Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Race Report - 2010 Bartram Forest 100 Mile

The Bartram Forest 100 Mile, my 6th race of 100+ miles in 2010, turned out to be one of the most enjoyable weekends of the year, not just because it was a success from a race perspective, but primarily due to the four absolutely amazing people that I had the pleasure of spending the entire weekend with.  From the moment we all arrived in Atlanta to the moment we landed back in New York, me, Eric, Emmy, Marge and Lynne were virtually inseparable - smiling, laughing, suffering, and sharing our various accomplishments together.  We also got to see some great friends, including Ethel, Jen, Lane, and the super-trio of Meredith, Eddie and baby Zoe (boy has she grown from when I last saw her at Badwater!).

The course was supposed to be a 5.25 mile loop with runners completing 19 of them (plus a .25 mile loop at the start of the race).  Ten minutes before the start of the race it was announced that the loop was lengthened such that we only had to complete 18 total.  As Lynne would say, "this is a perfect 100-miler to use as practice for your first 100-mile race."  Huh?


I did not have much of a goal for this race, except perhaps to make sure I survived it without injury with Running the Caminho Da Fé a mere 30-something days away.  The weather played somewhat of a factor, starting out on the chilly side, moving to a pleasant and beautiful 60 degree day, and ending with driving, wind-blown rain and temperatures in the 20s.  Yet, I did get what is likely my only opportunity to experience a race from the front of the pack.

18 Loops Of This !!
When the race began I immediately noticed that I had settled into a pace with the two leaders.  At one point I was actually in the lead before Dave Carver and I would spend several miles together chatting in 2nd and 3rd place.  Dave's plan was to try to run an 8-hour first 50 miles, and then see where his legs would take him.  8 hours being way too ambitious for me, I let Dave go and told him that my goal was to catch up with Eric and enjoy the rest of the race with him.  By the time I caught Eric, he was with Lynne and I was in 2nd place overall.  At the end of each loop I would check with the time keepers to see how far Dave was ahead of me.  I didn't have much of a desire to try to catch him.  He was moving way too fast for me.  But, I seemed to be keeping him within the 30-minute range.  At some point I was passed by another runner, dropping me into 3rd place.  I hit the 50-mile mark in 8:38.

I would spend 70 miles with Eric, someone who has become a very close friend over the course of the last year or so.  We certainly did struggle at times, and when that crazy, freezing cold rain came in the later stages of the race, we absolutely shared misery.  At some point when we entered the start/finish area I was told I had moved into 2nd place...Dave had dropped due to knee issues.  And, I was only 15 minutes behind the leader (who I remembered had blown by me when he passed).  Jen was kind enough to bring a bunch of friends down to crew and pace, and that's how Eric and I were lucky enough to get Jason and Chuck as pacers.  Boy did we have a blast, but boy did Eric and I deteriorate.  With 3 loops to go I learned that I was only 12 minutes behind the leader.  I had no energy left and had slowed considerably.  Chuck and I talked about going ahead and making a push.  We decided to see where we were after the next loop.  With 2 loops to go the eventual winner had added another 26 minutes to his lead.  On top of that, I had developed a weird sort of injury (we will keep it that between me, Eric, Jason and Chuck) that had prevented me from running for long stretches.  Easy decision - stick with Eric and finish up.

And, that is just what I did.  2 loops later I finished in 21:55:04.  I'm told I finished 2nd overall, but I haven't seen any results yet.  I found Lynne and we waited for Eric to speed through his final loop and complete his 3rd 100-mile finish of the year.  An amazing finish for a guy who had seemed to be ready to fall over as he weaved from one side of the trail to the other.  Marge, who I had crossed paths with a few times during the race, would finish shortly after Eric, securing an awesome sub-24 hour finish.  Emmy, suffering from illness, put in a great effort in the 100k race.  

I learned a ton from this weekend.  First and foremost, I have incredible ultra-running friends.  I cannot thank Jen enough for hooking us up with Jason and Chuck, and thank those two guys even more for helping us get through the late stages of the race.  I also learned that I have a lot of work to do with my pacing.  Although it felt like an easy effort, I'm not sure that laying down an 8:38 first 50-miles in a 100-mile race is good for me (yet), especially considering my best 50-mile time is in the 8:40s.  I need to get used to not having a crew/pacer.  It is so different without Rick there to keep me in check throughout the entire event.  I absolutely missed his guidance out there.  But mostly, I discovered that when you assemble a group of individuals that simply click, you end up with an experience that is unforgettable, and I would not hesitate to accept an invitation to share another adventure with Eric, Emmy, Lynne and Marge.  They are simply amazing.

Emmy, Marge, Eric, Me and Lynne
How Exhausted Do these Guys Look ??
With the race behind us and a flight home the same day, it was time to get to the post race celebration.  Drinks and food at the airport were followed by one of the best flights home in memory, putting an end to the last race-weekend of 2010.  Next up...a 350+ mile pilgrimage - Running the Caminho Da Fé.

5 comments:

  1. Aww, you missed Rick...spoiled you are! :) JK! Great times, Tony, and 6th 100 for the year was my plan that you simply and quietly exsecuted!

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  2. Nice work Tony! Six 100+ races in the year is quite impressive. And, way to finish off the year with a 2nd place overall. Good luck in your next adventure... it sounds intense.

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  3. Nice job Tony! 6 100's is impressive. Good luck next month. I wish I was with you guys.

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  4. Congrats on the second place finish! That's awesome!

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