15th biennial pioneer memorial 100 mile trek
memorial day weekend, may 23-25, 2009
queens, new york
day one: kissena park
day two: alley pond park
day three: crocheron park
it's hard to believe that 2 years have flown by since the 14th biennial pioneer memorial 100 mile trek was held in 2007. this memorial day weekend, with a slight modifications, we ran the 15th edition of the trek. the major difference was a reversal of the order in which we ran the different parks. in 2007 we began with crocheron park and finished with kissena park. also, in 2007, a separate 50k race was held in conjunction with each stage of the trek. this year only one 50k race (which itself was a switch from a planned 6 hour run) was held in conjunction with the first day of the trek.
those were minor changes. the biggest difference was the absence of running legend ted corbitt. in 2007 he started off each day of the trek with backgrounds of the ultrarunners that particular stage honored. then he spent the remainder of each day supporting the runners out on the course. his presence was missed this weekend. this edition of the trek was run in ted's honor. in an incredibly gracious act, ted's son, gary, gave richie some of ted corbitt's more than 700 medals, which he in turn hand picked to distribute as individual finishers awards.
day one: kissena park
in 2007 the trek ended at kissena park. this time around the first 33.333 miles of the trek would be run at kissena park. after a long first loop, the course consisted of 23 laps of the park. each lap of the park included two significant hills. since the "queens 50k" race was held in conjunction with this stage, the field of runners was decidedly larger than it would be for the succeeding two days of the event. i drove down to kissena park with emmy and rob. this was a repeat for rob, who ran the first day of the trek in 2007 (and would run the 50k this year). it would be emmy's first (and my second) multi-day event.
richie's pre-race instructions included a reminder to keep our bibs safe after the race. we would reuse them for each day. since i was the only one who forgot his bib (and needed a replacement) in 2007 - i thought that announcement was especially for my benefit! it wasn't, richie assured me - phew (and i didn't have any problem keeping tabs on it this time around)! both the trek and 50k race began together, although different start lines were used to adjust for the individual race distances. in addition to rob, chris, byron, al, and barbara were running the 50k.
after an initial long loop of 15:44, i ran the next 10 laps (1.42 mile loop) in just over 11 minutes each. the most memorable part of this portion was the small army of neighborhood denizens practicing tai chi on field at the top of the second hill! the second noteworthy item was the powerful wind gusts that blew dust and plant particles through the air in huge clouds. i coughed a lot during the first 10 loops.
things quieted down significantly when the wind slackened off and the tai chi practitioners called it a day. my next 9 loops slowed down from average 11 minutes each to just under 14 minutes. by loop 20 my time had slowed to 15 minutes - and i ran the 21st and 22nd loops with emmy at just over 16 minutes each. in a final burst of energy i knocked off the 23rd and last loop of the day in 12:17 - to finish in 4:54:06, an average pace of 8:50 per mile. that was good enough for second place, behind phil, for stage one!
day two: alley pond park
this day began with serious fog covering the city as emmy and i drove in to alley pond park. i kicked off my morning with a second day of dunking a peanut butter sandwich in my morning coffee for some pre-race nourishment. aside from feeling a little tired, i had no aches or pains to speak of - everything was in good working order for day two of the trek. the only noticeable difference in layout from 2007, the staging area had been move further down the park road (very conveniently located adjacent to the field house).
the alley pond course required 33 loops of 1.01 mile loop of the park. it also had two significant hills, the first short and steep at the start, the second long and gradual on the other side of the park. a park sign called the loop (or at least the portion that climbed the first hill), the "alley pond adventure trail" - a sign i didn't notice until that stage had been completed! the idea of an additional 10 loops (albeit on a shorter course) from the 23 we ran the day before at kissena park was somewhat discouraging.
nutrition-wise, aside from the pb sandwiches i dunked in my coffee each morning, i stuck with just fruit (watermelon, honeydew, and the occasional piece of cantaloupe) during each stage. i also grabbed a few of giant-size gum drops and jelly beans every now and then. but today, thanks to emmy, i added some s caps half-way through the course for a sodium/potassium boost. the s caps really helped, and i'd use them again the next day as well. for fluids i stuck with water (and occasionally, soda). i also took a container of iced tea with me everyday, which i'd rehydrate with at the end of the stage.
i broke the task of 33 laps into thirds to make it managable. i ran the first third (11 loops) in a sub-9 minute pace. it took 1:35:29 to run the roughly 11 miles. the second third, loops 12-22, went by in a 10 minute pace. i reached roughly 22 miles in 3:27:14. the final third started off with my pace slowing down to an 11 minutes a loop, only to see the final 5 loops speed up to 10 minute miles. i finished day two in 5:24:10, a 9:45 pace, again in second place, behind phil. my two day total of 10:18:16 worked out to an average pace of 9:17 for the 66.66 miles.
day three: crocheron park
the third and final day was graced with perfect running weather! unfortunately for me, i was hardly in condition to enjoy it. during the late stage of day two i felt my feet starting to swell a bit and i was worried about blistering. luckily, i avoided any blisters, but the swollen feet carried over to day three. i probably should have switched my larger trail shoes for the extra breathing room because my regular new balance were tight - and i'd pay the price for that stubbornness by mile 20!
today's course was probably the most demoralizing because we had to run 34 loops of the .97 mile park road (after an initial long loop). luckily, however, there was only one significant hill on this loop (and we had to climb that hill to reach the staging area to have our laps counted)! in a major break from the previous two days, i decided to wear my ipod on the course. before the start, richie handed out the 2 day score sheet. i had a solid 28 minute lead over my nearest competitor for second place.
my only objective was to run a conservative race and hold on to second place. even though i carried my ipod, i didn't start using it until 10 loops into the race. i had my ipod with me the first two days, but didn't use it. the first 10 loops (including the long first one) went by in 1:26:11 for roughly 10 miles. at this point i put the ipod on shuffle and focused on getting in the next 10 loops. while the first 10 went by at an 8 minute pace, the second 10 loops slowed down to a 9 minute pace.
i reached 20 loops in 3:03:44 - which included a quick stop in the woods to relieve myself. the next few loops would prove the most difficult of the trek for me. over the last 5 or so loops blisters had finally formed on my toes and i loop 21 the one on my left pinky toe popped - and filled my shoe with that gnarly, not fun wetness. while annoying, it wasn't about to slow me down (although i did find myself favoring my right foot now). more annoying was the need for a bathroom stop - and during loop 23 i pulled into the field house to relieve myself. that loop took 12:08:11 - and was my slowest time around the park.
to make up a little of that lost time i ran the 24th loop in 9:29 - and then began my countdown to the finish! the next 6 loop averaged just over 10 minutes each, and i finished 30 loops in 4:46:01. with only 4 more loops to finish stage 3, and the trek itself, i picked up the pace. at this point i switch the ipod from shuffle to the b-52's "funplex!" the final 4 loops went by in 8:50, 9:05, 8:39, and 8:21 - for a finish of 5:21:06. despite the burst blister and two bathroom pit stops, i finished 3 minutes faster than the day before (with no bathroom stops or burst blisters).
it was my third day with a second place finish! cumulatively, over the 3 days of the trek, i ran 100 miles in 15 hours, 39 minutes, 22 seconds, for an average 9:24 pace. this was a dramatic improvement over my 2007 result (where i finished 3rd overall), when it took me 17 hours, 10 minutes, 52 seconds, for an average pace of 10:19 per mile, to run the 100 miles. phil took first place overall and alicja was the first woman finisher! emmy took third overall for the three days!
at the end of third day, richie brought in chinese food to close out the event (we had pizza on day two and sandwiches on day one). there was a bittersweet feeling at coming to the end of this edition of the trek. in the past it was held ever other year, but richie announced that it would probably be another 5 years before the 16th trek would be staged. the logistics and resources needed to stage a multi-day event, across multiple locations, can't be overstated.
even with that bit of sad news, the 15th edition closed on a high note as richie had on display numerous awards that ted corbitt had won during his illustrious lifetime. he also talked about ted's role with b.u.s., the local ultrarunning community, and his accomplishments. in addition to our awards for the trek, each finisher received one of ted corbitt's race medals. this was a highlight of my weekend. the medal i received was given to ted corbitt at the metropolitan aaa 20km championship race held in yonkers on may 5, 1957! he ran a 1:14:34 and took second place in that race!
27 runners lined up for the 15th edition of the trek, 24 finished. let's hope that when the 16th edition is scheduled (whether 2 or 5 years from now), twice that number line up!
photos from day one (kissena park) of the trek
photos from day two (alley pond park) of the trek
photos from day three (crocheron park) of the trek.
here are emmy's trek photos.