Tuesday, October 22, 2013

SPECTATOR REPORT: Bimbler's Bluff 50k

Unless you live under a rock, in the woods far away from civilization, or are an endurance junky, you acknowledge that life comes in rough weekly cycles.  Somewhere around Monday morning to Monday afternoon is the low point in the week.  Most people are semi-depressed, low on energy, and have low motivation to do much.  Somewhere around Wednesday this starts to wane and by Friday, anti-depressants are swapped out for ecstasy which rides out the majority of the weekend before the cycle starts again.

On a side note...
I wonder if there is a trend
of which days have the greatest anti-depressant purchases and/or dosages.
The graphs are already forming in my head.  

Anyways...  Over the last few months, I've come to realize that my weeks never seem to end; it's a constantly moving list of things going on and I rarely ever feel like I've hit the end of a week.  If I'm not at work, I'm with a running group.  If I'm not with a running group, I'm running by myself.  If I'm not running by myself, I'm watching someone else run.  It's a lot of running and this weekend was no different.

As you read HERE, I wasn't able to make it in for the Bimbler's Bluff 50k this past Sunday.  However, that certainly didn't keep me from heading down to Guilford to spend the day spectating (and wishing I could run). 

At 5:00am, I woke up and realized that whether I race or spectate, I'm still up at the same time.  Wishing I could run - and of course packing my bag with all my needed running gear JUUUUUUUST in case, I got breakfast, packed the car and was out the door by 6:00am for the 45 minute drive to Guilford, CT.  I even beat my friends who were racing there!

The race itself started and finished at a local high school.  As most ultras go (from what I hear), it was pretty low key.  There were about 150 runners who came out for the 6th race and they had just about anything you could think of as far as gear.  Some looked like they were ready for a 5k.  Others looked like they were going on a multi-day hike.  If you think a marathon shows the range of personal running choices, check out an ultra!! 

As my friends Jenn & Christine got ready (above left), they made some quick announcements including the fact that a resident along the course had torn down the signage last year.  So as a warning, they told them to expect that section of the course to not be marked and simply follow the trail markings.  When you're covering such a long distance, you have to assume that they can't keep watch on the ENTIRE course! 

Then the runners amassed for the national anthem.  It was quickly apparent that the iPod was not going to play through the loudspeaker, so the local Choral teachers came out to sing (top right)!  This was impromptu and a very cool touch.  Kudos to them. 

And then with very little pizazz, the race was off!  Most people in an ultra have been to the big to-do races, they've seen the big start display and the fancy finish lines.  When you show up for an ultra, you're there for the mileage, not the swag. 

A 50k is roughly 31 miles.  This race was more around 32 and had no loops, so once everyone was off, all the spectators stood around saying "Ok.... What now?"  Haha. 

Thankfully, the race had five spots that were easy access to the course.  These spots were aid stations for the runners as well as great places for friends and family to come by with cheers, signs, cowbells, or the needed gear (new socks, drinks, food, etc.). Christine's husband Adam, Jenn's friend Mike, and I drove around to catch the girls as they went by.  And I have to admit, it was quite fun.

The first "stop" was about 2.5 miles in and had no aid station.  It was just a road crossing where we parked and watched them go by.  It was quick, but fun to watch the runners.  Mike puts it pretty well in the above video; "Woohoo!  See you in... a couple hours." 

The next stop was their first aid station at roughly mile 10. 

The top left is the double table full of water, HEED, Gatorade, peanut butter and jelly, oranges, bananas, M&Ms, boiled potatoes, and some other interesting items.  The top right is the section of the trail just after the aid station.  It was quite a big hill to climb!  Those are runners #1 and 2 at this point in the day. 

Another great point about ultras - WALK!!  You've got plenty of miles to go, so walk when you hit a nasty uphill.  As Mike sums it up well again... "You've only got a marathon left!"  Haha.  Isn't that what we all want to hear!!

We watched a lot of runners come up the hill and most did walk, which was very smart.  Even the leaders did a good amount of walking.  Then it was off to the next stop where wouldn't you know, they had GRILLED CHEESE!!

Aid station #3 was at the 16 mile point.  And while waiting, we got to see a lot of fun things while continuously ringing our cowbells...

There must have been a cycling race because a LOT of cyclists went by.  Then there was the guy who ran the entire 50k in what looked like a flannel type shirt; AMAZING!  Then the fun VW van that went by twice (once ominously followed by a cop) and the group that ran in matching "party hard" shirts.  They were pretty out of it by the end of the race, but they did well. 

So while at this station, all of our ears perked up when we heard someone say "Anyone want a grilled cheese?"  That's not exactly food you'd think to have on a run.  But remember, at an ultra, it's a no holds bar!!  The grilled cheese was quite a hit. 

Aside from the popular grilled cheese (which I did get a piece of thanks to the awesome volunteers), there was a nice variety of food shown above.  And it was all thanks to the crazy and awesome volunteers on the right.  They were a ball of energy and much appreciated I'm sure.  They were ready with plastic bags to fill with whatever a runner needed!  Awesome job!!

The ladies filled their packs, Jenn got a grilled cheese, they packed their ziploc bags and were off! 

Unfortunately, Mike had to head off at this point and Adam needed to pick up some friends at the local train station, so I headed off to Aid Station #4 at mile 22 to cheer on the ladies.  This is also where I got my favorite picture of the day...

Yup, they're officially delirious!  Haha.  Nah, they were doing great!  The day, however, was starting to take a toll.  After a few falls, Jenn had a bloody knee, they had some dirt patches on their legs/clothes, and they were happier and happier every time they heard the cowbells.  Actually, most people were; it meant the aid station was very close! 

We refilled the packs, got some much needed food, and a few minutes later, they headed back off. 

I met back up with Adam as well as Jared and Stacey at the final aid station. 

And pretty much right on cue, they came running around the corner...

"We're starving!!"  I can't even blame them.  At this point, they were about 29 miles in and had been on their own for the last 8 miles.  We spent a good amount of time at the next station munching on potato chips, potatoes and the super popular homemade gingerbread cookies!  Seriously, they kept going back for more of those.  Haha.

Yum!!!  COOKIES!!

Once satiated (at least somewhat), they headed back off and ran the final 2.5 miles to the finish line.

Immediately afterwards, the ladies got their finisher's beer glass, Adam fired up the portable grill, Christine got her specially requested beer, and we had a little cookout right in the school parking lot!  It was quite a day!

Overall, I was super proud of them both.  Christine battled some dehydration early on and Jenn battled some ankle rolls, but they made it to the finish and looked good doing it!!  As expected, I was super jealous the entire race, but on the bright side, I believe I have another race for next year; the 2014 Bimbler's Bluff 50k!


1.  Have you ever run an ultra?
If so, how different was it from the typical road race you've done.  I know this was trails which can be VERY different than road, but simply based on distance, what did you notice was different?

2.  Have you ever run a trail race?
I never have, but 12 or so of the first 18 at the JFK50 is on trails. 

3.  What is your preferred distance for racing?
Are you a 5k person, a marathoner, or do you not do anything less than 50 miles?!

4.  What day is your typical LOW of the week?
I think Tuesday might be my low.  I've come off the high of the weekend by then and have started planning for the next.  


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