Runner: Thomas D
Race Date: 11/02/2019
Location: Cornwall, NY
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2835896790
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
1. The course was gnarly and a lot of fun
2. The views were pretty spectacular
3. The people who put on the race were awesome
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
1. I was a little confused with the course markings at first
2. Communication issue w/ the pre-race email
3. Not trying to be the math police here, but I am fairly confident that 25k is more than 13.5 miles… just sayin’
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
West Point Military academy is nearby, so for a solid part of the race you can hear active gun shots echoing in the distance.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
The weather was great for this one, perfect fall day in upstate NY. The leaves were in full color-mode and everything was beautiful. The course was a lot fun and quite challenging. The post race food was great as well.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
This race is limited in the number of participants due to parking permit limits with the park. This means there is a strong cap and you should sign up early if you wish to partake in this gem of a race, which you should. Check out the Newburgh Brewery post race (or pre and post race if you please)! It is a beautiful space, the beer is great, and it has great food (FISH TACOS!!!).
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
I got to the aid station around mile ten where I met a charming pair of humans, and we got to chatting about the course. I mentioned that it was a little wet, but that I was really enjoying it and it wasn’t too slippery. To this, the male human replied something to the effect of, “oh, you’re lucky it is wet, if the leaves were dry they’d be as slick as sheets of ice.” Contemplating this, I thanked the duo, finished my Gatorade and set off to tackle the final few summits. Unbeknownst to me, this coincided with the moment in the day when the sun had been out long enough to dry out all the leaves on the remaining stretch of course. I was slipping and sliding all over the rest of the course. It was wild. I was very fortunate to encounter those humans. The lesson that dry leaves are the slippery-est is one I won’t soon forget.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
This race squeezes over 3,000 feet of climbing into “25k” and the downhills are as steep as the climbs so I don’t think I made much, if any, time up going downhill as they were all somewhere on the spectrum of steep to scramble. I got lucky with the amazing weather, apparently last year is was pouring rain and racers were racing uphill in flows of waist deep water in some parts. This sounds wild to me and I plan on doing this race continually until I get to see something like this. As usual, if it is upstate NY in fall, you can expect the weather to be unpredictable at best.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Yas!!! It is scenic and beautiful. There are breathtaking views and the foliage was top notch. Highly recommend suffering thru this one.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
I found the climbing to add a very enjoyable degree of difficulty. My goal was to go slow and enjoy this one (stop take pictures, enjoy the views, and whatnot). This race was perfect for that because it was tough and you could really challenge yourself if you were trying to crush it. Also, the fallen leaves were just deep enough to hide the majority of the ankle hungry rocks and roots that dwell on the course. So that added a few points to the difficulty scale as well.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
So overall yes, but there were some hiccups. First hiccup, this was the first race where I did not receive a pre-race email. I found this wildly odd and questioned if the race had been canceled or what may be going on. I figured I was gonna show up regardless and if it wasn’t going down I would just run in the woods anyway. I was slightly nervous because I wasn’t sure if there were gonna be course markers and I had forgotten to print the turn by turn directions. Sure enough I got there and there was an amazing race to be had; and, to my relief the course was marked. My partner was doing some hiking and hanging around while the race was going down and she overheard the people running the race talking about the lack of email. Turns out that the guy who runs it was super busy with his day job and forgot to send it. I get it, it took me two weeks to find time to write this report. No big deal.
Second hiccup was that it took a while for me, and presumably a large portion of the other runners, to figure out the course marking strategy. The course markers (they were a white and black checkered pattern and so easy to see), were very far apart in some places. What I eventually realized was that the markers were only at places where you needed to turn unexpectedly or switch to a different trail. In between the markers, you have to follow the blazes of the trail you are on. So it could be you see a marker, run two miles on the blue trail and use the blue blazes, see a marker turn onto the white trail, follow white blazes, and so on and so on. When I realized this it made the remaining race markings easy peasy to follow. This seems to be what caused a bunch of runners to get lost and run in the wrong area or miss the loop that started around mile 7 completely.
In retrospect, both of these things reminded me that part of what I love about trail running is the adventure and it is ok to not have my hand held from start to finish, and it is ok to get lost, and it is ok to not know everything in advance, as long as you show up and have fun doing it.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Field seemed pretty strong to me. I finished 32nd out of 62 racers so there were equal people in each direction and I was about an hour behind the finisher so there was more than enough competition for me. Rumor on the street is that everyone who finished before me missed that loop at mile 7 but that may be #fakenews 😉
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
You must register early, space is limited. Follow their facebook page for updates.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Water and Gatorade and good conversations. I don’t remember any food on course, but the foot at the end was dope! Cans of seltzer water, muffins, some assorted fruits, pretzels, chips, and like three different types of pasta. It was great.
Weather and typical race conditions
Crisp fall day in upstate NY. It had rained a few days earlier so there were some streams and puddles. Mud and leaves were prevalent.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Nope, just wear the appropriate clothes to keep warm and you will be great.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
As long as they are in the car with you it can be. There is a limit to the amount of cars allowed so you can’t have your fans arriving on their own.
How’s the Swag?
Cotton t-shirt was nice. I liked the design. Got a cool sticker w/ the design as well.
The “medal” was real cool, it was made out of wood and had the design burnt into it.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
It’s near a nine star out of ten for me. The inconveniences were trivial and everything else was near perfect. I may make this race a yearly tradition.