2013 Great Adirondack Trail Run Race Report
This report is a bit late, but moving into a new apartment pushed things to the back burner.
Most runners will understand what I mean when I say that there are some races that you just fall in love with; that you would go back and run no matter what—whether you hadn’t run in months or were coming back from an injury—because there is something about that race that makes it special. The Great Adirondack Trail Race is that race.
The race benefits the Ausable and Boquet River Associations which “provides an educational opportunity for children and adults about [the] sensitive river ecosystems and gives…guests and locals alike a chance to enjoy the mountains, get some exercise and celebrate the spring and black fly season before the summer arrives and the trails get busy.”
Another great thing about this year’s race was that my friend Crystal and her husband Jeremy both ran it (her the 3.5m; him the 11.5m). It was nice to see them, and, as a bonus, she ran with Katie.
Conditions A gorgeous day; in the mid-70s; occasional clouds. Heavy rains a few days earlier had mostly dried up, but there were some severely muddy areas, notably on the downhill rocky/bouldery areas—this made for some tricky footing.
Course Runners take a school bus from The Mountaineer to the Baxter Mountain Tavern where you sign-in, get your # sharpie’d on your arm, and then walk down to the trail head. Runners line up and are let go every 30 seconds, ensuring that there isn’t any congestion on the trail. The quickly trail climbs for about a mile, levels off, then quickly descents down the backside of Baxter Mountain. The entire course is quite technical, but the descent requires careful concentration as it is quite rocky, rooty, and wet—some areas open up to allow for a faster pace. Eventually you exit the trail into some high grass, cross a field, and then hit the pavement section which runs about 3/4 of a mile. A quick trail section is next, and then you go across the Ausable River, and a hard right brings you back to The Mountaineer. It is a fun, quick, and challenging 3.5 miles of trail running.
Race – (Jon) Last year proved to be a very successful run: I finished 10th overall and 1st in my age group. This year I have been doing a lot of hill training and so my hope was to beat last year’s time. I set off from the start at a good pace and took the mile climb at a steady, constant clip. I wanted to push myself but not overdo it so much that I wouldn’t have enough energy on the descent. Passing runners as I climbed confirmed that I was making good progress and that my training had paid off.
As the trail leveled off I immediately picked up my pace along the descent—watching my footing I jumped over fallen trees, stepped around mud puddles, and hopped on and around boulders. When I came upon a runner I would let him or her know I was trying to pass, but some of the trail sections were narrow and too rocky to pass right away. I had to sit back and wait, lest things get a bit too dangerous…or lest I be jerk. (Both were undesirable.) At one point the trail flattened to a gradual downhill, the ground covering littered with pine needles—Katie and I had talked about this section (we love it) and I really tried to gain some time by pushing hard through it.
Eventually I exited into an area high grass—I knew I was getting closer to the finish—and then I hit the pavement section. While this part of the race lets you really get some speed, the pouding on your legs can be a bit much. I tried to turn my feet over faster and faster; I picked off one, two, then four runners—edging ahead of them as I knew that the pavement would end soon. When it did, and the road flattened out, so did my energy…my legs felt like jello; I tried to consciously keep my form together but I didn’t have much left to give.
The course turned left and headed towards the last section of trail: rolling dirt trail with a small (probably 5 or 10 foot) climb that seemed mountainous to my legs. Across a wooded plank bridge I pushed down the trail, yelling out to a couple walking their dogs who gratefully stepped aside to let me pass. I exited the trail and hit a small section of dirt road. Two runners were walking back towards me and they offered some congratulations on almost being done. Around a small bend in the trail, then a right over a bridge over the Ausable River—I clapped and waved at some children who were cheering with their mothers. Then it was a hard right, and a small pavement section towards the finish back at The Mountaineer.
I stopped my watch around 28 minutes, but my final time was 27:59—a good 4 minutes faster than last year. Tired and with sore legs, but a smile on my face, another great trail run in the books. Later I was a bit bummed to find that my faster time (and 7th place finish) only yielded second place in my age group; however I was really happy with my strength to ascend the first mile of trail and endurance to push through the downhill.
I enjoy this race so much, and I hope we can be back in the coming years. I talked briefly with one of the organizers, and he disclosed that he has had offers to put this race on Salomon’s Trail Series…to which he kindly declined. Keeping this race intimate, personal, and local is the chief goal, and I can only hope that The Great Adirondack Trail Race remains connected to those characteristics which make is such a great trail running experience.