The Virgil Crest 50-Miler was on Saturday. I got up at 3 and left for the race around 4am. I got there at 5, picked up my packet and tried to relax for the next hour or so. I didn’t see too many familiar faces, but I did spot Ian (the race director) and Denis (the favorite in the 100-miler).
The race went off at 6:00 and we followed some torches around Hope Lake before entering the woods. The pace was modest, and I was glad that it didn’t start as a mad dash like at the Cayuga Trails 50. Over the first few miles, I alternated in the lead with a couple of other guys. The early miles just had some rollers and there wasn’t anything to string us out.
The early miles ticked off and about five of us were running smoothly. I recognized Silas Carey from Cayuga Trails 50, but the other guys were pretty much unknown to me. However, I knew they were probably some of the guys I had highlighted in my preview. I had jotted down some numbers on my hand before the race – 14, 17, 34 and 37. These were the big hills, and I knew they would cause some separation. Sure enough, as we hit the first ski mountain, Andy Vermilyea and Silas Carey went ahead and I fell into third place. By the time I reached the top of the mountain, they were out of sight.
I kept moving along – ascending and descending are not my strong points, and I wanted out of this section ASAP. By mile 20, I had my rhythm back and I was pushing to the turnaround. Andy passed me coming back and I could tell that he was going to win. Sure, there were 25 miles to go, but he clearly wasn’t going to give up the lead. I passed Silas a few minutes later and he didn’t look nearly as strong at that point. I knew I was close to the halfway mark and I began plotting my move. I hit the halfway mark and was greeted by Tim Hardy (race director of the Green Lakes Endurance Runs). I didn’t stay long, and I felt energized with some very runnable single-track in front of me.
I started passing runners coming in the other direction, and it was nice to exchange words of encouragement. I was running well and I knew that I had to be closing on Silas. Finally, on one of the uphills, I spotted him. He was still a couple of minutes in front of me. Unfortunately, we were approaching the ski mountains once again.
This part was a little confusing for me. Going into the aid station at 34.1 miles, I was getting passed by Denis Mikhaylov (en route to his 100-mile victory). I left the Hurt Locker feeling okay, but I glanced back down the mountain and saw someone gaining on me. As he got closer, I realized it was Silas. At some point, I passed him and moved into second place. Unfortunately, it was short lived. My splits for miles 36 and 37 were not good enough. I was okay for 38 and 39, but then the wheels started to come off the bus.
At one point, I missed a turn and I ended up running an extra three quarters of a mile or so. I was pretty much reduced to run/walking for the last 10 miles. People started passing me every now and again. It was frustrating, but my legs didn’t have a response.
I really appreciated the encouragement from Sebastien Roulier (second in the 100-mile race) and Fan Zhou, who told me to just get to the finish so we could drill some beers. Next time we cross paths, Fan, I’m holding you to that!
I was greeted at the finish line by my parents. They surprised me and made the trip. So a shout-out to them, Ian, Sebastien, Fan, Brandy, Joe, Tim, Megan and anyone else I may have forgotten. Running fifty miles is hard. It’s even harder when it turns into 51.3 miles. I’m not sure if I’ll be back at Virgil Crest or not. Probably. Maybe. Ask me again in two weeks.
Denis Mikhaylov and Jade Mills finished first in the 100-mile race. Full results are available here.
Andy Vermilyea and Corbett Wicks finished first in the 50-mile race. Full results are available here.
Cole Crosby and Laura Perry finished first in the 50k race. Full results are available here.
In the meantime, I’ll be getting ready for Mendon Ponds 50k. I believe it is the last event in the Western New York Ultra Series and it should be a good one!
Over the course of this week, I will be posting additional comments/reviews of some of the equipment I used during the race (shoes, watch, hydration vest, etc.). Stay tuned!
How was your weekend? Did you race?