Two years ago, T and I were looking for a 50 mile trail race to run. Somehow I stumbled on the SRT 50. T had never run a 50 mile race, and I had done the JFK 50 twice. We both signed up at the last minute the Wednesday before the race. I figured it would be harder than the JFK 50, but that all the “slow” times in the results must be due to inexperienced runners…. I told my wife I would be home for dinner the next night and TIm and I headed out at 2am to make the bus to the start. We started at 6:00 am, and 16+ hours later, T and I were schooled in the way of the SRT. I did not make it home for dinner. I don’t even think I made it home at all that day! It was the hardest most amazing race I had ever run. We got lost, we got dehydrated, we had hallucinations, we climbed mountains, we saw the sunrise, we saw the sunset. We were hooked! The next year we returned to run the entire SRT trail with the 70 mile race. T won one of the coveted tomahawks, and I finished the course in about 22 hours (2017 race report)
Well this year I ran Leadville 100 a mere four weeks before the SRT races. I was on the fence about running the 70, but at the end of the day I decided to run “just” the 30. J, T and I all signed up at the last minute as usual. It was going to be a fun time and it seemed like a good year to try the 30. I was curious to see if the trails were more runable without 20 or 40 miles in your legs. I made sure to upload the course into my Garmin watch the night before. Seems that Garmin has a bug now and won’t load the GPX tracks. I ended up loading my 70 mile tracks which were in the Garmin format. The only problem was that those tracks came complete with all my wrong turns from the previous year….
The 30 has a very civilized start at 9:30 in the morning with the bus leaving from the finish at 7:30, meaning we could leave Clifton Park at 5:45. Early but not crazy early. The Clifton Park sandal runners made it to the bus with time to spare. At the start I saw a young runner posing for a picture for a person I assumed correctly was his mother. I photobombed him, and said hello. He told me this was his first ultra race. I then said, you do realize what kind of race this is? You are going to get lost. He mother’s eyes widened, and I said, don’t worry he will find his way. Make sure you have the map on your phone and pay attention, and when you get lost, find your way back.
The 30 had about 60 runners and started in four waves. J, T and I were in the last wave. I figured I would try and stick with them for a while and see how it went. As we were waiting for our wave to start, I loaded up the 70 mile course on my Garmin. I did that a bit too early because before the race started the watch went to sleep. Suddenly it was time to go. I started the load process again and started running at the same time. After a 10th of a mile, the course loaded on the watch. Then it started flashing and going crazy on me. Yikes, what a way to start the race. I thought oh no I have loaded bad tracks and I won’t have navigation or possibly even a working GPS. After a minute or so it stopped going crazy and started to work. Of course by this time, T and J were now well ahead, and I was on my own.
I passed a bunch of folks on the hill and settled into a decent pace with a couple of runners right behind me. We passed a few more folks on the single track, but no sign of J and T. The two guys were from the NYC area and one of them ran a mile or so with me last year while I was running the 70. Although the trails were more runnable without the extra miles, they are still extremely technical with rocks all over them. I got the feeling that I was doing one of those tire agility courses.
I stayed with my NYC friends for maybe 10 miles or so. We eventually caught up to R one of the 70 mile runners who runs in vibram five fingers. I stopped to cheer him on and give him a hug of encouragement. My downstate friends moved ahead at that time. I could hear them now and again as I moved forward so I don’t think they were that far ahead.
At some point I realized my water bladder valve was leaking and realized I was totally soaked. It may have helped to keep me cool. I was a little worried about running out of water so I started drinking less, and I managed to mostly stop the leaking by putting the valve up high.
Next stop was Castle Point. I came across Z a 70 mile runner sitting on the side of the road. I asked about T and was told he had passed a while ago. Z was looking pretty beat and it seems from checking out his strava after the race that was where he headed off course and home. This was the same place that I missed the trail last year in the 70 so I was a bit worried about it. I knew I would not go as far astray as last year, but sure enough I had some trouble. At the top of the rock climb there were some cyclists who asked if I was running the SRT. I said yeah, and then one of them kept insisting I was going the wrong direction.
Well, a little more doubt was all I needed to miss the turn for a second year in a row! Also, the tracks in my GPS had the error in them as well. As I was coming back up the hill I saw a couple of other SRT 30 runners heading my way. Hey guys, I’m lost can’t find that stupid turn! They showed me where it was, and it was so obvious. I made some good time on the next set of downhills. At the waterfall, I ran into Leo Guerra from Brazil running the 70. He recognized me from my race report on the 70 last year, and inspired me to get this report done.
I ran alone for the next stretch until I reached the Coxing Kill parking area checkpoint. I passed a runner in the parking area, and saw Dick Vincent the Escarpment RD who was coaching/cheering the 70 mile female winner. The trail continues up a double wide path for a few miles until you have to make a left turn. I was happy to see a runner at the turn. He actually had just stopped there for some reason and did not realize it was a turn. I helped him with the turn and we talked a bit, and he said he would not try to stay with me. The next part was a smooth downhill and nice trail.
During the climb up to the final checkpoint, I passed one of the guys from NYC that I had been running with earlier. Once I reached the checkpoint, I was told that I was only minutes away from third place! I was totally confused. I had only passed two runners since the start of the race, and I had the feeling that there were a bunch of people ahead of me. I hustled a bit more and eventually came across T who had a broken but mended sandal slowing him down.
I moved into 3rd place, and the next runner I came across was the third place 70 miler and second place Ben in the 70 miler. I then proceeded to make several early right turns saving Ben the effort each time. Next I passed an older women (78 years young) finishing up the 13 mile race, very impressive!
I made my way down the last hill, and crossed the bridge making my way to the finish. I had conserved so much water I think I finished with almost a liter left. I really was the 3rd runner to finish the 30. J had won the coveted tomahawk, and the other guy from NYC had come in second. I am still not sure where/when/how I passed 50+ other runners. I ran alone for at least 5 hours without seeing anyone. I figure the SRT swallowed them up and I passed them while they were off trail.. Maybe some space time anomaly.
After the race I checked the results for the young guy running his first ultra and found he had DNF’e. I searched his name on facebook and found this post:
“So, yesterday I toed the line at my first ultramarathon, a 30 mile race in NY. I’ve been working towards this for months, running when I wish I didn’t have to. Short story is that I was having an incredible race: beautiful scenery and weather, great company, and a feeling of physical adrenaline and challenge I’ve not felt in years. Well, about 10-12 miles in, I realize that I went off-course (notorious in this race, with no race markings and a confusing trail system). By the time I made it back to the actual course, at mile 3, I had already run 16 miles, with 27 now to go. I broke down, devastated. I went back to the starting line to get picked up”
That explains how I passed one person.
All in all, it was another great day on the SRT, I shall return. If you are looking for an awesome adventure, look no further the SRT races have it all.