Monday, May 19, 2008

Soapstone Mtn. Trail Race

A great day for trail running in New England

Yesterday I ran the Soapstone Mountain 14.5 mile trail race. It was an incredible day for a run through the woods: Clear blue skies, nothing but sun and temps in the mid 50’s! The race started off down a slightly descending dirt road. Having run this race last year, I was ready for the fast pace at the start. Sure enough, things started quickly and it felt like a sprint. Soon the course kicked into the woods onto some single track. The pace was still quick but settled down as the terrain got technical and the elevation rolled. A little over 2 miles into the race things got lofty as the course headed right up Soapstone Mountain. It was a momentum halting 300+ feet straight up. Getting to the top required almost scrambling on all fours. Once up and over, it was a blazing shot down the other side. The loose rocks and steep decent took some serious focus to not crash and burn. After making it through that unscathed, I settled into a groove as the course twisted and turned through the Shenipsit State Forest. About half way through the race, I noticed the trail was not really a trail. The pack I was in was following pink ribbons that were a marker of the course, but there was no more path beneath our feet. The ground was thick leaves, branches, and ground scrub. Wtf? But in our pack was the co-race director, so surely we couldn’t be lost. Then the co-race director commented “I didn’t know they changed the course this year.” Uh-oh. The course wasn’t changed; we somehow took a wrong turn! After a 5 to 10 minute confused detour, we noticed runners up ahead on the trail that we were supposed to be on. We were now behind where we had diverted off. Not only did we trudge through some extra distance but we had looped backward on the course, so we had more distance to make up. No one was too upset, since we looked at it as getting in some extra distance on a beautiful day. Can’t complain about that!! At this point I started to drop from the pack as they seemed to pick up the pace to make up for lost time. The next few miles contained some semi stream beds and pretty technical footing. At one point a guy in front of me was zig zagging across the trail trying to find any dry area possible. This looked like way to much effort so I just blazed down the middle of the muddy stream. I think I scared him as I tsunamied by him. It was fun to stomp through the water and mud. I started to catch another dude up ahead and used him to help push harder. All of the sudden I noticed how he was going up a hill to the left. I wondered how the direction I was running was going to lead me to where he was. Then I noticed a sharp left turn up ahead. Cool, that must switch back up the hill. When I made the turn, the trail quickly turned again away from where the other dude was. Wtf! Then I heard some more runners off in the distance heading where the other guy was. Damn, I had missed a turn! So I had to double back and hook back up with the course. Man, this was a day for extra distance. I increased the effort to try and catch up. Eventually I closed on the guys in front of me and jockeyed positions with them a few times. On the final significant hill (which contributed to the 2,300 feet of total elevation gain for the course) I ran out of steam and dropped back a bit. Once over the final hill I pushed hard to the end and finished as strong as I could for a time of 2:17:19.

Approaching the finish

It was an excellent race and a nice start to the trail running season. I accomplished my goal for the day: Get a quality workout without gettting injured! In two weeks it’s the Nipmuck Trail Marathon and then the VT 100 in July!

10 comments:

Lauren said...

Whoa, that sounds more like a maze than a race. It sounds like you're not afraid to get your feet wet, har har. Xoxoxo.

Bob Gentile said...

Sounds like a pretty crazy fun trail, not bad to get lost for a bit on that day but ummm please don't add any extra miles for VT ok...then u won't be so happy-lol

Good Job!!

Marcy said...

Dude, that shiz would scare me. Being lost in the woods is one of my worst nightmares LOL AWESOME job homie!!

AnthonyP said...

Sounds like a great trail race ! Well done.

Nitmos said...

Trail races are very cool though I've only done a few. They are tough on the ankles, at least, for me. Look forward to reading about your trail marathon and ultra expereinces to come. Good luck!

Ultra Steve said...

Scott,

Great report. Just make sure you don't make any wrong turns in Vermont.

Cheers!

Carilyn said...

And that is why I wanted a pacer :) Although if you were running with one of the RDs, I guess a pacer isn't going to be much help! I'm with Marcy, I have a recurring nightmare of getting lost in the woods, second only to the one about being back in school. It's so fun to read blogs where the person isn't afraid. I'm going to try to channel some of your courage!

Great report - looks and sounds beautiful!

AnthonyP said...

Thanks for sharing that e-mail today. Are you still considering doing the North Face Hartford course on 6/21 ? I think that's when you were thinking of doing it.

cmorse said...

Scott,

Mind if I steal your soapstone registration photo for the slideshow over on the striders website?

Clint...

Scott said...

Absolutely, Clint. Go ahead.