April 21, 2007
The morning was cool and a little windy, and the forecast was predicting the weather to be clear and warming up to 76 degrees. I was preparing myself to run the crowders 50k, which is roughly 31 miles. 26 runners walked up to the start, a line drawn in the gravel trail by race director Ray Krolowitz. The race started at 8:41am and we began running uphill on the gravel road, or the tower trail, up to the summit of crowders mountain. After reaching the summit, approximately a mile and half of pure uphill running/speed hiking, you start to descend a set of never ending wood block stairs, over 300 of them. The backside trail made out of gravel becomes very steep here and you find yourself running very fast downhill. After a quarter mile or so you hang a sharp left onto the crowders trail. We had an aid station here equipped with grapes, bananas, water, ice, and gu. The crowders trail is fairly rocky and technical and stretched all the way to a road which you cross and continue until you get to the main ranger station parking lot. This is the turn around point for each loop, and thus far about 5 miles of trail. We reached the summit of Crowders Mountain 6 times during this race, which is approx 6,000 feet of evlevation gain.
After my first loop I realized that the day was already getting hot for me as my shirt and shorts were already drenched in sweat. I decided to considerably slow my second loop so that I would be able to finish my third loop just as fast as the second. Pacing yourself on these longer runs is crucial, and I still struggle implementing this concept into my running.
I finished this run in 15th place which was 6:50:56. 4 runners DNF, and 2 DNS. That’s 37 min faster than the Mt. Mitchell Challenge which is 40 miles up the highest peak on the east coast. I believe with the heat the crowders 50k is more difficult than the Mt. Mitchell Challenge. The thermometer in my car read 82 degrees.
I saw some familiar faces on the trail and met some new ultra runners. The race was very well set up and the volunteers did a great job with helping out the runners, many thanks to all of them!
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