Kanawha Trace 50k in the books!

Let me start this by saying how I originally had visions of a 6 hour +/- finishing time for this event… until I began the “2nd half” of the course that is. Course descriptions had the first half as the tougher half… not so my friends, not so at all! The second half was 10 times harder, at least in my book. Lots of tough steep climbing and technical stuff… and LOTS of gravel road/ jeep road stuff, which really became a drain on my psyche. So here goes…
Got started a bit late, around 7:45 am and had a nice easy mile and a half or so approach up to the first trail section, this contained a bit of up and down, under Rte 35, and along for a few more miles, pretty uneventful. Then the road section, lasting about 4 to 5 miles give or take, to what I consider the first real AS, even though there was a little water AS a couple miles in to the race. I was feeling really good, nice and smooth, miles ticking by with what, in my opinion was a little too much road for my taste. Fast forward to the “half-way”, which was actually just a mile and a half or 2 miles beyond the true half way point. I was feeling pretty good, fueling up and no stomach issues, etc… doing fine on hydration for the most part. I opted to change my shoes along with my socks and refill my pockets with gels, and off I went. Took longer than I should have at the AS, but it’s not like I was running for the win or anything, so no big deal. Off I went after the pair of runners that I was more or less within pretty close proximity for the previous few miles, then I caught them and was following along as we lost the course for a few mins… then back on track and up a few little climbs and over the fence into the “bull field”, then off the course again… Thoroughly frustrated, I decided to turn back and pick up the course once more deciding not to follow anyone else… and pay better attention to avoid any more lost time. There were a handful of places that I think the course could have been supplemented by the organizers with extra markers to make the course a bit clearer… after 20 miles or so, things get a little tough to process at times and more defined markers would help this. I heard some anecdotal talk of a few people getting slightly lost out there… nothing too bad for me though. So as I plodded along, I was totally and thoroughly regretting my change of shoes. I had my LaSportiva Crosslite 2.0’s on earlier and changed into my Mountain Masochist’s… the Crosslite’s were just so much more comfy and stable feeling.. maybe it was just the state of my feet at that particular time? Anyways… AS 5 was great.. 9.5 miles left, the AS workers there were the best of the race in my mind, very positive and helpful to all of us, and from here it was a total slog into the last AS (during this stretch I really started hurting and got passed by about 5 people), then I was lucky enough to be able to pick up a rose for Cory’s wife Ami for their anniversary, top off the water bottles and head out for the final stretch. One more person passes me, and the final lonely few miles to the finish line that seemingly would never come to me! I mention the people that passed me because at the time I honestly thought I was in the 30-35th place range, and I was discouraged because I felt like I was falling apart and losing all sorts of spots. I wanted to finish in the top half at least… that was my goal. So when I crossed the line in 7:05 and 16th place I thought to myself how much higher placed I was than I ever thought was realistic. Imagine if I had not dropped those other places… hah! Tough, tough, tough course, hats off to Cory and his team of volunteers and boyscouts.. I plan to be back next year, better prepared and now knowing how tough the course is.. ready to tackle it head on! Thanks to all of you hard-nosed runners too for a great day of tough running!

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5 Responses to Kanawha Trace 50k in the books!

  1. pink panther aka Lisa Vorwerk says:

    I pre-ran sections 1-4 of this trail and during those runs I worked out any confusions on turns. I even laid out a few trees in a large x marking on section 3 to help folks stay correct. Al in all I was only lost for about 5 min in the bull field and for 20-25 mins up on top in front of the fencing with al of the caution tape all over it. I had been running about a 7 hour pace for a long time then I really bogged down in the last 9 miles. I ran a rock in my shoe for 4 miles. I just refused to lose anymore time. My aid station transitions were fast but you could tell which AS had people who had worked races in the past. AS 5 had a veteran runner working it. I should have ran in no later than 7:45 since I was within 2 miles by 7:15 but. …. I finished 8th female/ 1st place masters and 8 never rode in aa car once! Can’t wait to get home to the Arkansas Ultra Runners Association and I invite everyone to come down to AR for an ultra soon!

    • vcsnover says:

      Good work out there Lisa! You are so right about the AS folks, after you do a couple of these you start to recognize the folks that have been there and are a little more tuned into what we need! With that said, I tip my hat to ALL of the AS workers and other volunteers that made the day possible. Thanks! Also, Lisa, let us know about that ultra… I’m up for a trip to Arkansas… I have run some down there while on military orders and it’s a lot like here, great trails!

  2. Lisa Vorwerk says:

    Oops, had a few typos up there. Meant to say I didn’t ride in a car once not 8 although there were than 8 who did.

  3. Tony Mollica says:

    Nice run! Way to persevere!

    As a directionally challenged trail runner; I think you can never have too many trail markers! I love a lot of confidence markers; so I am not running worried. You are absolutely correct about the mind after about twenty miles. I think that sometimes it is hard for the RD to know how many markers to put out because he/she is usually from around there and knows the course a lot better than the out of town/state people. It’s kind of like proof-reading something you wrote. It’s hard to do because you know what it is supposed to say.

    Super nice place for your struggles! I like your attitude about next year! I missed this race because Buckeye Trail 50K was on the same day.

    • vcsnover says:

      Thanks for the kind words Tony.. next year will surely be even better. A few improvements and likely a larger turnout will make the race more exciting and fun. Cory and his team did a good job on the race, and what’s an ultra without a little bit of the unknown, right!? Hope to see you next year, and also at the Frozen Sasquatch this winter!

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