Sunday, August 7, 2016

2016 Racing Season: Ontario Summit Trail Races 1/2 Marathon, June 11, 2016, Naples, NY

Pint glass to all finishers, the coaster for the marathoners.  Photo courtesy of Anne.

My new friends Ben and Lauren picked me up around 8 AM at my parents, (where I had been staying as I looked for work and a house for our family), on Saturday, June 11, 2016, to head down to Naples, NY, for the Ontario Summit Trail Races.  Lauren had a big fundraising event the next day for her work, so she was going to cheer us on while Ben and I both ran the half marathon.  Several other people we knew from the group were also there, either running the marathon, the half, or spectating like Lauren.  

One of the first things Ben and I both noticed as we checked in was that CB Craft Brewers was there and would be filling our pint glasses for free after the race, but you could also buy a growler, (which Ben promptly did!), and get it filled as well, for FREE!

The second thing it was hard not to notice was all the worms...everywhere...covering the surfaces of the rocks, the ground, handing on threads from the inch worms...can't remember if we ever found out the type, but you could not avoid them...including during the race...more on that later...

Our friends Anne and Shari, that I had traveled with to the Thom Bugliosi Races about a month earlier, had started an hour and a half before us and were running their first full marathon, 2 loops of our course.  We weren't sure how they were doing, but were hoping maybe we'd see them somehow out on the course.  Meanwhile, after warming up a bit and getting ready, our start time of 10 AM soon came, and after a few announcements, we were off.

I think I might have seen Ben once or twice in the opening miles as the trails circled around in the woods, but after that, he was gone.  Though he didn't really have much, if anything, for hydration with him, he was doing well.  

Ben coming into the first aid station.  Photo courtesy of Lauren.

Meanwhile, I was tacked onto a group going through the trees probably a bit faster than I should have been, but okay for right would NOT stay that way.

Coming into the first aid station at the back of a group.
Looking to top of my hydration.  Both photos by Lauren.

As I continued along my way, I was harassed before the midway point by what I call Greenheads or others would know as horseflies.  Their bite is a wee bit painful, and they are annoying to boot as they fly around your head looking for a place to land.  They are not easy to kill having a firm exoskeleton.  Fortunately, this only lasted for a mile of less, just in time for my next issue.

I had eaten too much at breakfast, and now it was struggling to "not" settle.  In addition, the week before, I had been so sick over the weekend that I had to postpone a flight from Iowa back to New York for a day.  As I came into the second aid station around the middle of the race, and right before the major, several mile long climb, I was looking for a bathroom.  There wasn't one, just the woods. That's great if you just have to get rid of some excess hydration...that was not what I I started climbing...and scanning...for a place to scurry off into the woods...finally after a little bit, I headed off into the brush...faced back towards the course and hoped I had the right angle so as not to dirty my shorts...let's just say I was glad I had brought some TP with me!!!  Since some races are pack it in and pack it out in terms of trash, or get disqualified, I was also glad that I had put that TP into a little resealable baggy I could then later throw away at the aid station 3...the one that never seemed to arrive.

Elevation chart for the OSTR, courtesy of

Relieved of my stomach issues, I now faced a climb that seemed to slowly elevate and roll for around 3 miles while I also ran out of hydration and was already bearing down on dehydration due to the diarrhea.  The weird thing about the course this day, was that the trail seemed dry but the air seemed humid.  Normally I would have thought that a 24 oz water bottle could get me through between aid stations, but with everything going on in my body, I found myself bumming a sip of water off another runner as I struggled and worsened, asking another for some, but he only had a pack and was down too I think.  I was trying to partition my few ounces left each 1/2 mile or so.  Finally towards the top of one stretch, I found a spectator and after asking if he had any water, he gave me almost all of his own water bottle.  Along with a salt pill, I used this to revive myself some, saving a portion of it to spread out and get me to the next aid station.  Meanwhile the worms...they were everywhere...they were all over the backs of the runners ahead of you...they dangled on lines from the'd bat them out of the way only for them to swing back like Tarzan and cling to your clothes.  They tried to sneak into places like your was so tempting to want to flick them off your fellow runner, and I was constantly picking them off of myself...

Meanwhile, somewhere up ahead, most likely close to the finish, or perhaps getting his growler filled, Ben, though he had also had some struggles, raced to a 2nd place finish in his age group, 22nd out of 151 finishers.  Somewhere else on course, Anne and Shari were struggling to hold onto their first marathon finish, having made the time cut to start the second loop.  They were hanging towards the back, but helping each other out as they pushed along the trails.

Ben with his growler, posing for his future wife Lauren, while waiting for me to finish!  

As I got closer to the finish, I passed one of our TrailsRoc runners, relaxed and sitting in his camp chair by the side of a road crossing, cheering on runners.  I had been warned, that as you get close to the finish of the race, there's this cruel trick, where you actually cross a path that looks right to the finish, but you go a different direction.  That's where I saw Ben and Lauren the first time, and thinking I just had to run a small bump of a knoll and turn back around, I found I had been tricked. The course went way out on a 1/2 mile(?) loop before swinging around and then coming back to the path to the finish where I saw Ben and Lauren again and headed for home.  That was one of the worst race days I have ever had and on a course I would rank in the top 10 hardest I have done across the U.S.  I finished 114th.

After I relaxed for a few moments, I got into line for the fresh made burritos from Mesa Grande Taqueria.  Wow!  They were big and they were great!  I can almost taste them now while I drink my morning coffee!  So good! So fresh!  Yum!  Perfectly paired with the local brews of CB Craft Brewers.  While I had been in line for the burritos, they did awards and Ben got his second place award along with a brand new BUFF!  

We hoped to see Anne and Shari, but they never came, as the course was not a fast one.  Having determined that we had finally gotten all the worms out of our clothes and out of their car, Ben, Lauren, and myself headed back towards home.

But...Anne and Shari finished.  Their first full marathon happened on a course that according to my watch was actually around 13.3 miles per lap, and one of the toughest out there.  Though they finished last, they finished as friends, hand in hand. Race organizers gave Shari the time over Anne, since there was still an award up for grabs and they are both in the same age group!  Guess they should have sprinted it out!!!  Anyway, as you can see in the pics below that Anne sent me, they were immensely happy.  Only 30 people finished the full marathon! 

As a postscript, while at work last night, I found a picture of Anne and Shari after the completion of their first 50K yesterday!  Congrats to my two friends, but remember, technically, your first ultra was at OSTR where you didn't just run a marathon, but probably 26.6+ miles of tough terrain...with worms...

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