Elizabeth's 2009 The North Face 50 Mile Race Report!

On your marks get set go... our alarm went off at 2:50 a.m. I rose to my feet and started preparing myself while Joe loaded the truck, here we go, my season is about to start and guess what, its pouring rain outside exactly like last year! The moment I noticed the rain my mind was flooded with the painful thoughts of last years epic race where I experienced a severe blow to my head leaving me with a concussion and 46 miles left to run. At the time I did not know I had a concussion or else I would have stopped maybe, LOL...Rain, Dense fog, deer darting across our path with driver and passenger who are half asleep, welcome to our seven lakes Drive experience, in our minds the race has already started. If we make it without Joe driving off the road like last year we will be just fine. Yes we made it 4:30 exactly! This gives me just enough time to get my number, race chip, and a visit to the bathroom, while Joe gets everything organized for the arduous task of crew/paparazzi.

I went into The North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge in Bear Mtn, NY like I do every race I enter, with the intent of making it to the finish line. However, this one even more so since I planned to run/walk the Massunuttan Mountain 100 Mile Endurance run just seven days later. My training has not been up to the level I would have liked. My mother was diagnosed with non cell, stage 4 lung cancer a few months ago, so I was happy just to be lining up for the both of us!

5:00 a.m... the gun goes off and 150 runners head into the darkness! Headlamps light the way up the slippery rocky trail, I tried to jockey for positioning early in fear I may stumble upon another runners fancy footwork. I feel my pace may be a little too quick but I chose to stick with it. I was feeling great but I guess everyone was, seeing how it was only mile 2 out of 50. I was sandwiched between two other women who I did not recognized so I decided to strike up conversation which is pretty normal in the ultra world since you end up spending hours if not days in the woods together, it seems natural to do so. One women by the name of Anna responded and we chatted for a bit. She was very nice but little did I know, 40 miles later we would be battling for a top spot.

The rain continued with the temps staying mild. Certain parts of the trail became very swamp like, the mud thickened as we scrambled up rock walls and leaped down climbs like monkeys in the jungle. Our steps ended in thick fog making certain sections of the course easy to lose track of and several times I found myself shouting out to runners who would get off track here and there. During this race each step had to be carefully negotiated this was definitely a race for runners who enjoy technical trail running like myself.

There were two very important cut offs we had to make on the course or else we would be pulled from the race. One was at mile 20.7 and the next at mile 34. As we were approaching mile 20.7, I began to realize that I may be behind on my hydration protocol especially when I realized I had not peed in a while and my bottle was empty approaching the next aid station. My decision to go with a single water bottle between stations may have been a mistake. During these events timing of your hydration, sport gel and electrolyte replacements becomes crucial. You may be able to get away with it during a marathon but when you decide to go the extra mile your nutrition regime will make or break your day.

It was a good thing we were coming into the 20.7 mile aid station where I would switch to my awesome 2 liter hydration pack by Nathan. I also grabbed my iPod shuffle, which always offers a bit of motivation and I was on my way. At this point I still had no idea what place I was in and I didn't care. Other than feeling a little bloated from not drinking enough water, I was feeling good. I bounced across the street to the entrance to the trail where Joe told me I was in 3rd. As he was saying this, Anna, who I met earlier, was approaching and looking strong, with a bright smile. I thought to myself how it would be nice to take 3rd place, make a little money and stand on the podium... Since I wasn't really pushing myself, I decided to continue to race wisely without leaving myself overextended and unable to function after the race, I let her take the lead. As she pulled away I told myself just to keep her in my sights during the next 6 miles to the next aid station and thats what I did.

Tom, a fellow runner and I ran together who was quite entertaining and with whom I ran the previous 10 miles with. We shared a common friend Mark who will be crew/pacing for Tom during the Western States 100 Mile Endurance run this year. Good luck Guys!

I slowly closed the gap between Anna and I, passing her on a climb as we approached the next aid station. I wandered around for Joe for a minute who was at the next aid station and while I was filling my hydration pack she went flying by me. Ohhh know I have to get out of here ... Anna, she's putting a serious gap between us. I ran at a comfortable pace with the intention of reeling her in. The race went on like this for the next 15 miles.. Approaching mile 40, I thought that I had a substantial lead until I was fueling up again and there she went jogging by, crap!! I told myself this is the last time I'm going to chase her down. I caught her, passed her and turned on some of my reserves to secure my position and I never looked back. Wow!!! Anna thanks for a great race!

I slowly closed the gap between Anna and I, passing her on a climb as we approached the next aid station. I wandered around for Joe for a minute who was at the next aid station and while I was filling my hydration pack she went flying by me. Ohhh know I have to get out of here ... Anna, she's putting a serious gap between us. I ran at a comfortable pace with the intention of reeling her in. The race went on like this for the next 15 miles.. Approaching mile 40, I thought that I had a substantial lead until I was fueling up again and there she went jogging by, crap!! I told myself this is the last time I'm going to chase her down. I caught her, passed her and turned on some of my reserves to secure my position and I never looked back. Wow!!! Anna thanks for a great race!

Congrats to MPF Athlete Allison Newell on her 7th place finish during her very first 50k!! Awesome Job!! Congrats also to our fellow ultra running friends Randy Miller and Dave Steiker for having awesome races. Of course none of this could have been done so smoothly without my Joe, thank you so much for your support and the wonderful pictures and video you are my hero!! The next day we went back to Harriman for Joe's 70 mile road race, what a weekend.

Recommended Links

Elizabeth's Athlete Page
Everything TNF Endurance Challenge (race reports, videos, photos)