Len Huffman's Race Report from the 2014 Escarpment Trail Run
The 2014 Escarpment Trail Run was held on July 27th. This was my second running of the race, which has been happening since 1977. Held in the Catskills Mountains, it's a grueling 18 mile trek up and over 3 peaks on trails littered with roots & rocks. I was excited to try to best last years’ time of 4 hours 20 minutes. My goal was 4 hours. I ran hills. I went to the course and ran the last 3rd of it. I thought I was ready for it. Well, thinking and doing are two different things. Once again Escarpment proved to be as difficult as it is billed.
I arrived at my hotel in Hunter the day before the race. Despite the forecast, it was a beautiful day. I hope the weather would stay the same for race day. When I awoke early Sunday, it was overcast but no rain. Maybe it would stay nice. To my dismay, the rain soon came but then stopped. I decided to skip the bus and drove with my family to the start. It was still cloudy but had not yet started raining again. Soon the skies opened up. It was a downpour. Thunder shook the skies. The tricky trails would be muddy and slippery. I was glad I chose to wear my Inov-8 Flyroc 310s. These are some of the original models that Inov-8 came out with and are still among the best. My fall count of 5 or 6 times would have easily doubled if not for their sure grip. For hydration I wore my Nathan Endurance Vest to give me both hands free.
As I waited for my wave to start (wave starts were new this year), I hoped I was ready. I was off in the 9:15 wave and onto muddy trails in the rain. The course immediately starts to go up. It was about a 3 mile climb to Windham Peak. The grades weren’t that steep. I settled into an even pace, walking when necessary. I soon reached the top & grabbed some water from the aid station before starting my descent. The trail was muddy and slick but I still tried to let loose and gain some time. The next few miles were up and down. I was anxiously waiting for Blackhead, the toughest of the climbs. I reached the aid station at the bottom and fueled up. I had been hungry all morning and tried to eat as much as I could stomach. Then I began my assent.
I thought I had prepared for this monster but it sucked the energy from me. I powered up best I could, taking about 40 minutes to do so. Going down was no easier. It was slick, there are drop offs and big rocks to scramble down. I took a few tumbles that I am feeling as I write this. Halfway down was Joe from MPF taking pictures and video. He followed me for a bit. I was working hard trying to stay upright and here he was doing the same but taking pictures at the same time; amazing! Blackhead took a lot out of me but knew I was halfway there so I powered on. There was only 1 good climb left. It wasn’t that bad compared to the others.
I soon came to Dutchers Notch which signaled the beginning of that last climb. I worked to maintain an even pace. Before long I was passing the wrecked airplane signaling the top. The final few miles were down but some of the most technical. I took a few more spills as I pushed the pace. I knew I would not make my 4 hour goal but was going to fight to the finish. I came to the final aid station, only 2.5 miles to go they said. I push hard for what seemed 1 to 1.5 miles and came to a sign for North/South Lake, finish still 1.7 miles; what? I hadn’t even gotten another mile in. Will it ever end I wondered. Again I dug deep to keep going. Another sign and still a mile left. Soon I saw the finish through the trees. My family was there cheering for me. I crossed the line in a time of 4:15. It was not the time I had hoped for but just finishing this race is a feat. I will give it a go again next year (hopefully without the rain).
Other posts you might be interested in:
Lenny’s 2013 Escarpment Race Report
Everything Escarpment including Videos, Pictures & Race Reports