Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Highway 105" Trail Run

I DNF'd at the Stone Cat 50 miler on Nov. 2nd. This was my "Redemption Run". This was a run that I selfishly needed to do for myself. 

With help from Anthony, we started devising "a plan" that started way back in December 2012, just after Christmas. The goal was to connect Jimmy's Roundtop, the Bluff Trail, and the trail network out around Kearney Lake/Evil Birch/Whopper Drop. All it really took to connect everything was a bit of a crappy 500m bushwhack that we checked out in June, and finding an easier access point into the single track around Ash Lake. Check and check. Now I just needed the stars to align for the right time.
The Route
Note: we did the RED section on the Birch Cove/Whopper Loop.
My training had been going very well for the Stone Cat 50 miler, but I lost the majority of my drive and motivation after the Cuddly Coyote. The sudden passing of Josh Grady at the Cuddly Coyote really affected me and my running took a back seat.

Three weeks after the CC, we had an awesome group of runners and supporters that headed down to Stone Cat...14 runners and 5 crew members. It was a great trip overall and I was okay with pulling the plug at 47k to watch the others finish their first, 2nd, 3rd+ 50 miler. Everyone did awesome!!

So...November 16th looked like the perfect day to do this run "Highway 105" run. Take note, I didn't say 'try'. I HAD to finish this run...for me, for my helpers throughout the whole run, for my running buddies who joined me along the way, and for Josh. I figured he'd like this sorta thing too. No frills. Minimal fanfare. Awesome people. Miles of trails.

Leg 1. 42k. Midnight start. 
Runners: Al, Anthony, Chad, and Rene. Cheerleaders: Karine (as always), Keener Colin, and Tania! Thank you all so much!!!!

We started off at the crack of midnight from Seabright. It was a quiet night and almost a full moon. The water of the bay and the lakes were like glass. It was really nice. I like midnight starts. Most normal people are home and in bed. I like doing things that aren't so 'normal'. 

Everything was going smoothly. At the 15k 'aid station', we were 5 minutes ahead of schedule and Karine and Colin arrived just in the nick of time to catch us on Ballfield Road before our 27k stretch of more remote trail sections. 

You'll see in the photo that I had a chart with ETA's for my crew and for the runners that would meet me later in the day. I like to stick to these times as close as possible...mostly for fun, but also for the challenge, AND to not be late for those who are graciously waiting for me.
The ETA Sheet.
Note: my goal was to be finished by 4pm. Anything less was a bonus.
Chad was not having a good run and started to suffer big time with hip pain. He DID finish the Stone Cat 50 miler 2 weeks earlier though, so he had a good excuse. Anthony and I were the only ones that had ever been through these trails before, so we had decided that we'd all stick together until we hit the Bluff Trail, 8k away. 

The bushwhack to the Bluff Trail was not fun for anyone, but especially not for Chad. Regardless, we finally hit the trail, 42 minutes behind schedule (we entered the Bluff Trail at pretty much the half way point of the perimeter, on the 4th loop).

I wasn't concerned about the time loss. After some discussion, Al and Anthony pulled themselves out of the run and kept Chad company on the way out the trail. I was very thankful, but felt horrible for leaving them behind.

Rene and I took off into the foggy, dark early morning hours. The time would've been 4:32am when we left the other 3. Damn it was foggy though. I actually used my GPS a few times to make sure we weren't 'cutting through' a loop versus staying on the perimeter of the loops. We made it out to the parking lot to be greeted by Karine and Colin again, Lori, Nancy, and Jack. We made up about 15 minutes in that foggy and technical bit, so I was happy.
Time of day: 6:05am -- 24 minutes behind schedule

Leg 2. 34k, but with some shorter options.
Runners: Lori, Nancy, Rob, Jack, and Elaine. Cheerleaders at various points: Karine, Colin, Andrew Woods, Jack, and Darlene. 
Thank you all so much!!!!

Lori, Nancy, and I took off on a 4.5k stretch of rail trail. At the end of this stretch we picked up Rob Teale for his longest run ever!! Way to go! Arrival time at Clearwater Drive - 6:40am. 

From here we went in to the soupy and cold power line trail for 3.5k, then on to a rugged piece of trail on the west side of Ash Lake, and finally made our way out to Colin's Road in Kearney Lake Estates. Here we met up with Karine again (thank you!!) and Andrew Woods...who delivered chicken noodle soup and Oreo's (he did admit to stealing this from his daughter's lunch box--wish I had a pic of me eating with Katie's little spoon and matching soup thermos). 

At this point we were only 6 minutes behind schedule (7:50am when we left here)...but what I thought would be the toughest section was up next. Evil Birch to Burger King. I had only been through here twice before, plus a recon mission with Anton earlier that week to check out, and mark, a few intersections. All went well and we ended up at BK 4 minutes AHEAD of schedule! Woohoo! Time of day: 9:46am.

Jack joined us here at BK and Lori jumped in the car with Karine (she was everywhere possible on the route-THANKS!) since she was recovering from Giardia and wasn't feeling so dandy. 

We rocked through this next section and came out to the Bluff Trail parking lot about 30 minutes AHEAD of schedule! I did have my first sugar low about 2k before arriving here, but some Coke and other goodies seemed to fix me up. For a bit.

Time of day: 10:55am -- 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

Leg 3. 29k.
Runners: Colin and Mitch. Cheerleaders: Karine, Lori, and Mays. 
Thank you all so much!!!!

Uggg....back into the Bluff Trail. This is a slow run any day, but today was gonna be slower than most. I had a few more sugar lows through here and Mitch bailed me out with his Jelly Belly Sport Beans and some dried blueberries that were "lightly sweetened"...and they tasted like beer!? Figured it was my taste buds, but Mitch did later confirm that they taste odd. I sure was craving some Root Beer or Orange flavored Jelly Belly's though ;)

It took 2h20m to reach our "exit" point on the Bluff Trail. That means that I lost 25 minutes, but was still 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Into the bushwhack...which was much easier in the daylight, but still crappy.

From here it was just a battle to keep myself running. I had no muscle pain, I was just tired. My watch had died at 85k (13h02m), so I wasn't able to analyze the time like normal (maybe that was a good thing). 

The next time that I remember asking about the time was with 4.5k to go, at the Wooden's River Road/Wascally Wabbit 2013 intersection. If you did the WW, you'd remember your first climb. That soft and squishy ATV trail climb. Up that, down into the swamp, then up outta there and on to my final 1k of gravel road, followed by 2k of pavement (with a 50m piece of single track in there too)! 

I was still running pretty decently in this last 3k and was able to finish 39 minutes ahead of schedule (based on my 4pm goal time) in a time of 15h21m! (Note: Yes, this is a slow time for the distance, but the East Coast has some fine technical trails to keep things slow ;)

The pizza party got underway after getting cleaned up and 10 of us sat around shooting the breeze about the run, this, that, and whatever else. Great times and great memories with a great bunch of people! We are very fortunate to have you all as friends! This was the spirit of trail running at its best...yet again!

Thank you all for helping me out on this run...and beyond (Karine had to listen to all of my planning, route option gibberish, map scribbling, etc for almost a year) :)
This is what I do...a lot! All of the times/splits are from past runs.
They helped me nail down some reasonable time guesstimates.
NOTE: Not to Scale :)

I didn't get a whole whack of footage, but you'll get an idea of what some of the trails are like.

Salomon Bonatti Jacket (fresh from the UK--not available in N.A.) 
Salomon mid layer Hoodie
Salomon mid layer 1/2 zip
Salomon LS Trail Tee
Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12L pack

Salomon S-Lab 6 Soft Ground shoes (leg 3) 
Salomon Speedcross CS (leg 2)

Suunto Ambit 

Hoka Evo Stinson Trail (leg 1)

Icebreaker LS shirt
Sugoi tights 

CEP compression sleeves

Petzl NAO Headlamp
TEKO synthetic running socks (2 pairs)
Various gloves, mitts, toques, and Buffs


  1. Simply AWESOME Bud! - mark c.

  2. when watching the video...insert loud cowbell sound :) somehow the gopro didn't pick up it's loudness but our neighbours sure did :) thanks margo&john swain (neighbours) for being such great karine&jodi adventure supporters! xo

  3. So glad I was part of this. Keep inspiring the up and comers. - Anthony

  4. So inspiring!!! Awesome!! Keep up the good work!