sunday was my third escarpment trail run in the last six years (previously, 2006 and 2009). if i could, i'd line up for this one ever summer - it's probably my favorite trail run! even so, it seems to get the best of me because i haven't managed to break five hours yet. my 5:23 for 2011 was 20+ minutes faster than the 2009 mudfest, but still 3 minutes shy of my first run in 2006. i'm now half-way to my 100 mile shirt :D
as with most events, a newly scheduled run briefly tempted me to change plans - the twilight 6 hour pajamas run in queens the night before. i normally go out of my way to run b.u.s. events, but since i missed escarpment last year because i had to drive katie up to summer camp that weekend, i had no intention of passing it up to run an ultra the previous night! emmy opted for the pj run - and was in no condition to tackle the "wall of manitou" the next morning!
still, i met up with emmy in bedford and we drove up to windham together. instead of running, she hiked part of the trail. there were plenty of familiar faces at the start: todd, barbara, hiroshi, christine, hiro, yuki, johnny, and marge - to mention just a few. the trail conditions and weather were great! with no rain the night before (ala' 2009), the ground was relatively dry. and, as a bonus, the heat and humidity were manageable.
dick vincent got us underway just after 9 with a blast of the horn. my time goal was a sub-5:30 finish. while i wanted to shoot for a sub-5, my legs weren't recovered from vermont 2-weeks earlier. as it turned out, i had a great first half - pretty much a sub-5 hour pace. but as i suspected going in, fatigue would eventually catch up with me on the second half of the course. i reached the peak of windham, after a 3.3 mile climb, in a solid 54 minutes (13 minutes ahead of my 2009 pace).
the descent off windham was equally productive. i reach the 6 mile aid station (manned by volunteers from the wolfpit running club) in just over 1:32 - and was averaging just over a 15 minute pace for the first third of the course. just before i reached the third aid station, at the base of blackhead, todd caught up to me. we ran in together in just under 2:09. i said hi to lisa glick, volunteering there, and then todd and i set off to climb blackhead.
it took me just under 28 minutes to reach the top, todd was already there - and headed out as i stopped to refill my water bottle and grab some chips. johnny and i headed off blackhead together, but he quickly flew down the steep descent. my trip down to dutchers notch wouldn't go as smoothly. just as the first wave of drops began, i got a calf cramp (shades of 2009)! a girl running just behind me saw me nursing my calf and offered me an s cap! it worked some magic, and i was back on the move again!
it took me just under 45 minutes to reach the next add station - at the base of stoppel point. and the climb up to stoppel took just over 47 minutes! i reached the top of stoppel at 4:09 - and smiled when the volunteers announced the next aid station was just 1.7 miles away! those were a grueling, technical 1.7 miles - that opened up to the initial field of boulders, where the "final" aid station was located on a huge boulder, with a fantastic view of the lake at the finish. i put "final" in quotes because that was the last aid station - 2.5 mile to the finish.
but dick added one more, about a mile from the finish - new for the 2011 edition. as i climbed down from the aid station i met up with lisa. we ran the last 2.5 miles together, encountering a handful of people along the way who gave us varying distances left to go! we saw emmy about 1.5 miles from the finish and then john holt less than a quarter mile past her.
in hindsight, i probably could have pushed the pace a little and broken 5:20 - but i was more than pleased with the 5:23 finish. i'll definitely be back for the 2012 edition!
in an aside, on the drive home from the 2009 edition, we were stuck on the taconic when it was shut down because of the tragic car crash that killed 8 people. i couldn't help but note the documentary, "there something wrong with aunt diane" had just been shown on hbo to coincide with the 2 year anniversary of that horrendous incident!
here are my race photos.