i'm a bit late in getting this race report together. bimbler's buff, in guilford, ct, wasn't on my race schedule until 4 days before the start! i'm happy there were some last minute cancellations and the race director let me in (and emmy a few days earlier). even though i was seriously under trained for the 50k (and the road 10k i ran the day before), i looked forward to the challenge.
both races were basically training runs (and my first races in over 3 weeks). since the trail mix-up 6 hour run in queens at the end of september, my running mileage had dropped off significantly. leading up to the 50k i had barely logged 60+ miles for the month (i missed a entire week of running alone, just because of the flu). that said, i needed the mileage; perfect training for the jfk 50 miler, but iffy with the nyc marathon in two weeks.
a brief look at the race course information, i thought it had a lot in common with the long island greenbelt 50k (right down to the various road crossings). however, out on the course, i soon realized the highly technical terrain had much more in common with the escarpment trail run and the nipmuck trail marathon! it wasn't an event for newbie's to the trails. i started out with a roughly 6 hour time goal - which, upon arrival at the bluff - i revised to 7 hours!
another race that i was reminded of was the jfk 50 miler: there was a steep descent that seemed to mirror the drop off at the weverton cliffs on the appalachian trail (sans the switchbacks). and the steep climb up to the bluff echoed the climb out of gathland gap (but steeper)! regardless of the comparisons, bimbler's bluff 50k was a tough course - and tricky to navigate with the multiple trail changeovers (including the different blazes).
the race director did a great job of marking the trail. at the pre-race briefing he mentioned that they had over 1,500(!) markers out on the course! i will say that the candy-striped ribbons and orange flags were lifesaver!! still, they didn't stop me from going off-course twice!! my boy scout training abandoned me before i even reached the first aid station (and then, again, before i reached the half-way point)!
before we set out on the trail, the course included a loop of the school field. it was cold at the start - i wore two shirts (a long-sleeve tech shirt over a short-sleeve tech), gloves, and a buff around my neck. the gloves came off after a couple of miles, but i never warmed up enough to take off one of the shirts. i carried a 22 ounce hand-held (and had a 6 ounce water bottle in my fanny pack - filled w/gatorade - b/c of the distance between aid stations).
in addition to fluids, i carried 3 powergels in the fanny pack. i prefer gu, but had none at home. around 18 miles i used a strawberry-bananas gel (for the 1x caffeine) and again, around 28 miles had a second one - also for the caffeine. at aid stations i drank coke and mountain dew after 10 miles. except for some boiled potatoes, chips, and two pb & j quarters, i didn't have much in the way of solid food. that said, the only negative of the entire day was the huge distance between some aid stations.
at one point, between miles 22 and 30, there was an 8 mile stretch without aid. i carefully rationed my water (and back-up gatorade) to get through, but other runners - i learned afterwards - weren't so lucky. the race director warned about this aidless gap (and an earlier 7 mile gap) - but that didn't help matters. what would have worked better was a pair of unmanned stations that just had a few gallons of water. it was tough bridging that distance in cold weather - it would have been brutal in warmer temperatures.
it was at the 22 mile aid station where i discovered the course was "long" - aka "horton" miles. i thought it strange that the volunteers said 8 miles to the next aid station. why have one a mile before the finish i thought out loud as i headed back on the trail. another runner pointed out that there were 3 miles to go after that one (2.8 actually) - for a total distance of almost 33 miles! i reached the last aid station by 6:40 and covered 31 miles in just under 7 hours. i crossed the finish in 7:16:18
my only bad moment on the course was on the downhill heading into the 22 mile aid station. i remember feeling happy that two-thirds was done and i could take it easy for the remaining 9 miles - and suddenly found myself inches from a face plant. my handheld broke the fall and i got a few scratches on my left hand. it was instant payback for not staying focused on the trail! aside from that small bruise to my ego, the entire day was fantastic!
here are my race photos.