Wednesday, June 22, 2011

mount greylock trail run: race report

sunday's trip to adams, ma, for the mount greylock half marathon was certainly worth the long drive (3+ hours) - if only for the scenic views. it was my first time climbing mt. greylock, which runners summit in the first 3 miles of the the course! i drove up with emmy and rob, and we met up with yuki and hiro - who had also been at the norwalk summer series 3 miler the day before. hiro pulled a hamstring in norwalk, so he opted to sit out mt. greylock. both hiro and yuki (and rob too) were veterans of mt. greylock

my only inkling of what was in store was the 2,500+ foot elevation gain packed into the first 3 miles. in this respect, greylock was very similar to the escarpment trail run - which also starts off with a 3+ mile climb to summit windham peak. on the course, after cresting the summit, i soon came to realize how much more they had in common - especially the rocky, technical trails - and the intense downhills! it's no exaggeration to call mt. greylock an escarpment "light" - primarily because the course has 5 fewer miles.

emmy and i hadn't pre-registered, but rob had. we arrived at 9:45 - and parked what seemed like a half mile from registration. there was a relatively long line for race day registration - and the race began a little late. in the pre-race crush of business, emmy and i managed to switch bibs (i signed us up and had the two bibs - mistakenly giving her my bib, and vice versa). it would lead to an interesting result switch at the end of the day! aside from that, my only pre-race issue glitch was that i forgot the body glide in the car. luckily, chafing wasn't an issue this time around.

the first 3 miles were, literally, a hike. the race could accurately be described as a hike to the summit of mt. greylock, followed by a 10+ mile trail run. it took me just under 55 minutes to reach the summit - and, after a few photos, left the summit just after 57 minutes. it's no exaggeration to say that 95% of that time was spent power hiking up and increasing grade! for the remainder of the race, the opposite held true (95% running, 5% walking).

it came as something of a shock to discover the steep - and rocky - descent just off the summit. for at least 1-2 miles the trail was - putting it mildly - a jagged single track of exposed rocks and roots. then it settled down to just technical running! i reached the 6.1 mile aid station - and was startled to be informed that we had "only" covered 6.1 miles! the next aid station, we were informed, was 2 miles away, followed by a 4 mile stretch before the final - unmanned station.

i reached 8.1 miles in just under 2 hours - which averaged out to a 15 minute per mile pace! i had covered the 5 miles from the summit in just under an hour. if i could run the next 5+ miles in another hour, i'd finish in under 3 hours - which was pretty much my goal time. the final miles were not as grueling as the first 8, so i managed a decent 52 minutes for the final stretch. my 2:52:23 was well under my 3:00 hour target - which, in hindsight, may have been soft.

at the finish i met up w/hiro and yuki (who had run a 2:46). i had some hot dogs at the post-race bbq. and the good folks from g.a.c. had a cooler filled with a half dozen growlers of berkshire brewing beer! it was so incredibly great of them to spot me a few glasses worth :D emmy wasn't too far behind (3:18) - but the real surprise was seeing our times reversed on the results board! at first i thought it was the beer - then i realized we had mistakenly switched bibs! that as first!

all in all, the mt. greylock half was a fantastic event all around (there was also a 5k trail race). climbing the highest peak in massachusetts was a first for me - and i especially enjoyed the few minutes i took at the summit taking in the views. separately, i had no idea how technically challenging the trail would be on the descent. but it was a bonus because it was great training for the escarpment trail run next month!


Bryn said...

Thanks for writing about the event. I'm looking to do the race next month. Is there a time limit for the half marathon? I imagine I will be making a brisk hike up the mountain.

Metis said...

Thanks for the review. I had looked at the elevation gains and thought it must be an insane race. Any places with any big drop offs? Don't like heights.