A mucky (and snowy) one indeed.
Runamuck was my second 50k after the Vermont 50 last September [here]. Even though this was my first time running Runamuck, the course was very familiar since I have done many long runs through this beautiful area.
We got a surprisingly big dump of snow starting the afternoon before the race, turning the world back into a Feburary-era snowglobe. I hooked my Nanospikes onto my running pack, just in case.
The race starts from Suicide 6 ski area in Pomfret on Stage Road and the first 2.5 miles are along the paved road, which is only more annoying with the knowledge that I’ll have to run this again with more than a marathon under my belt to the finish line. After the paved section of Stage Rd, we hit the slushy mud section before turning left onto Lime Pond Rd where the hilly fun began!
The race director was parked at the intersection with Lime Pond warning people that the tire tracks were surprisingly slippery. Not being one to take a chance with traction, I took a second to put on my Nanospikes and headed on up, getting comments from everyone I passed on my smart choice to bring them. I suppose this is the home turf advantage?
Lime Pond Rd winds steeply up past beautiful farms and sweeping pasture. It was hiking time already. Until we hit a nice downhill section, where my spikes really helped me confidently glide.
At mile 6ish, we the course turned left onto Sayer Rd and we started our first “loop” (look at the map and you’ll see what I mean). There was a lot of climbing for the first miles, but then we got a long gradual downhill section to get refreshed, ending with an aid station around mile 12 on muddy Broad Book Rd.
Webster Hill didn’t disappoint with super slippery packed snow and a solid one mile climb to Skyline Drive (start of “loop 2”, mile 14), which then gently rolled until Allen Hill which was a solid downhill stretch for around 2 miles.
After a short stretch on paved Pomfret Rd, we turned onto into one of my favorite areas, hiking Dana Rd sharply uphill, and then turning onto Old Kings Hwy for even more steep up, and then finally down to Galaxy Hill Rd. Because one of the usual course roads was closed due to snow, we had a lovely out and back to the top of the hill on Cloudland Rd. At the turn onto Cloudland, was an aid station where I refilled my waters for the last time.
After the Cloudland section, I felt like I was home free, finally in the single digits of miles left. Galaxy Hill Rd was a pleasant downhill stretch, followed by a short up onto Webster Hill Rd, and then a much longer and steeper up until the close of the second loop and the steep (and not so slippery this time due to sun warming the snow) Webster Hill section down (mile 25).
There is a short and extremely muddy section of Sayer Rd to meet back up with Lime Pond and then the rest is just like the beginning.
It’s amazing how you can be running on slippery packed snow for miles, and then turn a corner and have mud you could sink into up to your ankles if you didn’t pick your next step carefully. It felt a bit like playing hopscotch running through it.
Lime Pond was a nice and easy (except for being slippery) downhill to Stage Rd, where the real mental challenge of the race was. It was a horrible last 3 miles on Stage Road, especially once I hit the paved 2.5 mile section due to the monotony and feeling close but not quite to the finish line. This is the one section where I wished I had headphones as having music to anchor on would have been helpful. I ended up counting strides to make the time go by.
When I was around .25 miles from the finish, I saw Cody waiting for me, hanging out with the race director, cheering me on. I can’t say this made me push any faster, but I was super happy to be close.
It was a very casual race overall – no real starting or ending line, no precise timers, no medals. But that was what was great about it. Pressure was off and everyone just had a good time. Most folks I talked to were from out of town, and most training for bigger and more high-profile races later in the season (myself included). And, according to my watch, I did end up beating my Vermont 50 time by a good 10 mins, finishing in 6:12:44.