Distance : 18 miles
Finish : 4:40:41
Rank : #85 (overall)
From the race director (Mountain Goat Comment IS NO JOKE)
THE ESCARPMENT TRAIL RUN IS FOR MOUNTAIN GOATS ONLY!!! The Escarpment Trail is a very remote, rugged hiking trail in the Northern Catskill Mountains in New York State. This single track trail crosses no roads, has total elevation changes of nearly 10,000 feet, and requires all aid to be backpacked in by volunteers. This is not for your average runner but for the runner who trains 12 months a year, and has spent years building a base and gaining long distance experience. Therefore, qualifying standards are required to insure that all participants have experience with endurance events and have a reasonable chance of completing the course within 6 hours.
Jessica Woods, Melissa Woods, and I regrouped together that morning. It was a drench. The rain had been pouring since the night before, so I said to myself, “Way to go to start”.
We started by crossing the road from the parking lot to the Escarpment Trail. Probably there was only less than a quarter-mile of run-able single trail before we met with our 1st uphill. It was run-able uphill with not too crazy technical terrain, the issue was it last almost 2 miles. Wait it might have been the whole race was uphill. Usually I did not mind to have uphill on my trail run, kinda fun in a way, but this time I got enough hill that I could barely digest it.
One of the toughest one was on mile 14, where we were climbing steep Blackhead Mountain full of huge rocks. Some of them were as tall as me probably, it was more scrambling then running at that point. The rocks were pretty steep and high. Many times I needed to use my hands to grab roots or rock’s surface to haul myself up. I think there was a guy who was playing a goat bell, calling us the mountain goat.
When I thought the hill was over, oh from here to the finish line, it was nothing but a rolling hill. And the rolling hill was not nice runnable hill, but they were all very technical that ready to break my ankle any minutes.
On my 1st half of the race, I got so many close calls that it was pretty mellow me down and I became very careful, specially on the downhill.
There were a few hill tops in this race. I wished it was not raining and foggy. Those cliffs must have been very scenic.
After the last rocky hill tops where I ran cross the rocky section and got into the tree line again, there was a crazy down hill, a long slipper steep full of boulders rock. Many times I had to utilize my skinny buttocks as my downhill tool.
After that it was a good couple miles of runnable stretch until we got into the finish line.
Quick note, despite the crazy terrain, Charlie (the race director) managed to get volunteer and pretty good aid station goodies along the route. I did not even touched my stash from my hydration bag. Big four thumbs up for Charlie to create this amazing race in a very difficult terrain.
Losing a friend
After I finished and wait for a few minutes, I was a little bit worry about Jess. She is a tough ultra runner. As far as I have run with her, she always puts smile and positive vibe, even on the toughest trail we ever ran. But that day was not an ordinary tough trail running, it was pretty extreme. And I was the one who encourage her to run this madness race. So I was afraid she ran into trouble or at least she gonna hate me for putting her into an astray.
So I decided to run back and picked her up. I met Melissa Woods on the trail, and I asked her if she saw Jess. She said she did not, and I became more worry about her. After a couple of miles, there she was on the trail just before the crazy downhill. I caught up with her and asked if she was alright. Other than her bloody knee and sore arms from hauling herself, she was doing splendid. We ran together and I delivered her to the finish line safety.
And yes we are still friend.