Sunday, August 10, 2008

Race Report : Turkey Swamp 50k - PR Cancelled Due to Lightning

Today's Turkey Swamp 50k Race in Freehold, New Jersey acted as the final long run before the Grand Tetons 100 Mile Race. As always, Wayne was kind enough to drive. We met up with Meredith, Eddie, Tom T. and Susan prior to the start. As you can see, the course is, well, a monotonous 2.6 mile loop, with runners in the 50k doing 12 total (the last one being a short loop), very similar to the Caumsett Park 50k. The beginning of each loop is on dirt roads, but quickly turns off into single track trails with some rooty sections. After a short grassy section, it is back onto single track trails until you emerge back on the dirt road at the start/finish area.

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Although we all started together, after one loop I ended up running with Susan, and boy was that a task. I met Susan for the first time at the Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50k, where she put in a fantastic 6:43:43 performance. I entered today's race with a goal of putting in about 6 hours for a final long run. After a loop with Susan, my goal quickly changed to possibly setting a new PR at the 50k distance (4:58 at Caumsett in 2007 is my current 50k PR). We pushed a steady pace for much of the first 6 loops, with Susan leading most of the way. At times we seemed to push each other, especially in the short section where the trail opens to a grassy field for about a half a mile or so. I would pull even, she would pull ahead. We finished the first half of the race in about 2:16:00.

Loops 7 and 8 were just as steady as the first 6, although the roots started to jump out at us a bit. When we finished the 8th loop (4 to go), we talked about slowing things down. No dice. We began to play a little cat and mouse. Susan would lead the way for most of the loop until the grassy field. At that point I would push the pace and move a good 5-10 yards ahead, hoping to to buy us a few extra seconds at the start/finish aid station. At the end of our 9th loop (3 to go), Susan was surprised to learn that we only had 3 more loops to go, all along thinking that we were actually on loop 8. Our plan at that point was to finish up loops 10 and 11, then bust out loop 12 as fast as our feet could carry us.

As we were finishing up loop 10, a guy was walking down the trail at us and said that we were to go straight through the finish line (instead of making the right turn on the road) as the RDs had cancelled the race due to lightning. There had been several lightning deaths in the last few weeks across the New York/New Jersey area, including 2 in the Freehold area last week, so it was understandable that the race was called. As we finished up loop 10 (about 26 miles) in 3:43, we couldn't help but think about what could have been. I am certain that we would have continued on pace through loop 11, and busted out loop 12. If we kept the pace that we held steady for the first 10 loops over the next two, we'd have crossed the finish line in about 4 hours 39 minutes.

This was actually a pretty good event. They also had a 10 mile, 25k and 20 mile race as well, the only downside being that they started all 4 events at the same time (8:30 AM), which meant that the single-track trails were a bit clogged until the field spread out. It would have been much better to stagger the starts. The course was fairly easy (just a few sections with some tricky roots) - a good race for someone doing their first 50k.

Goodbye long runs...hello taper.


  1. booooooooo. i was well on the way to a PR, as were all of us i think! It was the right choice given the circumstances and the deaths in the town last week, but sure it did suck! But now we get to taperrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! :) :) :)

    Good job speedy. Remember you laughed at me when i asked if you were gonna run a 4 hour 50K? you were pretty darn close Mr. I am gonna run 6 hours :) You two did well.

    The race was great and i would definitely go back.

  2. Good Job Bro...hope you got all that speedy stuff out of ya -- lol

    Congrats & Taper time!!!!!

  3. That's a super time. Congratulations.

  4. Congrats on the accomplishment. Sorry it got cut short ... but certainly the safe decision ... a "problem" we didn't incur on the self-sustained CMRR yesterday (despite experiencing the same weather). No one manning the route = no one around to cancel it for us. :) Enjoy your taper. BTW ... in "ultra" world, what does taper mean? Only running 40 miles this week?

  5. Wow, The Flash has nothing on you! Great job, man, way to run! Have fun on the taper!

  6. Yeah for the taper. I Love me some taper time.

    That is so funny that you guys chatted about the Aggressor. He's a total D.Bag and doesn't read the blog, so it's all good.

  7. Sweet job homie!!

    Bring on the taper!

  8. Anthony ---sorry about the cancellation when you drove all the to NJ and were all running so well -boo hoo:((((( -I was going to warn you that the trails can get clogged. Glad that Wayne drove, and that you were able to hook up with meri, eddie and susan.
    well, you ran well and now it's taper time!

  9. What a FUN run...the time flew by, and I felt like a kid playing in the woods! It was a blast working together--thanks esp for picking it up during the last stretch of each loop--that was so great. In retrospect, I think we should have turned in our numbers, and just done the last 5 miles on the roads around the park. But anyway, thanks for the incredibly enjoyable run, and have a great time tapering the hell out of the next couple of weeks!

  10. awesome job anthony!

    a drag it was cut short. but doesn't take away a bit from the excellent race you ran for 26 miles!

    does taper = miller time (or some such variation)?

  11. Wow, I thought you guys were going to do it too. Well, at least you're still alive. That time would be awesome for a road rmarathon, let alone a trail one :-)

  12. Man you were crusin. Sucks it was halted. Coulda been a contenda!