Whiteface Vertical Weekend 2015 From The Sideline

Whiteface Vertical Weekend is party of 2015 US Skyrunner Series usskyrunning.com
Saturday runners will see a glute and lung crushing ascents and quad threshold descents, both tapered by epic vistas. Sunday race will provide beautiful rolling trail interspersed with two of the sharpest vertical ascents and descents that you’ll find on any trail course, anywhere. Whiteface sits on more true vertical gain than all but 14 other ski resorts in North America and more than any resort east of the Rockies. From its sharp and exposed form to an entrance lined with the rings and flags of the world telling of its place in past and current Olympic activity, Whiteface is iconic. The resort and the town of Wilmington will provide the pitch perfect venue for what should be an amazing weekend of hard efforts, epic experiences, and the wonderful community which defines the best of trail running.


Smart Over Ego
Both distance of Whiteface Vertical Weekend was part of my main race in my 2015 calendar. I was really excited about these races, mainly, because I have never done any vertical race or sky running. Unfortunately, due to my health issue a week before from the Manitou Revenge, I forced myself to be a smart and pulled myself from the starting lines. Although I went out there to volunteer, I wanted to be in the mountain and witnessed the brave soul to challenge the mountain’s steep climb.

Vertical K
I woke up in the morning and I was so excited that I could volunteer at the finish line, which mean that I could see all the elite pushed to their last breathe to the finish line. The terrain was reminding me of UTMB course where the runners run along the ski lift where usually normal people are using it to climb to ski down, probably it wont be allowed in any other day. From the top, it was gorges, yet relenting. The 2.5 miles with over 3000 ft vertical gain was not an easy feature, some part of it was pretty darn steep. When I rode the gondola to the top, I could see how steep and long was the last push of the race, it was a bit of intimidating. Oh also they have bears there, as a statues or alive ones.

When we got to the finish line, just a few minutes after we were done with our finish line preparation, Joe Gray came out from the ridge and finished it strong. He did not event look tired. The top 3 guys were separated about a minute  in between.

I guessed that what made different between elite and the regular runners. They could endure more on those relentless steep hill, to keep their heart rate high and ignore the complains from the muscles, to keep the pace high.
Other than I got to see these awesome front-runners, but I could also cheering my friends, Chang and KenTom. On the top of it, this was the first time I could witness a 3 generations of a family who were running in the same race. After we the last runner made it to the top, we cleaned up the finish line area and started to head down. I ran with Ian Golden to the closest gondola, it was a good down hill trail, but I was still have a hard time breathing. The same issue what I had in Manitou, so I guessed it was still lingering.

Whiteface Vertical K Results

Sky Marathon
The next day, we woke up under the rain, and we were a bit late. So we just shoved in our tent and hit the road to the starting line.
When we got into the starting line, the rain was getting heavier. My station for volunteering today was in Flume loop aid station. On the course, Flume aid station was about a miles from the starting line, they would run through it and ran here, after the runners got down from the first ascent. Then, they would make a small 3-4 miles loop and back to this aid station before going back to starting line for the 3rd time before they attempted the second ascent to the top.

After we set up the aid station, we rushed back to the starting line, to see the start. The rain had been turned into a rain storm. Heavy rain with strong cold winds. Unfortunately, there was a little glitch on the first section of the race, the course marshal missed the schedule, so some of the elite made a wrong turn and ran extra mile.

After the last runner out of our sight we went back to the aid station. We just realized that we setup out aid station on the wrong side of the course, so we quickly moved everything. Luckily we got it done before the first runner coming in, Joe. He still lead on the second loop too. We tried to cheer up the runners as much as we could. It was not an easy day at all for a trail race, especially sky running race. It such a gloomy day, and strong cold wind with rain made the though terrain became almost impossible. I heard plenty was drop out since the downhill from the hill was a jumble of rocks and mud smoothie, it was probably hard for the runners to think about to do it again for the second time.
After the last run through, one of the volunteers started to sweep and clean up the trail marker on the Flume loop. When he were back, we started to break down the aid station and I started to sweep and clean up the section from Flume to the start/finish line aid station.
Actually I felt much better on this run, I actually had a fun run on the trail, despite deep mud and wet trail.
Whiteface Sky Marathon Results