2019 Manitou’s Revenge "No Need to Rush"

I can’t say I wasn’t a little bit relieved when Andy Vermilyea was not able to make it to Manitou’s Revenge this year. While we had a great time chatting about trail racing and life for about half the race, the second half was a duel to the death of my legs trying to chase him over half a dozen mountains. The course is scary enough without having to worry about someone dropping the hammer with 4 hours left in an 11 hour race! 

As is typical, fear of the course elucidated a wary start this year, and Ian Golden, Andy Pearson and I soon pulled away from the rest of the field as everyone settled into their own pace. I relayed stories from past races and the days of yore like some old forest ranger. Andy tried to convince me that 100’s were cool, and 200’s were even better, but I was extremely unconvinced by his arguments. Ian tried to convince me that all the cool masters were doing track miles, and it would make me popular. I asked him how his legs were still attached after speed work as a master.

We stayed together until North South Lake 3 hours into the race, and then Andy started to pull away on the smooth descent down to Palenville. I gave him space, and Ian went after him. We were all back together by the time we headed over the monster climb up Kaaterskill High Peak. Andy was climbing well, and Ian was battling some chicken he had taken at the last aid station. Just say no to Salmonella! I stuck with Andy and was happy when the climbing pace settled a bit; we still had 6-7 hours of mountain running ahead of us.

A little support for my Coke habit…

A little support for my Coke habit…

There had been a good amount of rain prior to the race, but I was surprised at some early sections up on Kaaterskill. It wasn’t as wet as I had thought, and the recent rock work on the trail was truly impressive. Andy is a very good technical runner, and we made good time on the initial miles. Just as I was thinking we had lucked out with relatively dry trails, everything went underwater. We tried avoiding the puddles at first, but the puddles soon grew to ponds. The descent to Platte Cove never seemed to come, just like every year. We made good time once our shoes started to dry out, and reached the aid station about a minute apart. I waited for Andy to head over to the Devil’s Path. No need to rush, we had all day, and the mountains were not going anywhere. The cumulative beating from Manitou’s seemed to be wearing on Andy, and our pace slowed over the rugged terrain, which randomly ranged from almost dry to running up a stream depending on which side of what mountain we were on. It was quite odd.

I fell behind just before the gnarly drop from the summit of Sugarloaf, but soon caught up on the wet trail. At this point, I realized it might be time to push ahead. I decided to make a hard effort up Plateau and see what happened. After getting set with aid at Mink Hollow, Andy gave chase as I cautiously hammered up the sustained climb of 1k. It was hard to tell how much I was pulling away, and also if I was digging myself an early grave. It was starting to get warm, and I tried to keep my thermostat out of the red with water from the streams we crossed.

Andy and I heading towards the Devils Path

Andy and I heading towards the Devils Path

Compared to most years when I’ve already been running hard for far too long at this point, it was nice to feel somewhat decent at the top of Plateau and looking forward to running over and down to Silver Hollow. I was clearly making good time, as I put 9 minutes on Andy in an hour. Of course, I had no idea I had any more than a minute or two lead, so I could not afford to back off the pace. The next 80 minutes, and especially the climb up Tremper, seemed to never end, and I expected Andy to claw his way back at any moment. The reality was that I had extended my lead to 17 minutes. Although I did feel like I was moving at a similar to pace to some of my faster finishes at Manitou’s, I didn’t actually feel like I was running fast. The aid station at Willow was a carnival, and provided a great break from the stress of racing. I love me some hard racing, but it gets old after 10 hours. I also needed a boost before the downhill purgatory that is the Descent from Tremper. One could make a horror movie with nothing but GoPro footage of running down that mess. The hikers I passed clearly did not think I was doing something very healthy at all. I was fortunate that my feet and legs were still in good shape, which made the shattered rocks marginally more bearable.

However, the section of road to the finish felt as hard as ever, and I ducked around corners to make sure that I was not giving Andy a target for some late race heroics. Elizabeth the sandbagger tried to pull a Rosie Ruiz on me in the last quarter mile, but I had none of that and dropped it down to 6 minute pace, running backwards and taunting her. I ended up with my second win in 11:25, with Andy at 11:48. Congrats to all my MPF RNR teammates and trail friends on their runs, it was an impressive day with 105 finishers on the hardest 50 miler around. Thanks to Charlie, Mike, MPF for supporting a couple of aid stations, and all the volunteers, especially those who lug gallons of Coke deep into the dark depths of the Catskills. I’d be nothing without you, really.


While I don’t do the Strava all that much other than to document races and FKT’s, it was interesting to look at my Manitou datas. Apparently I am quite consistent on some stretches of this course:

Blackhead Descent to Dutchers

2014 = 28:57

2017 = 27:56

2018 = 28:54

2019 = 29:22

Mink Hollow to Silver Hollow

2014 = 1:07:56

2017 = 1:05:13

2018 = 1:04:00

2019 = 1:01:33

Silver Hollow to Tremper

2014 = 1:44:40

2017 = 1:43:46

2018 = 1:45:21

2019 = 1:45:05