Phil Germakian's 2012 The North Face 50k Race Report

In 2010, I ran The North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain 50K in a time of 5:34, which was good enough for fifth place that year.  Since then, I have battled a series of running related injuries that have kept me from ultrarunning for almost two years.  The 2012 Bear Mountain 50K was to be my return to ultrarunning, and my A-Race for the spring season.  I have been both mentally and physically preparing for this race for over 4 months, and looking forward to tackling this challenging course again.  Being from the area, this race is special to me, because I call these trails home.  I do most of my long training runs on the trails of Harriman State Park, which gives me a home field advantage type feeling at this race.

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My primary goal for this race was to simply finish without an injury.  However, my secondary goal was to best my time from 2010 with the hope of keeping a 10-minute mile pace.  In the end, my legs could not hold that pace for the entire race distance, but they sure gave it one hell of a try.  I started out too fast as usual, but felt strong.  At the first aid station (Anthony Wayne) at mile 4, I had a 9 minute mile pace average, which I knew was way too fast, but I could not help myself.  By the next aid station (Silvermine) at about mile 8, the terrain had slowed me down a little.  I was now holding a 9:30 average pace, and was beginning to have visions of grandeur, because I was still feeling good.  I actually thought to myself: “Wow, if I keep this pace, I may actually break 5 hours, and qualify for Escarpment!”  This wishful thinking would later catch up with me, but I was living in the moment at the time, so I decided not to slow down.  Before I knew it, I had made it to the Tiorati aid station, which is the halfway point around mile 15.  My pace had slowed a little, but I was still under my 10-minute mile pace goal, and feeling strong.  

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Up until this point my hydration and nutrition had been going smoothly, but it was here at the Tiorati aid station where I made my first mistake, that may have cost me my time goal.  Apparently, I was in such a hurry to keep on pace that I did not fill my handheld water bottle to the brim.   A few miles later, around mile 18, I would become aware of this huge mistake when I realized I was out of water with almost 3 miles to go until the next aid station.  At this time I had been running with a couple other guys, but once I noticed I was running out of water, I had to slow down, and soon found myself alone in the woods.  I felt my energy drain out of me as my pace slowed, and I hoped that once I got to the next aid station (Anthony Wayne Mile 21) that everything would be ok.  Unfortunately, even after hydrating well at the next aid station, my energy levels never quite picked back up.

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The last 10 miles were painful.  Not physically, but mentally.  I felt like I was crawling along.  I hiked almost every single uphill those last 10 miles, and even a few flats when I could no longer muster a shuffle.  However, I did make it to the finish line, only 4 minutes slower than in 2010, and achieved my primary goal for the race.  I am now happy to be an ultrarunner again.  In the end I finished the race in 5:38, which was good enough for 25th overall.               

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A special thanks to The North Face company for promoting this great sport and putting on a fantastic trail running series, and thank you to the MPF Campmor Trail Running Team for supporting my running.  

Phil Germakian