Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Havin' fun at the Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic 50km

Run results at Team PR
Run photos by Brian Musick

Whew, I survived the Browns game. What a game, and what a fun-filled weekend. I don't know exactly why, but I've had a hard time putting into words how this race went. Oh well, here goes...

I can't say enough good things about the trail crew, volunteers, and runners that participated in Saturday's Youngstown Ultra Trail - Classic 50km race (YUT-C.) Now in its second year, the hilly and rocky trails of scenic Mill Creek Park has proven itself as a venue worthy enough to host a challenging 50km ultramarathon. The best way to describe this run was that it was small event, with a hometown feel, through a beautiful park, and with gorgeous views of the lake. The aid and amenities were top notch. Its a run of the best kind--Hosted by ultrarunners for ultrarunners.

The 50km course was broken in to 3 loops of 11.6, 11.6, and 7.9 miles each. The first two loops were identical, but we switched directions after loop one. I liked this format so that we could see all the participants once or twice along the trail. The big loop was a figure-eight shape with the Covered Bridge aid station placed strategically in the middle of the figure-eight. The third and final loop turned back at the covered bridge, which we passed five times thoughout the course of the run. The terrain was a good mix of dirt, rocky trail, and a few paved roads. I estimate the ratio as 85% trails and 15% paved surface.

Starting in front of the log cabin:

The run started off with a small field of about 50 runners at the north end of the park with a short road section before entering the trail. I started off with the usual suspects: Dave Peterman, TJ Hawk, and Chris Meanor. Jim Harris was not far ahead. We ran as a loose group for most of the first loop before the field thinned out. I ran most of loop one with a fella from Memphis named Bill. Of course I had to mention my favorite dry-rub rib joint in the world, The Rendezvous. Bill concurred with my sentiment.

In loop two I leapfrogged with Jeff from Seattle. I enjoyed chatting with Jeff as I recalled my years in Washington state. I wasn't an ultra runner back in those days, but I can imagine now what I'd do if I lived near the Cascades or the Olympic Peninsula. I can dream, eh?

Finishing up Loop Two:

I'm no geologist, but Mill Creek Park sure does have its fair share of rocks. Like the Buckeye Trail and its trees and roots, the character of Mill Creek's trails are defined by its rocks. I'm not sure if the Teva trail shoes were the right choice because by the end of the run my feet felt tender. I missed the protection of my trusty Hardrocks.

I wish I had some photos of the trail itself. Two highlights are the "Love Log," and long boardwalk along the East Gorge Trail.

After the run, most everyone commented on the huge log that blocked an uphill trail during loops 1 and 3. On the first trip, crossing this log was not as much of a feat. But during loop 3 on dead legs it was different story. The only way to get over was to give the log a little love with a bear hug and to roll up and over. Hence the "Love Log" nickname.

The coolest moment for me that day, was along the boardwalk just north of the covered bridge on the East Gorge Trail. The East Gorge Trail is a long boardwalk with steps that runs along side sandstone outcroppings and with a view of Lanterman's Falls. As I headed along during loop 2, a squirrel hopped up on the rail and ran along side me for about 20 seconds or so. The experience amazed me. It was so unreal. I could have reached out and grabbed him. Mr. Squirrel left my side with a backflip off the rail and right onto a tree branch and up the tree. Yahoo, that's what I'm talkin' about!

East Gorge Trail with Lanterman's Falls in the background. One of serveral falls along the course:

I was happy with my run on this day. I started with smart pacing and I seemed to get stronger as the day went on. I finished in 5:18 with loops of 1:56, 2:01, and 1:21. Loop 2 included an 8-minute pit stop for restroom and to fix one blister. The fact that I was running strong and felt good at the end bodes well for the 12-hour. I'm gaining confidence and I look forward to the next challenge. All-in-all, my day was a success.

And I finally got to meet fellow blogger E-speed who amazinging finished her first ultramarathon only one week after running the North Country Trail Marathon last weekend. Way to go, E! Kim was out there too and has posted some nice trail photos.

Special thanks to Bob Combs and his wife Molly for the countless hours devoted to this event. I applaud Bob and his crew for the tireless (and thankless) effort in chasing down permits, sponsors, and volunteers. To this end, we as runners enjoyed a tech shirt, Buckeye Beer (a finisher's award that one can put to use,) and great post-race chow with hot soup and pizza.

Post race in front of the log cabin: Jeff (from Seattle,) Lloyd, Dave, Brett, and Mike (on the fence)

Special thanks to Brian Musick of Team PR for the Photos.


Post a Comment

<< Home