Race: North Face 50 New York – https://www.thenorthface.com/get-outdoors/endurance-challenge/new-york.html
Runner: Matt U
Location: Bear Mt State Park, NY
Results – 14th, 8:14.32
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
- Weather was good, overcast and 50s.
- Easy to get into, didn’t have a waitlist, logistical challenges, or other hopes to jump through.
- Well run and organized.
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
- Holy cow there were a lot of rocks on that course!
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
- There were a lot of foreigners in the race. For a 50 in NY that doesn’t sell out, to have 8 Canadians ahead of me compared to only 5 Americans. Not a problem, but not what I’m used to.
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
- I kept things under control for almost the entire race and felt like I managed my race well. The only exception was from miles 45-48 when some of the rocky hills lead to some really slow miles. I pulled it back together over the final couple miles, but lost sub-8 in the last 10 miles. I ate well, I paced well, kept the HR around my target zone (145-155) and overall, had an enjoyable experience. I also didn’t get passed by anyone from mile 20 on.
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- Where tough shoes. The rocks are no joke on this course. I caught and passed a guy with a foreign accent late in the race and as I passed he said, “This course is ridiculously technical!” I can’t say it any better. My advice is to be ready for this and don’t waste energy on slow technical sections, but instead, save it for the runnable portions. There were some road components, both paved and gravel, that were fast. Manage the course well and don’t let the course piss you off, and your experience and race will be better.
Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
- Not pretty in the sense of views, but after a season of road racing, being on trails and in the woods was very enjoyable. The trails were wooded and rocky with a few road sections within the state park. Not the prettiest course, but still enjoyable.
Difficulty – is it a tough course
- Total vert according to my Garmin was 7,831’. This wasn’t the major difficulty component, but instead the often technical, rocky nature of the trail made for a difficult course. I’m coming from a Seattle, west coast perspective, where the trails are generally smoother. Having hiked the Appalachian Trail though, this course is way more like the AT than the PCT.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
- Excellent. I’m pleased with the North Face experience. Well done and easy.
Competition – is there a strong field?
- I’d say it was decent. I felt like I ran well and was handily beaten by 13 other guys, and by more than an hour by the winner. Timothy Olson was one of the only names on the list that I actually knew.
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.
- The major challenge was the early start, coupled with the requirement that we take a shuttle to the start. The race started at 5am and we had to be on the shuttles between 3:30 and 4:15am. We stayed in Brooklyn with a friend doing the race and we had to leave at 2:30am to get there in time. Doing this with a 5 month old child made for a unique day, and probably a bit more challenging than what we would have had with a slightly later start.
- Standard. I don’t typically use aid stations much but they were frequent (within ~6 miles each time) and apparently well stocked. I ate a couple bananas while my bottle was filled with Tailwind at a few of the aid stations. Otherwise, I carried my own PowerGel for the extent of the trip.
Weather and typical race conditions –
- It was great. Chilly at the start while standing around. No rain. Maybe got into the 60s, but overall the weather was a positive contributor to the racing experience.
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
- I wore a Salomon pack but this wasn’t fully necessary. I wasn’t able to have crew at most aid stations so carrying everything I needed was my best option. However, you could get by with a handheld or bladder, and the aid station goodies.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
- There were access points but Julie couldn’t drive our manual transmission rental, and she had Paavo to contend with – and we got him up at 2am for this race! Spectators are required to take the shuttle to the Start/Finish too which seemed like a hassle at first glance, but in the end, proved to be simple and convenient.
Awards – Top in age group got something. I was third in my age group so went home empty handed. All finishers got a medal.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
- 4 out of 5. It was well run and I have no complaints. It also isn’t an epic, awesome event like a Western States or the Boston Marathon. Good early season race and I’m happy it fit into my schedule.