I wasn't going to write a race report for Grindstone 100 but I reconsidered. I feel that I can distill down the run and the feelings into a few main chunks.
The plan from the start was to run most/all of it with Philip Vondra, and we had a very loose plan to shoot for 24 hours, or at least to beat sunset on Saturday. Neither of those goals were met but here's the gist of what happened.
We started at 6pm on Friday night and enjoyed a few hours of warm, foggy, misty running. Around 10 pm it started to rain harder but our pace was still good enough to keep us warm. We ran with a bunch of friends; Eric, Chang, Guillermo, and Jün. The running was easy and comfortable through 35 miles when we started the climb out of North River Gap. It was around 4am as we topped out on a high ridge that was exposed to more direct rain and wind. When we got to the 46 miles aid station we got cold! On went jackets and hoods as we continued up to Reddish Knob and down the never ending pavement to the turnaround at mile 52.
Our spirits were high as we climbed back up into daylight and onto the now extremely muddy and slippery ridge. We tried to avoid the long puddles and newly formed mini lakes on our way back to north river gap at mile 66.
Arriving there I had a near complete wardrobe change and dealt with some chaffing issues. There had been a snafu with my truck that Tara was freaking out about but a bunch of helpful people had taken care of it just in time for me to get my gear.
A few miles earlier I had noticed a little bit of pain in my left knee that had disappeared but as Phil and I ran down from mile 75 to the mile 80 aid station it came back. This prevented me from any significant running for the rest of the race and coincided nicely with me feeling complete exhaustion. Phil had become very quiet and I started complaining. We were really feeling the toll of 21 hours and 80 miles of running and hiking in near continuous rainfall. We were tired and waterlogged.
Leaving the mile 80 aid, we were greeted by the never ending climb. We went up for hours, seriously, hours. I never thought it would end. I was feeling pretty zombie like and that would continue as we made the last big climb and then the steep, gravel road descent to mile 96 aid. We could finally taste the finish but at our now walking pace, it would still take us 1:40 to go the final 5 miles.
At just before 10 pm, we returned back to the place we left 27 hours and 55 minutes earlier. Phil and I crossed the line together, hugged the totem pole, and collected our buckles. Relief.
I was pretty sure during the race that I would never run again, but time heals all wounds fortunately. While I could walk the next day due to knee pain, I did have a pain free, easy run today, just 3 days later. Overall it was a good experience on a miserable weather day. Thanks to Phil for being a great, super strong partner. Thanks to MPF RNR Team for your support and encouragement. Thanks to all of the volunteers that ran the aid stations and kept us fed with warm soup! And a special thanks to my wife Tara. She toughed out the rain and came to every crew accessible aid station, carrying my gear up and down hills so that Phil and I could be fully stocked throughout the race. I couldn't have done it without you! And thank you Laura for keeping Tara company and helping with our gear too!
I wore Hoka One One Speedgoats on my feet, an Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket and Hardrocker Vest on my back. I ate everything in front of me. Congrats to everyone else that ran grindstone!
The Cat’s Tail is a rugged mountain marathon. It will begin at the Fox Hollow trail head off rte 28 in Shandaken, NY. Runners will go south over Panther Mountain and Giant Ledge before reaching rte 47. They will run just off the road south for a short distance to the Slide Mountain trail where they will turn east and ascend Slide, Cornell, and Wittenberg Mountains. Slide is the highest peak in the Catskills at 4,180 ft. On the northward descent off Wittenberg, runners will turn east onto a newly created trail leading them over Cross Mt. before heading northward over Mt. Pleasant and Romer Mt. and depositing them a short distance from Phoenicia and the finish line. The distance is around 26.5 miles with 7000+/- ft of ascent. http://mountainpeakfitness.com/catstail