Friday, September 25, 2009
North Face Endurance Challenge
Last weekend, we ran the North Face Endurance Challenge in Algonkian Park. They offered several races...50 miles, 50K, 21K, and 10K. We opted for the 21K (half marathon). My only other trail half marathon was a brutal, hilly event at Kualoa Ranch. This one promised to be much flatter. The weather was better too, with temps in the low 60s. I was eager to redeem myself after the lackluster performance at the off-road duathlon the previous week. Since I didn't have to ride a mountain bike, the chances were good that I'd do a little better. I didn't get off to a great start, as I had to make a last minute pre-race bathroom run. That set us up at the rear of the group. There were a few chokepoints early on in the race, so since we were at the back, we had to walk a few times in the first mile. After the course opened up a bit, I settled into a decent pace. A heavily tattooed dude past me. For some reason, I decided to follow the guy and ended up running with him through the next few miles of singletrack. At about mile 4, there was a huge hill. Everyone was walking, except for tattoo. I followed him up the hill and we passed dozens of walkers. He paced me for awhile. By the turnaround, tattoo ended up somewhere behind me, as it was difficult at times to pass runners on the single track. Most of the run was uneventful, except for stepping in a ditch, soaking both feet 6 miles into the race. After the turnaround, I saw Sonya close by. She said something about the lack of waterstations...come to find out, she ended up with a group that went off course missing both of them. I made it back to the hill again at mile 9. Like the first time hitting the hill, there were a lot of walkers. I continued to run. About halfway up the hill, I heard someone behind me. It was tattoo. We made it over the hill, and continued on...had some trouble finding the trail, but we thought we were on course until we looked around and saw no one ahead of us and heard no one behind us. We kept a good pace, until we finally came out of the singletrack and started seeing other runners. The 10K was finishing up, and the lead runners from the 50K (which started a couple hours earlier) were all merging onto the same course. We hauled ass for awhile...at the end, tattoo had a stronger kick and passed me at the finish at around 1:57. I was 40th out of 272 by the gun, and somewhere like 38th in chip time. Looking at the times, if I had started near the front, I could've finished ahead quite a few other guys. Since Male 30-39 is the strongest age group, ended up 20th in the age group. Sonya finished close behind me, good enough for 5th in her age group, and 11th out of 91 women. Had she not gone off course, probably would've finished higher.