“Climbing around on such terrain makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop.”
– Ian Golden, the Race Director –
Expansive vistas overlooking the rugged Hudson Valley, beautiful singletrack, creek crossings, historic ruins, a cumulative elevation gain on par with SkyRun marathons, and a few of the steepest ascents and descents of any trail race in the country. The Breakneck Point Trail Runs will offer entrants a pretty epic day of adventure on beautiful trails surrounded and supported by a great community.
The Course (Breakneck Point Trail Marathon: Elevation gain ~10,000ft, Cutoff: 10 hr)
Both distances start together and overlap for 25k. The course configuration makes somewhat of a counter-clockwise figure 8 formation in Hudson Highlands State Park for the opening 25k, with an added counterclockwise lollipop loop in the Mount Beacon / Fishkill Ridge areas for the 42k.
Maps and turn by turn directions below. We encourage you to purchase the NY/NJ Trail Conference’s East Hudson Trail Map # 102. Jive that map w/ these directions and you’ll have a pretty good sense of the course and can use the map if you happen to get lost. Not to mention that it supports the organization that makes these trails and this event possible.
Distance : 42K (my Garmin said 28.84 miles)
Elevation : my Garmin said 9,140 ft Elevation Gain, who care what s the lost.
Finish : 7:49:24
Rank : #17 (overall)
Slipped and Fell
It was early, I drove through the sun rise along the ridge and woods with Chang and Regina to the Settlement Camp. The starting line was on a neat greeny field of grass, beyond that was rocks and leafless trees. It seemed more like fall than spring.
As I suspected, I would see some familiar faces from my previous mountain races in the infamous gnarly northeast area.
I came to this race blindly, I didn’t get a chance to read the course, the elevation map, nor knowing the elevation gain. I know it would be technical, especially on the Breakneck Ridge, but I thought it would be a good training for my upcoming Bear Mountain 50 miles.
Chang and I stood on the very back on the starting line, when suddenly the horde of runners started to move forward. Chang and I started to make our way on the shoulder of the trail, since the runners in front of us were starting to do power hike/walk on the uphill between the trees. Yeah the course was started with a lovely ascent already. I paid my price, first fall, I slipped on the logs.
I kept pushing forward till we got out from the single trail, into a bigger rocky trail, where I finally got out from the pack. I just wanted to get in front of the pack when I got into the Breakneck Ridge. I made a right at the fork and the trail went back into the woods. Still going up tho. Maybe a little down hill here and there.
When I got out from the woods and ran along the route 9D, I started to slow down and take a little break since I had been pushing too hard than I should be. Engine checked, all the injuries were not screaming yet. BOOM, I fell in front of the aid station 1. The most flat surface on the course, with no obstruction whatsoever.
Go Up Don’t Look Down
We continued the race back into the trail. One of the race volunteer was running down and warned us that some of the rock might be wet and slippery. I kept my power hike while munching bananas. Chang caught up and passed me at this point.
Here there was, the Breakneck Ridge, stood up tall and intimidating in front of us. Not many of you might not know that I have a height-phobia. But I do love climbing and technical hike. I just focused onto what was in front of me, and kept pushing forward. I tried to pass the runners in front of me, but it was pretty hard in this kind of situation without put myself or other in danger. I stopped a couple of times to took a pictures before I continued. On the way down of the hill, there was Ian running toward us and told us to follow the trail that went to the river. There was the AS 2.
Downhill Was My Downhill
After AS 2, the course turned into a bike trail, it was a twisting downhill. I slowed down my pace since I did not want to wake up the dragon (all my legs problems), a few runners passed me.
At the end of that road, I made a left turn to the trail and headed back to the hill. I started to catched up with the runners who had passed me earlier. I tried to keep my moving pace after any climb or power hike so I wouldn’t lost the momentum. Chang pointed that to me a few months ago in our training. It works. I was not running anything close to fast, but just kept my distance closer to the next sight I could see. Weaved through the air, passing the rocks and woods.
One of the best thing of this race was the trail marker. In every junctions/turns, Ian put an arrow marker with the font color of the trail blazer that we would follow. Genius! Wished he put them higher over the sight line, instead of on the ground, so it would not be trampled by runners’ hoofs.
Around mile 10, when I started to bombard the downhill, where I should not, my inner ankle just flared up big time to my calf. I cursed my dumb decision, but it was fun though. Now, I had to push harder on the uphill, and took it easy on the downhill.
After we hit the aid station 3, a few miles away from the start and finish aid station for the 1st loop, the downhill was pretty gnarly. I was slowing down tremendously. Screaming and cursing on every left step. A few runners bombed out the downhill like a jet planes. I think it was Len and Brad. Envy! Also in this section I met the front runners started to do their 2nd loop. Josh, Kristina, Michael Chu, Chang, and Steve. Man, I was really out of shape.
Are We There Yet
When I hit the start/finish line, I refueled myself as best as I could. Mike Siudy came to me to check on me. He had finished the 25K and won 3rd place I think. He told me the second loop would be flat. It did make me laugh.
I went back out to do the next 13 miles or so. Just before the junction for the second loop, I met with some other runners who was finishing their 25k or 1st loop. I met Melissa Woods and Deanna. Small talk, I had not seen them in the real world for ages. Seeing other runners who sent me an encouragement words or cheers, gave me a second wind, and started to run on the those lovely hill.
Soon I caught up again with Brad. For a little while we were in the catch up each other game. I made my time on the uphill and he blasted on the downhill.
After an endless of uphill and climbing, peaks after peaks, I started to wonder where was the aid station. A combination of pain and sun rays over me, made time went by so slow, mile bending into longer than a mile, and a sip became a huge gulped. I heard Brad yelled from the rear and asked me how s my water situation. I said gone. I looked over my watch and I barely run 5 miles for this section, so probably will be another mile or so. I wished I brought my Orangemud double barrel, so I could have an extra bottle. I made a quick off course trip to fill my bottle from the water stream, where it ran fluidly over the stones and had vegetation in and/or around it, probably as good as clean water that I can get. The trail was kept going up and up and up. One climb after another. Every turn on the downhill that I thought there would be the aid station, it turned up another climb.
And then I got into an expose rocky trail that it looked familiar. Then there was the long shiny stairs of Beacon Hill. At the bottom of the bridal trail, there there the aid station. The volunteer cheering on me from far away and asking what do I need, I just shaking my bottle and yell nada.
No It Didn’t
“Please don’t tell me that I need to went back up to the Beacon Hill”, I made my secret wish. But it did not happen. After I refill my bottle, popped 2 salt tablets, eat some foods, and fixing my shoes, I started to run back up to the hill. 2 miles up 2 miles down. Or something like that.
I passed the stairs, I had been there so many times a few years back, that I knew there was a small trail on the side. The stairs was just full of day hikers that took forever to just move their buttocks a few inches. I had lost my patience at that time. I kept pushing forward, hand on my hips or on my waist, power hike as fast as I could. The sooner I passed this God Bless Hill, the sooner it would be over. I almost stopped at one point before the casino ruin, but I kicked my self up. I would have gotten zillion cramps if I did not keep moving. After the hill, I became more cautious, and kinda walked while reading the direction. The volunteer in the aid station told me that someone tempered the race marking. So I needed to look the white trail on my right. There where a runner pass me. I thought he was a day hiker. He looked so clean, like just like got off from the shower, using a hipster bike short and colorful shirt. I saw him in the finish line area, finished ahead of me.
After I passed the fire tower, the course became technical butt slide downhill. Boulder after boulder, rock after rock I went down. Again, these day hikers just stood there blocking my way on the very strenuous rock slab. Why did they stop and took a breath on the way, not on the side? Once and a few more times, I jumped to the side of the rock, slided on my buttocks and scrabbed my palms.
Time went by pretty quick when I got into the junction back to the finish line. I remembered this section already , it would be about one more miles or so. So I started to do real running again, I was thinking cold water, beer, and a bag of ice on my ankle at the finish line. Ignoring the pain on this gnarly downhill, ignored the muds and water on the trail, and sped up on the last section to the green carpet to the finish line. The folks and runners at the finish line was too nice with cheering on me like I won it (Ben Nephew finished more than 2 hours ahead of me). I could not hide the smile on my face. It was a happy day. This training race turned up harder the Bear Mountain 50 miles that would come in the next couple of weeks. But it was just such a gorges race, a very scenic race, and I glad that I came out and played.