Trail Running At It’s Finest ~ The Great Adirondack Trail Run
I have been given the job of doing the race report for The Great Adirondack Trail Run. As I thought about what to write, it dawned on me that I didn’t want to give this race the standard root by rock recap of the course, I will instead give an over all view on the day, the beauty of this ADK race, and overall insight into why trail races and trail runners truly are awesome!
Morning dawned, we got little sleep (our niece had a rough night = little sleep for us), and we had to leave by 6:30 am to get to the race on time. Now it wouldn’t be an Auyer trip to a race without over looking some detail. Jon checked all 3 ferry crossing prices, but failed to notice that Burlington and Charlotte crossings only leave every hour. We were too late for either, and waiting for the 8 am would put us in Keene too late. So, after grabbing bagels at The Bagel Market on Suzie Wilson Rd. (great bagels), we opted for the Grand Isle Ferry, and had to drive south to Keene from Plattsburgh once in NY. We made it on time, got ready (usual singlets, shorts, Jon in Trail Gloves, me in Spyridons), and headed to The Mountaineer to await our school bus. The group waiting is your typical trail running crew; someone with dreads, people with sweet mustaches, one or more people not speaking English, awesome running families with weird hipster/sporty hybrid kids, spouses of runners with babies in Kelty baby packs, you know… lots of outdoorsy looking people, oh and Gumby. We all boarded a school bus and were shuttled to the start. On the bus we got the race low down from the organizer. Awesome sponsors were thanked including Patagonia who gives two checks each year to the Ausable and Boquet River associations. We signed waivers, got sharpie arm numbers, then proceeded down the road to the trail head for stagger starts.
Jonnie and I started together (since The Monster Half Marathon I have been a little weary of being lost and wanted to get a feel for the course with Jon in ear shot). The ascent was decently long, and only began to switch back at the top. Jonnie left me, then the blazes turned from blue to red and the path became leaf covered, and I got a little nervous. Following people ahead of me, I continued on as the path began to get very steep on the descent and follow what seemed to be an old creek bed (tons of little boulders to traverse), some young whippersnapper ran past me (he clearly knew what he was doing, and will be mentioned later). With the trail still scary, I noticed someone running back at me. It was Jon, in true Coyote Bushido fashion, making sure I was ok, not lost, and on the trail. I figured I could handle it, let him go and continued to gingerly scramble down boulders. This was the only point I wish I didn’t have socks on in my Spyridons (protecting a blister) because this was true toes”to the front of your shoes” type of descent and I felt the socks were making it even more slippery in my shoes. Eventually the trail turned into a beautiful pine needle covered mild descent. I prayed to the trail god Kokopelli and with my brace on me knee, opened it up and tried to get some of my time back that I lost on the ascent and the scramble. Knee felt great, and I kept the pace as the trail turned to private road and back to trail. Nearing houses, I knew I was close, had no clue what my time was, and didn’t care. It was beautiful, there were rivers around me, people were kind, moved to offer faster runners the single trail (I myself moved over 3 times, and never thought someone would have to move for me, but they did!), and everyone seemed to have that joy that only comes with running in the woods. I crossed the 2nd to last bridge and heard my personal cheering section yelling for me! Jonnie paced me for a couple yards, onto the final bridge before the finish and gradually peeled back to let me cross the finish on my own, waving my ink numbered arm at the volunteers.
And now… this is where it gets good, where trail running shines… the community and the celebration of lovin nature. Everyone ditched shoes, shirts, and headed for the river. It was great to hear people talk of their run, young and old. Jon and I marveled at the 13 year old who passed both of us, never to be seen again, and eventually won the 3.5 miler, that whippersnapper. I chatted with kids, kids that know how to run (if you know me, you know I dislike people who enter their kids in races without teaching them etiquette or pacing). These were cool kids. I chatted with the people from Quebec, and watched Gumby cross the finish line, turn right, not stop running, and run right into the river costume and all. We eventually got out and headed for the BBQ. Veggie burger and pasta salad on plate, we sat down to listen to the band, drink free Ubu Ale from Lake Placid Brewery , and enjoy the majestic Adirondack day. Because the 11 miler wasn’t over (a race we tried to get into, but sold out in 2 hrs on opening day) the awards were a long way off, so we headed back to the river, this time Jon persuaded me to go swimming so in we went, and hung out to chat with some 11 miler finishers (this was also a stagger start so people were finishing in waves for a while). So, if it seems so far that we’ve made a day of this event, it’s because we have. Trail runs, often involve BBQ’s (at lease three of our favorites do) and people generally linger because, well, its beautiful where ever you trail run. So, cooled down, we changed and headed to the awards. Jon noticed that people were gathered around a table, looking at results, so we stopped to check in on our results (something trail runners seem to be less concerned with then their road counterparts). Even with Bushido Jon turning back to check in on me, he was the male winner of his age group, 30-39. And what was this… Katie Auyer, female winner 20-29, along with Gumby. Double Auyer 1st places…. crazy (oh, and on the list was a young finisher named Katrin, first time I have ever seen my name in print and it wasn’t me). It couldn’t have been more beautiful, more fulfilling, and more perfect of a day. Just an FYI as to the difficulty of this race, Jon won his age group with 10ish minute miles, and me with 12ish minute miles. Not easy.
Good people, good food, good music, good beer, sponsors that put their money where their mouth is, camaraderie on the trail, unbelievable beautiful rivers, wondrous trails, this is trail running. This is the sport I love. Yes, it is hard, but wonderful. This race was the poster child for trail running. What I love is how modest the event coordinators were (this was the 8th year, its really low-tech, I guess that was why they were modest), and with that modesty I hope they saw what a wonderful little tribute to the sport they have created in Keene Valley. This is one of those event you want to promote…but then again maybe you don’t because if masses got ahold of this gem of a race, it might not be the same….. trail running at it’s finest.