In December I won a chance to run the Massanutten 100 so I started looking for semi-local ultras to use as long runs to help prepare. The Febapple 50 fit perfectly in my schedule to use as an early long effort, and would be my first official 50. Kym and I started the 2 hour drive at just after 4am. The weather forecast was 40s and rain all day and a light rain fell for the whole drive. It hadn't snowed in a week and the mild weather had melted it all. All except the snow on South Mountain in NJ. Somehow the trails were still largely covered in a thick layer of ice and snow. We arrived and I got dressed in the car and had just enough time to hear the RD's pre-run talk (which I should have paid attention to) and we were off. Knowing some of the others running, I settled in a smaller pack of about 4 off the lead pack which had about 10-15 guys. The first mile was on roads and then we took a quick 300-400 foot drop over the next half mile on a trail similar to those on the Horse Shoe Trail around here - small, somewhat loose rocks. A short flat stretch, then back up. I tried to keep a steady run up this whole big hill, but even the first time around ended up walking some of it. Several technical miles with several very icy spots followed back to end the first mini-loop to the start/AS area. The first 4 mile loop was about 25% covered in ice/snow and the second 6 mile loop was closer to 2/3rds covered. The second half was less technical, but the ice made the going a bit slower than I was hoping to run. I noticed some people wearing yaktraxs, but I feared that wearing them for too long would tear up my feet.
Slipping into mile 4 Aid Station
The course lollipops around mile 7 and mildly confusing trail markings and my stupidity of following the people in front of me, and my failure to listen to the RD's directions before the race lead to a 2.2 mile mistake when we turned right instead of left. I noticed this as I reached the 2nd Aid Station for the 2nd time in a row. Another runner in front of me, and the one I followed who was now behind me started to backtrack, picking up several others that made the same mistake. At least 8 runners did this on the first loop. It mentally crushed me for much longer than it should have. I also ran faster than I should have trying to make up that time, which surely hurt me in the long run. After my second full loop the ice and snow was bothering me enough to decide to put on my yaktraxs for the 2nd half of the race. Of course though before I put them on I had a nasty, feet above the head, cartoonish fall on the ice. Initially I thought only my right hand took the brunt of the fall, but a few days later when my left leg was the only thing still hurting, I realized the bruise on my hip was due to this fall. Once I put the yaktraxs on I cursed myself for not just wearing them the whole time. No feet issues, no slipping, and no prancing around trying to avoid the ice. At mile 30 I changed out of my wet shirt (as far as I can remember there was a light rain all day) and this made my outlook a lot brighter. I felt so much better being warm and dry, if only for a short period. When all was said and done I finished in 9:39 and in 8th place. Out of 40-50 that started, only 20 did the full 50 mile distance. The race has 50K, 20 mile, and 10 mile options that all start an hour apart and if you want to drop down, the RD allows you to just enter in that race's standings. When I finished up and was eating a little, the awesome volunteers pointed me towards a cooler of beer they had and offered me to help myself. Can't beat that. While leaving my house at 4am for a race isn't the most desirable thing, I'd definitely do this race again. The race and course are awesome (my Garmin measured 5500ft of gain, a friend's measured somewhere around 6700 ft of gain). The "swag" was a vest with the race logo. It's nice, but I always prefer a technical shirt to run in.