“Grit, endurance, temporary loss of sanity. You might need all of these if you want to attempt Grindstone. If you want to finish, well, just keep in mind this is, without a doubt, the hardest 100 miler east of the 100th meridian. Now that you’re hooked, Grindstone is going to be an incredible adventure for each and every entrant. From the beautiful start/finish location at Camp Shenandoah to the monster climbs and the solitude of single track ridge running, you just can’t beat Grindstone… but you can try!”
– Race Director (Clark Zealand) –
Course Description (Wikipedia) Grindstone 100 miler is an annual 101.85 mile long ultramarathon that takes place on trails in Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, usually the first weekend of October. The race starts at Camp Shenandoah, a local camp of the Boy Scouts of America. Beginning at Camp Shenandoah, this out-n-back course ascends and descends Little North Mountain before climbing over 2400 ft (740m) in 4 miles (6.4km) to the summit of Elliott Knob. The course then proceeds north following the ridge-line of the Great North Mountain range, crossing over to and following the Wild Oak Trail before continuing north to the summit of Reddish Knob. Runners continue north to Briery Branch Gap before retracing their steps (without summiting Elliott & Reddish) back along the course to Camp Shenandoah. Runners climb a cumulative total of 23,200 feet (7,140m) and descend a total of 23,200 feet (7,140m) on mountain trails before reaching the finish.
The aid station break down
My race plan, a little high for the A goal, but I took the chance
“This course is incredibly dangerous, not just due to the terrain but the potential for lightning, rock slides, and other severe hazards that could severely injure you or even worse.” – Dick Vincent, RD
This year was my third time in Escarpment Trail Race. I missed it last year since I was on the road trip to Colorado. And as usual, it was raining again. Probably it was me, not the weather fault. Probably 8 of 10 races that I ran this year were raining. But on the other hand, we had sans lightning. Also, this was the 40th Escarpment Trail Race, yeah older than me.
Cayuga 50 was one of my two race nemesis. I had been in this race twice before and I DNF-ed on both of them. One from a rhabdo symptoms and the other one was from falling to a rock on my busted pelvis. But this time I came in smarter and stronger, I was ready what might come. The question was, would I have the will power to face the stairways to heaven out and back twice.
General Description From The RD
Cayuga Trails uses an out-back C-shape course configuration w/ a lollipop loop on the far end. The out-back configuration was chosen secondary to the FLT extending onto road and fairly unremarkable sections beyond each terminus. The result has allowed entrants to have the opportunity to see the race shaking out ahead and behind them in several points. It starts and ends in Robert H. Treman State Park where it ascends the gorge trail, passing through the Lucifer Fall’s area in the upper gorge and the Finger Lakes Runner’s Club’s Old Mill AS, before wrapping out/connecting with/descending on the Rim Trail. Both sections are double/triple track trail which was intentionally chosen to allow the field to accommodate packs while minimizing potential impact to more sensitive surrounding single-track. Once clearing IronHeart Racing’s Underpass AS runners will cross a creek and ascend single-track through and beyond the Finger Lake Land Trust’s Lick Brook Gorge. From there it feeds through to Buttermilk Falls State Park where it begins the lollipop loop, traversing the upper old reservoir, merging w/ a scenic park road and descending on the old Burma Rd to Trails Roc’s Buttermilk AS. From there it ascends the Buttermilk Gorge Trail on its way back to the start. Fifty milers complete two circuits, 40k’rs one.
The elevation gain is most likely somewhere around 9,000 though GPS devices have recorded as much as 11k+. It’s tough to get a handle on an accurate read given the nature of the tight gorges and inaccurate signals. There are creek crossings around mile 4, 7.5, and 11.5…hit again on the return so the feet will stay wet.
“There are steep hills, with sharp rocks and plenty of roots and then, when you least expect it, a ledge pops up that you need to jump off. There will be walking.”
— Runner’s World —
Again, I came to the race parking lot with sky water dripping onto my shoulder. Man, what is up with my 2016 races, hope this won’t be a norm for the rest of the year. I signed up this race for a training run, coach said that I needed to train on my pace and more importantly training for my hike.
The race follows the New England National Scenic Trail (NET) in a westerly direction from Route 116 at the Notch in South Amherst to Old Mountain Road in Hadley and then retraces the route back to Route 116. The single-track trail is marked with white, rectangular blazes. 12 miles of technical, single-track trail on an out-and-back course with over 3,500 ft. elevation gain, following the ridge-crest of the Mt Holyoke Range. It’s widely considered the most challenging trail race in the Northeast… and in our humble opinion… it has the most beautiful views.
Caumsett State Park is located at Lloyd’s Neck in the Town of Huntington, New York. The Course is a measured 5 kilometer loop on paved path, with two small inclines through lovely and Historic Caumsett Park, with stunning views of the Long Island Sound.