Escarpment Trail 2014 – A Bless To Get High

Distance : 18 miles
Finish : 4:29:03
Rank : #72 (overall)

This was my second year to run this year. The same trail, the same thunderstorm rain, and the same motto, “Mountain Goat Only”. It still fresh in my mind how was those words spoken for itself.

This race was my training race for my upcoming TDS race; actually this would be my first mountain run training after a couple of weeks of vacation from running. I planned to run it nice and easy, try to find the best pace and strategy that I wanted to apply in TDS. Also I had a bruised on my left knee, I fell on the subway train on Friday night. Doing a parkour after midnight on the stairs was not a brilliant idea, I was not even drunk at that moment. Slow and easy seemed the right mantra that day.

Thunder, Lightning, and Pouring
I drove with Joe to the car pool area (the finish line area) to get a bus ride to the starting line. I stayed with Delano’s family the night before and got a chance to hang out with Dylan, which was awesome.

When we got into the starting line, I met many familiar faces, especially the runners from Manitou Revenge that I did a couple of weeks earlier. It was kind of funny how I always see these same people in all of my races these years; I guessed we shared the same flavor of trail running on the mountain, technical terrain and torturing ourselves.
The new thing with this year Escarpment Trail Race was we started in waves, since the park regulated a new rule, they only allowed a certain number of people on the trail at the same time. The first wave was mostly the male elites. I saw a few familiar faces in that wave, Ben Nephew who has been dominating Escarpment trail for years, Ian Golden the RD from Cayuga 50 miles, and Ryan Wellts. On the second wave, mostly were elites female, I saw Kristina Folcik and Sheryl Wheeler.
Like last year, it was pouring again this year, but we had a bonus this time. We got a few paparazzi from the sky, who flashing lightning and thunder from its dark sky.
I was cold and wet, so when I stood on the starting line in my wave with Joe Delano, I could not wait to start and got warm.

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Blues Cruise 50K 2013

Distance : 31 miles
Finish : 5:38:29
Pace :  10:55
Rank : #61 (overall)

Somehow we thought the race started at 8.30, so when we arrived there at 7.50, we basically dropped off our bag, get the BIB, and ran. Joe and I literally started from the very back of the starting line. Joe did not have water till aid station #1 and he was using button up shirt till the finish line. I, on the other hand, was kinda in a rush mode and ran too fast for my first part of 10 miles, and had to pay the price on the last 10 miles. Oh and off course, I got off the trail cuz when I was eating my M&M and did not pay attention on the trail mark, I got an extra free mile (maybe .5 mile). And for Jess, somehow she was having fun, though she got bloody knee. But we are happy folks at the finish line. One of my favorite race organizer.

Course Info
We run the Blues Cruise clockwise on even years and counter-clockwise on uneven years.

Course description for counter-clockwise directions: (uneven years)
The race starts at the pavilion at the Day-Use-Area. After a short stint on the road (about 1/3 mile) you will turn onto trails. The next 3 miles are mostly rolling single track and you will lose net-elevation until you arrive at Aid station #1.

Mile 4 to Mile 10: (Aid station # 3 — RATS NEST) features mostly single track and is considered the flattest and fastest section of the race.

Mile 10 to Mile 15: The real race starts at Mile 10!!! Climb up the ski slope hill (approx 300 ft climb) followed by a mix of rolling single track and wider gravel roads.

Mile 15 to Mile 25: This section is the most remote section of the trail system. Great views of the lake and the Pennsylvania hills. Great single track trails with rolling hills. None of these hills are super steep or long, however this section features a lot of these hills and they will take their toll if you run them too hard.

Mile 19 : (Gear drop location) Major creek crossing. Creek is about 50 ft wide and usually knee-deep. A volunteer will be there to assist you. Your drop back will be delivered to that location so you can change into dry shoes and socks if you wish.

Mile 25 – 30: Mix of single track and wider faster gravel sections.

Mile 30: Longest climb (approx) 1 mile of the race however not as steep as the ski slope hill. Finish: Nice little 1/3 Mile downhill on the road to the finish

Course description for clockwise directions:(even years)
The race starts at the pavilion at the Day-Use-Area. After a short stint on the road (about 1/3 mile) you will turn onto trails. After a short climb you hit a 1.5 mile downhill section to the stilling basin (lowest elevation of the race). The section from the stilling basin to the 1st aid station (mile 4) consists mostly of a gravel trail with little elevation changes. Mile 4 to Mile 16 (Aid station # 4 – Magarithaville) features mostly single track and many small hills. Each hill by itself is not difficult, since all of these climbs are less that 150 ft of elevation. However this section features a lot of these hills and they will take their toll if you run them too hard. The next 3 miles feature a mix of single track and some wide gravel trails. At Mile 19 you meet the infamous Ski slope Hill. Almost 300 ft of elevation gain will reduce most of us regular folks to walking.  Once you conquered the ski slope hills who have a long flat and fast section ahead of you. Mile 20 to 25 is mostly flat. This section can help you to conserve energy for the final push or help you to make some time. The hills are picking up again halfway between aid station #6 and #7. Aid station #7 is located at mile 27.5. The last section is all single track and hilly. The new course is more challenging than the original out and back, but we believe it is a fair course and doable for anyone who is prepared properly.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-05-at-9.56.48-PM coursemap

Super Spartan Tri State NJ 2013

Distance : 8-9 miles of the gnarly, rugged and extreme.
Finish : 1:54:33
Rank : #79 (overall)

This year was much easier than last year, and also, we lost a few cool obstacles. We did not have the monkey bar, cliff jumps, rope crossing over the river, and more.
I was not training at all for this race. I just ran a lot. So my plan was, I would kill my time on my running and would take my time on every obstacle nice and easy. And I knew I would pass the Hercules weight pull, from last year experience, the weight + gravity was about the same as my weight. I was dragged and pulled back up by the weight.
The race started with a quarter-mile of a steep uphill, I ran it till I passed everyone in my starting wave, and continue on the trail. Everything went like I was planned to, even on the highest wall, I could jump over it pretty easy. The funny part was, I had a hard time with the giant truck tire, and found out there was a huge rock inside it. The one that pissed me of was I fell on the climbing wall, that was supposed to be my second best strength after trail running, and it was not even difficult traversing. But overall I was pretty happy with my finishing time.

Race Description
The Super Spartan obstacle race provides an 8+ MILES / 20+ OBSTACLES battlefield of insane mud running with 15 or more obstacles to test your physical strength and mental resolve. This mud fest of a race will have many trials to push you to your limits that any man or woman with resolve can complete! This endurance race consists of mud runs, trails, and both mental and physical obstacles and challenges. The good news is that after you complete your painful journey, there will be live music and a catered meal to soothe your aching joints.

Escarpment Trail Run 2013

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.

The Race
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.




2013 Leatherman’s Loop

Distance : 6.2 miles
Finish : 51:05
Pace : 8:14
Rank : 
#77 (overall)