2013 Wapack and Back 50 Miler
Rocks and roots and more rocks and roots, a lot of up and down, a little bit of dirt and even less pavement = Wapack and Back 50 miler. Wapack is everything I love in a race.
You know you’ve got a lot going on in your life when just a few days before and ultra you realize you’ve had the wrong date for the race in your calendar. Yikes! Luckily we hadn’t booked anything on Saturday and my mom was able to take Shep and Dahlia at the last minute so Scott and I could drive up Friday evening and camp in our VW pop top at the race start. Morning came quickly. The weather was threatening but did not start sputtering on us until the exact moment that Norm Sheppard (the RD) said “Go”. We headed directly uphill to Mt .Watatic and once there just as promptly headed down. That was the pattern of the day; up and down.
I ran with Scott Patnode and Jeff Hart for over an hour but they pulled away on a uphill. After that I was alone for much of the race. It drizzled on and off for a good part of the first half and my long main of hair began to knot up. I was developing a dread lock! My plan was to reach the Windblown aid station (mile 9) in under 2 hours and then to the turn around (mile 21.5) in a little over 4 hours allowing me to return somewhere between 9 to 9.5 hours. I did reach Windblown in just under 2 hours where ultra friend and crazy woman :), Michelle Roy, was helping out (along with her beau Doc and another nice man). After a few wrong turns at the top of a dirt road and topping out over chilly Pac Monadnock I finally reached the turnaround in 4 hours 45 minutes. I got to see running friends Kristina Folcik and Ryan Weltz but didn’t stay long because the bugs were really bad there. I dropped my Surge pack along with my gloves and pullover and hightailed it out of there. The sun had been starting to peak out (it was obscured by clouds all morning) and I thought that was the end of the rainy weather. I was wrong. The rain and cold came again and I was wishing I hadn’t left my gloves behind. But, once I got over the high points I was warm again. Coming into the 27 mile aid station I had only taken in a serving of UCAN and 3 Vi Fuel gels. I wanted to be able to continue with less food found I was getting hungry. I wished I had packed more UCAN to try to stick to that fueling but I did not because I wasn’t sure how to go about that; gulp it down at a drop bag aid station? Make a slurry and carry it? I couldn’t decide so I didn’t bring any and wished I had. So I resorted to more gels.
The rocks and roots were slippery. I found my pace slowing. My knees and ankles were taking a beating. I got caught by another runner and ran with him for a while His name was Tony Henderson. He would get ahead and then go off course and we’d be back together again. It was quite comical. He pulled away once more and I did not get to see him again until the last out and back. Tony was having a strong finish. This race is extremely challenging, not just due to it’s surface and terrain, but also because the out and back only adds up to 43 miles so each 50 mile participant needs to get the additional miles in by heading back out from the start/finish on the same trail for 3.5 miles and then returning once again. It takes extreme motivation to do it! A runner also needs to make a cut off of 12 hours in 43 miles. I came back to the start/finish in just under 10 hours. I was off my mark but still in good spirits. I decided to change my shoes because I was developing a hot spot in the ball of my left foot because of the wetness and I did not want it to turn into a bigger issue. I exchanged my Surge pack for a handheld. The last 7 miles were pretty slow. I know there was no way at that point that I would be able to break Kristina’s record for the previous year so I decided to just get it done and enjoy my last bit of time on the trail. I finished in 11 hours and 45 minutes. I was the only female to complete the 50 miles. The RD allows racers to stop at the 43 mile mark and still be called a finisher if they have decided they had enough or they miss the cut-off.
Placing a stocked UltrAspire Surge pack in my drop bag for the turn around aid station worked really well. I did have to refill some water at Windblown on the way back. I think I did not drink enough on the way out. When I examined my water bladders after the race I saw that I had only drank about 50 oz in the first 4.75 hours. I drank almost 70 oz in just 3 hours on the return. I did use gels (Vi Fuel, Roctane and Hammer gels) in the race but after finishing I had the same upset stomach that I have had every race since last year’s Laurel Highlands. Luckily it did not come in the middle of the race like it did in Pinhoti 100. I have to examine whether it’s the caffeine in the salt tablets I am taking or too much sugar from the gels or Perpetuum. I never had this problem when I took in regular food. Maybe it’s time to go back. There’s always more to learn!
Thank you to Norm Sheppard for putting on a great race. And thank you to Scott for being so flexible with the race weekend!