Cat’s Tail 2014 Race Trial

After I did the Manitou Revenge, I kept in touch with its Race Director, Charlie Gadol. He was a very knowledgeable person when it came to running or hiking in Catskill and up-state NY area. Then, few months after the Manitou Revenge race, he emailed me if I would be interested to participate in his running event. The run was point to point from Fox Hollow over Panther, Giant Ledge, then Slide, Cornell and Wittenberg, finishing in Woodland Valley. It would be timed and there would be an aid station on the half way point. He also wanted to make this as a real race in the future.

cats fatass map


Rise and Shine
When we started in the morning, the temperature was pretty chilly. I was a little undressed, but I think this would be a quick 20 miles and by the time I was done, the sun would come up already.
The first couple of miles was a continuous technical uphill on blue trail blazed. I blasted my ass the first half of mile since it was cold. The ascent was really rocky but still run-able. The issue was, how long I could keep running in this never end up hill. Probably the next 3 miles the climb become less steeper until  I got into the Panther Mountain (2300 ft ascent), then the course became a run-able rolling hills. After a couple of miles downhill, I crossed a pile of death tree branches where the course turned into a small trail that passed a private owned land. This section was pretty mellow and a little overgrown bushes. I got out from the trail, where the course continued on a road (RT 47) for one or two miles till I arrived at the Slide Mountain parking lot on my left. There was Steve waiting for us with a well stocked aid station. I think he said my time was 2:21.

Half Way to Nowhere
After grab a soda and refill my water flask, I continued my run. Of course, I took the wrong path. I crossed the dried river and went to a thick bushes. I ended up go back to the aid station and looking the direction. Steve told me that the trail supposed to be on the left side.
The trail started on the long steady uphill along the yellow trail blazer, then it continued into a red trail blazer. After I passed the Slide Mountain (1700 ft ascent), the decent to the Saddle was strenuous. It was just a massive pile of rocks, boulders, and rock walls. After about a mile, I ran back up to the Cornell Mountain for about 600 ft. It was not as bad as the next short but steep 200 ft ascent to the Wittenberg Mountain. The way doen Wittenberg Mountain was insane. It was like the descent to the Saddle, but plus a couple of vertical drop ridge. I remember on the one of the ridge, the wall was twice taller than me, and at that point I was running back and forth along the ridge since I was not sure if I had to go down thru that ridge.
After the technical descent watered down, I got into a junction. I saw there was a tree branch on the ground across the trail in front of me, and there was a sign of LP and red blazer went to the right. So I followed the trail on the right. After a few minutes, it became weird. The trail became a bit blurry, it just a land of leaves everywhere. Although, I saw a few pink ribbons on the trees. At that moment, I was sure that I was doing fine. I thought that was so nice of Charlie, he was still recovering from ankle surgery a few weeks before, and went up here to put these ribbons.
After, I found the single trail again, where there was a big tree fall, suddenly I heard noises on my right side. And it s not the sound of small animal (squirrel-like) noise. So I stopped running and grabbed a sturdy tree branch, after walked for a while and did not hear the noise got closer to my direction, I started to run again with my spear in my hand.
After a few miles, I started to become worry. It was seemed not right. I got into another peak, my watch showed 19 miles but I did not see or hear any traffic, because the finish point supposed to be close to road. The other problem was, I was running out of water, probably only a few ounces left in my flask. The cold wind started to blow and I did not have any extra layer. I ran around for a few minutes try to find signal. When I did manage to get one, I tried to call Charlie, but the call did not get thru. I tried to look at the map on my phone, and I got a text from T-Mobile that I did not have more data roaming, which was impossible. I had unlimited text and data, even when I travelled outside of US. To look back at this moment again, as much as it was a close call, it was pretty funny. I squad and hide behind a boulder that protect me from a cold wind, and talking with T-Mobile customer service for at least 15 mins, tried to troubleshoot my internet problem. Who does that in the mountain.
After they rebooted my network (I lost my GPS tracking too), I found out that I was way off the course. Probably more than 3 miles off heading to Phoenicia. I could keep going to Phoenicia and grabbed a cab from there, but I did not have my wallet/cash with me. So I decided to ran back and re-trace my run till I would find the junction, I had a pretty good idea where I made a mistake. Charlie and Steve (the volunteer at the halfway aid station) had told us about the new Long Path route that we should not take. I was pretty sure that I was the last junction on that trail. And it was make sense why the trail was so fuzzy, probably because not many people ran thru this section yet. About a mile before the junction, I met with Mike Siudy, who was running this new Long Path course just for some extra miles. And he confirmed that I was taking the longer route and I was on the Long Path. That was a relieve, but I still had no water left.
After I found the bloody junction, I turned right and made into the correct course. I ran with a slower pace so I could get to the finish point without water. And I was starving. My stomach was grumbling, probably the other runners could hear it from the finish line at the bottom of the mountain.
About less than a half of mile after the river, I got into the finish point at the Woodland Valley Campground parking lot. There was Charlie smiling and immediately gave me a big hug. I was the forth finisher, I was off 3-4 hours of my original plan, but I was still standing and alive.

If this course will be an official race in the future, I will definitely be there, without get lost off course.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.56.24 PM

This GPS track was not a real-time tracking, I manually drew it. I lost the tracking when I got lost

  • Activity: Running
  • Distance: 25.12 mi
  • Duration: 8:01:31
  • Average Pace: 19:10 min/mi
  • Start Time: Sun, 12 Nov 2014 8:00