The Twisted Branch 100k was on Saturday. Twisted Branch is a challenging, point-to-point trail race that begins in Naples, New York and ends in Hammondsport, New York. The race is officially 64 miles with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain. The race starts at 4am and there is a 20-hour cutoff.
I got up at 1:45am on Saturday (ouch?!) and started to get ready for the race. It was early, but by 2:30am, people were milling about and thinking about the challenge ahead. Eventually, I meandered over to the start line, and I saw several familiar faces. I didn’t think the race would go out too fast because it was wet and slick.
I dropped into fourth place and ran comfortably near course record holder Jim Sweeney. However, around mile 4, I wasn’t climbing well, and I let the group (and some others) go. At some point, I linked up with Phil Nesbitt. I have raced with Phil before, and we ended up covering about 20 miles together at Twisted Branch.
Let me back up a moment. In the early miles, while I was running with Phil, it started to pour. Not a sprinkle. Not a shower. Biblical. The trails turned into streams and everything required that much more focus.
About three hours in, at the third aid station, I realized I was feeling pretty good! I started moving up a bit, and I was getting into a nice rhythm. The next section had some ankle deep water, as well as some legit creek crossings. Because of the rain, they were raging!
Fast forward to mile 40 – this is where things got really fun! At this point, I’m solidly in 4th place. 3rd place is 11 minutes in front of me and 5th place is 3 minutes behind me. The amazing #TrailsRoc crew is running the aid station, and they get me psyched for the next few miles. I’m ready to start picking things up!
At the next aid station, Mile 46, I’m only 9 minutes back of 3rd place. At mile 50, I’m still 9 minutes back. Time to make a move. The next section is right in my wheelhouse. Perfect singletrack through beautiful forests that you can really open up on. At mile 55, I’m 6 minutes back of 3rd. Meanwhile, I’m 8 minutes in front of 5th.
I loaded up at the aid station hoping I wouldn’t need to stop at the final one. I hammered this section, and at mile 58, I was less than a minute out of 3rd. For the first time in hours, I saw Eric Kosek right in front of me.
At this point in the race, there are 6 miles left. Long story short, you run up 1,000 feet of vertical and then you wind down switchbacks for the last few miles. And then you’re done.
Unfortunately, this is where the exciting part of the story ends. After spending hours (literally) trying to catch Eric, he broke me in about one minute on the final climb. My legs were jelly, and it was a tedious climb to the top. I turned in my slowest mile of the day by over five minutes (21:31). With that being said, the race wasn’t over yet. I got my butt moving again, and recovered well for the descent.
I finished 4th overall in 12:13:05.
Full results are available here. Big shoutout to Jim Sweeney who took the win and ran even faster this year than in ’17. Another shoutout to Emeline Lagache who took first in the women’s race.
I’m incredibly happy with my run. I’ve only averaged 49 miles/week this year, so a course like Twisted Branch is no joke. The race was extremely well organized. The volunteers were amazing (mind you, some of them were standing in the rain for hours!). I really can’t say enough good things about the race. Finally, what a stunning section of trail!!
Next race: TBD