Photos, Videos & Thoughts from Joe Azze on The 2013 Escarpment Trail Run!


"The Escarpment Trail is a very remote, rugged hiking trail in the Northern Catskill Mountains in New York State. This single track trail crosses no roads, has total elevation changes of nearly 10,000 feet, and requires all aid to be backpacked in by volunteers. This is not for your average runner but for the runner who trains 12 months a year, and has spent years building a base and gaining long distance experience. Therefore, qualifying standards are required to insure that all participants have experience with endurance events and have a reasonable chance of completing the course within 6 hours."

A race within a race... Elizabeth, Sam and I were running a little behind schedule so we had our own little race to this section of the course. We parked at Big Hollow Road; the start of the Manitou's Revenge Ultra and ran up to about mid point of Blackhead Mountain. At this time the rain was coming down pretty good and the fog was intense, perfect weather for the Escarpment Run! The runners were also not far behind as we heard cheering coming from down below as we unpacked the camera gear.

The photo below is one of the first couple I took of Denis Mikhaylove, 1st place finisher at this years race (2:51:05). Click here to read his race report. He was hand over foot most of the way, using everything to scramble up Blackhead Mountain as fast as he could. I remember talking to Denis after his win at the Manitou's Revenge 50 Mile Ultra a couple of months back and he said that he would not be back on these trails anytime soon... Check him out in the 2nd video I posted below. 

The upcoming video is of 11x winner and course recored holder (2:45:20) Ben Nephew, climbing Blackhead Mountain. Ben placed 2nd at this years race in a time of 2:58:17.

At the time it was raining pretty good and I had the GoPro in its water case housing which is very poor for audio so at the last minute I decided to quickly change it out to the regular housing as Denis (1st place), Ben (2nd place) & Jamie (3rd place) were making their way up. I was still fumbling with it when Denis came into sight but as you will see in the 2nd video below I was just able to capture him on the move. I also didn't have to use music for the video thanks to the decent audio. I much rather have the sound of the rocks falling, each step the runner takes, the wind, rain, breathing (you will hear mine in the video for sure), etc. Sometimes the sound can be poor or I tend to talk to the runners and it comes out a bit distorted so I dub over it with music, that some like and others not so much... If you see me videoing and I don't respond but stand there stone cold its only so I can capture the sound with out my voice, my apologies. 

While videoing Ben, I was debating whether or not to continue following him up the mountain because I didn't want to distract him but I just kept a distance and tried to be as quiet as possible (not falling). I was able to take a few photos of Ben while we were on the move with a Sony NEX-6 & 18-200mm lens; I carried it like a football. This is a  light and small DSLR like camera, its also a good performer in low light situations such as what the entire race took place in. The video was captured using a GoPro Hero 3 head camera. This is also a great camera that shoots very stable video while running. The only downfall to this camera is the battery life is very short and it can be a pain to quickly change out. 

Video links - Vimeo / Facebook / YouTube

The photo below was taken while I was running with Ben to the top of Blackhead Mtn. I stopped quickly and snapped off a few shots and then I would chase back up to him. I gave it a vintage look since this race is over 30 years old and one of the oldest of its kind. Also Ben has been a big part of this race for some time now. For more photos like this visit our Facebook Gallery.

Here is some additional footage from the race. This video captures some of the front runners as they make their way up and over Blackhead Mountain. It also includes a little footage of the finish. I hope to capture a more of the race next year and maybe a lot of it with the GoPro as I possibly join the race to North Lake.... 

Video links - Vimeo / Facebook / YouTube

Photo was taken from just beyond the top of Blackhead Mountain. From time to time, you may see clear sky in the background but not during this race. 

Here is Lenny Huffman from the MPF Campmor Trail Running Team. This was his 1st year competing in the Escarpment Run and it was on his 40th Birthday! Happy Birthday Lenny! And YES, he will be back again to run the Escarpment!