Near Wellsboro, PA
9 September 2017
My second running of the Pine Creek Challenge was awesome! I felt good about my training leading up to the event and I had high hopes for a faster finish, but I was still a bit surprised to shave nearly two hours off my former time.
A number of things came together to make the experience a good one; these are the top three:
- The course was altered and the overall loop shortened. This meant never being further than 20 miles from the start/finish and it also meant runners were closer together. I passed a number of 100-mile runners after dark and I was never alone on the trail more than 15-20 minutes.
- The start time was two hours earlier, so I only ran in the dark for a couple of hours instead of 6-7. An earlier start is always a good thing!
- I ran three 50-milers in the past 18 months, so 100k wasn’t an overwhelming distance.
Race day was beautiful: cool and cloudy, with blue sky peeking through from time to time. (It didn’t rain at all, also a big improvement over 2015.) Instead of one long out and back, this year’s course was divided into two parts. We ran 20 miles on the north end in five-mile segments, then did a 20(ish)-mile out and back on the south end. Mentally it was more manageable to have those short sections early. The aid stations in the final 20 miles are about eight miles apart, which is significant.
I stuck with the run 12, walk 3 method I used during training and that worked well until about mile 42, when I began to struggle. I was coming up to an aid station, so I took a little time there, changed shirts, had some food and ginger ale. I must have been hungry, because eating seemed to revive me and after one slow mile I picked back up again. Around mile 55 I started feeling really good, so I finished strong.
The Tyoga Running Club does such a good job with this event. The volunteers are friendly and funny and they will swarm around you to refill your bottles and hand you food. Two aid stations had pierogies (!) and two had turkey sandwiches, which I loved because a lot of races have PB&J only, which I hate. There were also oranges at every aid station! Oh, and cowbells! Cowbells at every aid station. 🙂
At the finish I spoke briefly to race director Steve Hanes and picked out a handcrafted mug, which is such a nice way to end an exceptional event. I’m positive I will run Pine Creek again!
- Topo Athletic Ultrafly – Since the weather was dry and my feet seemed happy, I never changed shoes. I did end up with a random blister on top of one of my toes and I’m definitely going to lose a toenail, but I had no other issues. (I discovered leukotape earlier this year and my arches were taped.)
- Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set – Best vest ever! It hugs close, even though I had something stuffed into every pocket. No bouncing, no chafing.
- Suunto Ambit 2S – Charged halfway through. I’ve never been able to get the full battery life from it. (But I keep it on the most accurate setting, so there’s that.)
- random clothing items by Old Navy, Patagonia, Balega, Craft, Zombie Runner