By Scott Livingston
This year’s Traprock 50K had the inverse result from last year when Debbie finished strong and I was a DNF. Our entire family has suffered with illness during the past two weeks and Debbie was hit with the worst of it. She was hurting at the start of today’s 31 miler, and opted to end her race after only one lap. It was a smart decision with a long season of racing ahead, though it was disappointing for her to not get some “miles in the legs.”
This morning, when we arrived at Penwood State Park in Bloomfield, I was unsure how I would feel running for five hours, but I decided to just give it a go. I had a tough recovery week after last weekend’s flurry of outdoor activity, so there was no real rest before this one. I’ve also been battling some niggling injuries to my feet and legs. It’s a bummer to be feeling pain so earlier in the season, but that’s how it goes. I haven’t been comfortable in any shoes. I broke out a pair of new sneakers last night, but took the cautious route instead, and donned a well-worn pair.
My first lap was good, my second lap was worse, and my third lap was the worst, but I finished. The weather was perfect for running. It was still a tad chilly, especially when you were hit with the stiff breeze that blew through the leave-less trees. Still, the sun shone brightly and it was better than the snow we had earlier this week.
Traprock is one of our favorite races on the calendar. It was the second race in the inaugural Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. We have been at Traprock every year. In addition to this year and last year, we went to watch in 2012, both ran it in 2011, and Debbie ran the first one in 2010. The next series race is the 30th anniversary Soapstone Mountain Trail Race on the 18th of May.
The mostly dry trails that were clear of snow drew a lot of northern New Englanders to drive south for today’s event. The Welts/Folcik Gang came in from New Hampshire and promptly put their stamp on Traprock with Ryan winning overall (4:28:23) and Kristina crushing the women’s course record (4:51:15) in a fine display of running form. I ran the first lap with her before she dropped the hammer on me during lap two. Ouch. She was gapping me on most of the descents. I would claw my way back on the climbs, but she was just toying with me. When it mattered halfway into the run, she was gone.
The second man was Adam Wilcox in 4:33:42 and third was Michael Austin in 4:40:49.
Several Vermont friends came south too. Kelly Wilson joined us for a pre-race dinner last night. She was eager to run on something other than mud. Serena Wilcox and several other Burlington area friends also came to run. Even the New York trail community was represented this year by the Traprock perennial, Nikolas Rogers. The Shenipsit Striders are more local and it showed; our club had a strong contingent running with several other members lending support. Sean Greaney led all Striders with an excellent 7th place.
I got a nice custom Traprock logo towel for being the first Master runner across the line. Sometimes it pays to be 40+! My 5:13:23 was slower than my best on this course, but it was very good given my current condition and how I felt this week. The 6,000+ feet of elevation gain and loss is notable. This is a hard race.
Race Directors Steve Nelson, Kevin Hutt, and Marty Duchow led a fantastic team of volunteers. There were a record number of helpers today. The aid stations were stocked. I forgot my race fuel at home, so I carried plain water and took Gatorade and food (bananas, Fig Newtons, oranges, watermelon, and pretzels) from the neutral support. Other than my usual painful toes, my only mishap was a near disaster fall on the most rocky section of the trail. Instead, I caught myself, but cut a finger in the process. It was a bloody mess, but thankfully looked much worse than it was. No stitches needed.
Traprock is one of the more rugged courses around. Even the “road section” is brutal. To call the 40+ year-old asphalt a road is being generous. Years of neglect, frost heaves, potholes, cracks, weeds, and loose rock make it more treacherous than most of the trails. A few of those trails are veritable rock gardens with loose shale in abundance. Sections of this course really are a nightmare and for someone like me, they are best walked.
I’ll be looking for Debbie to run this one again in the future. I think my Traprock urge has been met. I wanted to finish one after failing in 2013, but I think I’m good for a few years (at least)! For now, I think I’ll use my Traprock pint glass to serve up a beer.