I decided to pick it up. I became separated from Julian after the 3rd climb. I had to make a decision whether I would rest after this lap or just continue on. My biggest concern was my shoes were packed with mud and gravel and this made them feel three sizes to small. I had tried the first lap to get them off and failed. These shoelaces were in LOCKDOWN MODE! One option would have been to get scissors and cut the shoelaces and put on a new pair of socks and shoes or I could just say the hell with it and go for it. Well, the competitor in me took over and I went for it.
I caught 3 runners in the first mile. I decided to make my move on the first climb and try to put more distance with each climb. The planned worked. My last lap was my fastest and I finishing in 7:05 for 2nd place overall. This was one of the tougher things I have done, a close 2nd to Western States 100 mile endurance run back in 09. I have lots of cuts and scrapes on my legs but no poison ivy. Resting all week for The North Face 50 Miler that takes place this upcoming weekend May 7th.
Thanks to Rick and Jennifer and all the other volunteers that made this race possible. Thanks Elizabeth for coming out so early to cheer us on and getting some video to document such a crazy race. Thank you for reading my race report.