Moosalamoo Ultra and 14 Miler
Over the weekend I stepped out of my comfort zone of Obstacle Course Racing and back into the world of Trail Running. For the first time since the Peaks Ultra I took on a race without obstacles in the way, at least manmade ones. This race however I would take on the shorter distance, sandwiching this race in between two Spartan Races. On Saturday morning I made the trek about an hour from my house to Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen, Vermont. The same site as the Goshen Gallop I raced last year.
I arrived with time to spare and had time to mingle with friends, it seemed I knew about half the people in the race, everywhere I turned were friends. The thing I love about trail races is the low key nature of the races. We did indeed have some of the best trail runners in the region and some the country at this race and yet walking around you would never know. As the race start approached we all lined up behind the garden hose start line (did I mention trail races are more laid-back). John Izzo the race director gave us some final instructions and then we were all off.
We took off down the dirt road before turning onto the trail and heading up Moosalamoo Mountain. Nothing like the first couple miles of a race uphill to get the legs warmed up. I started off running with my friend Michelle Roy, the same Michelle who recently ran 370 miles of the Peak 500 in the spring and her boyfriend Bob, who is a skilled road runner and taking on his first trail ultra that day. I was thankful to run with them as the pace they set was perfect. We chatted as the first couple of miles clicked away. As the terrain took a steeper turn uphill we departed ways.
I soon would pass Chris Davis, who had started the race with Spartan Race founder Joe Desena and Death Racer Don Devaney. When I passed Chris he was traveling on his own but was still moving forward. I would see Joe and Don a mile or so up the trail, Joe carrying a 100lb sandbag and Don carrying a rock. I have crazy friends! As I passed Joe he told me Andy Weinberg was way ahead of me and he was hopping the whole course. Nothing like Joe’s motivational speeches, in truth they really do make me laugh and I did push a little further.
As soon as we reached the top of Moosalamoo we ran through a small clearing with a beautiful view of the mountains, honestly I missed most of it as I was stoked to see the downhill section of the course. It is the downhills where I shine, I found myself passing many competitors and leaping from rock to rock. I love running downhill, it makes the uphills worth it!
Along the way I tagged up with another racer named Liz from Boston, she was running her first ultra after running the Boston Marathon a few times. We enjoyed each others company and pushed each other in the woods. As we passed the second stocked aid station we each headed out on an out and back loop, 1 mile for the 14 milers and 3 miles for the Ultra runners. This seemed to be the longest one mile out of my life! As I saw the red plate indicating the turnaround for the 14-milers I gave Liz a high-five and told her I would see her at the finish.
As I checked in again at the aid station it was only a few more miles until the finish along a dirt road. As I pounded along the dirt road a few last big hills separated me from the finish line. I teamed up with another runner, Jennifer for the last mile and a half and we elevated each other to push a little harder to the finish. It was then that I found out our 14 Mile race was actually a 15 mile race. You have to love trail running and the bonus miles you often yet, I like to think of it as getting more for your money. As we passed the finish line just after 3:03 Jennifer and I hugged each other and thanked each other for the push.
As soon as we were handed our finisher medals we were asked our age. The whole race I had run not even thinking about a place position or age group position, I just ran. Quickly John Izzo came out and handed me the winning trophy for my age group. Later in the day I would find out that Jennifer and I ran in taking 3rd and 4th place for women in the race. I would also finish 13th out of over 50 competitors.
Did I mention this was my first half-marathon race ever. It was just one of those days where the stars seem to align and you just run a great race. I would spend the rest of the day cheering other competitors through the finish, along with another 4 – 5 miles of running to help bring in a couple other competitors. Overall, it turned into an almost 20 mile day. Thanks to John Izzo for putting on an incredible race!