Bear Mountain 50 Mile – The North Face Endurance Challenge Goretex 50 M – May 04, 2013

So, if you read the previous post you know already the pre-race situation and all the eveants that leading up to it.

My swallen foot just a few days before the race

My swallen foot just a few days before the race


After Doctor Minara’s visit, Michelle and I headed back to CT to pick up my gears.
We drove to the Bear Mountain Bridge Motel (clearing some heavy traffic on 287, and eventually opting to go through Peekskill), checked into our room, inspected the start line and operations that The North Face was setting up, and went for some good mexican food in the area.

Start/Finish Line the night before

Start/Finish Line the night before


No, I am not drinking beer. There is black pepper inside the Corona

No, I am not drinking beer. There is black pepper inside the Corona

Once we got back in our room after dinner, I filled up my drop bags and got everything ready for the early morning in Bear Mountain.
We slept realitively well, maybe only missing a little more extra sleep, but overall it was a pleasurable night.

We got up incredibly early, I think around 3:00am, went across the street to get a coffee, made some quick breakfast (slice of bread with nutella for me, slice of bread and almond butter for Michelle), picked up all our things and drove to the start line.
We made it there pretty early, to the point that after we parked inside the lot before volunteers I was a bit concerned they could have kicked us out and made us drive down to Anthony Wayne. Well, it did not happen, got lucky for once.

Early morning in Bear Mountain

Early morning in Bear Mountain

A few runners started getting there around 4:15-4:30, transported from A. Wayne with the official shuttle service. At that point I walked towards the crowd, and felt the need to use the porta-potty, before getting any line. That’s when I discovered why runners (probably experienced) were walking around with a headlamp when heading to the bathroom: at 4:30am it is way too dark to see what business you are conducting inside there. Lesson learned: I’ll bring the headlamp with me next time.

While walking around the tents more people started crowding the area and a couple of known characters popped out. I saw Stephen England, I saw Jordan McDougal, and other faces that I saw in the photos from the previous year event.
I’ve seen Stephen a few times before, running in Central Park, I saw him at the Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon in 2012, and I saw him at the Febapple crashing the course on his 20mile chase. He even joined WS once for a short run together, escorted by Gary.
I never spoke to him personally, but he is one of those people that appear nice, and are actually even nicer than what they look like. I have followed his stories on his blog (http://rundiabetes.com/tag/team-novo-nordisk/) and after dropping the chance to run Leadville last year, I noticed Stephen was in the entry list and got very passionate about following his adventures.
I thought this was a good chance to talk to him during the race, if I was anywhere close to his positions.

The atmosphere was great, many runners were gathering towards the start, some were still awaiting by the fires near the tents to warm up their bodies in this relatively cold and a bit humid morning.

The speaker invited the first wave to line up near the start line reminding everybody else that the second wave was going to take off 2 minutes later.

This aspect upset me a bit: I wanted to take off with the big dogs, I wanted to see for a few miles how they run, how they approach the hills, the rocky course, when and how often they drink, etc. But I couldn’t, because I had to take off 2 minutes behind. I know I am not as good as they are. I know they are way faster than me; still, I wanted to see them in action, live, by my side.
I worked hard the first 3 miles to catch up at least with the tail end of their group and probably paid later on the effort of running a few sub 8min/mile so early, but I was glad I did. It was my strategy anyway to run strong at the beginning: not knowing if my foot could hold up for a long time, I wanted to cover as much ground as I could with no pain.

I picked up a few runners and I saw Nikki Kimball after 2 miles. Wow. It was such a feeling to see an elite next to me. I looked at her, and I stopped running almost. Then I told her, very respectfully, “Nice to meet you Nikki”; she looked at me, smiled, and said Hi. She probably thought “here is another idiot that blasts the first 3 miles and then drops out”, I know this was in her mind. I totally get it.
I kept going and after a few short climbs I was on my way down to A. Wayne aid station, where I noticed the familiar stride of another runner. I was not 100% sure, but I recognize the stride, it was stuck in my mind, but I could not connect it to a face or an event. I’m the type of person that has a good memory for these things, and I can recognize easily a runner by their cadence, by the way the swing their arms, their stride, etc.
I was not mistaken, I knew that person, I just needed a confirmation. I got closer, just before the aid station, on a short downhill gravel road, and after looking at the guy I told him: “Hey, you are the Febapple guy; you kicked my ass in that 50k”. He looked at me a bit confused, and then recognized me. It was Ryan. Oh my god. I was near Ryan. We run a few hundred feet and got to the station, where I got some water real quick and took off with him.
I felt a bit confused at the aid station. Usually after 3 miles or so I do not need to take water, liquids or food, but knowing that this would be a long day I preferred to get a quick glass of water. As I turned around and took off I completely forgot my drop bag was there…see ya…I’ll meet “her” again 37 miles after.

Running with Ryan just before A. Wayne

Running with Ryan just before A. Wayne


Chatting more about Febapple

Chatting more about Febapple


As Ryan and I take on the little paved section that brings us to the Harriman State Park section, I notice another runner just in fornt of us.
Did he pass us at the aid station? Was he there at the aid station and I did not realize? Well…it does not matter: it is not dark anymore already and it was time to resume a real 50mile race pace rather than an all out sprint to catch up with the top runners.

I get a bit closer to the runner I previously spotted, Ryan follows me closely and I noticed some “head to toe” Salomon dudes coming up fast, way too fast behind us. I was not worried about them, I was more interested in the runner in front of me.

Once I got closer I recognized him: it was one of the local idols, Stephen England. The guys is amazing, not just as a runner, but especially as a person. As I said I never talked to him personally, maybe just a few words at the end of the Febapple when he was at the finish line with Ryan; I only exchanged a few emails, and fb messages, but he seemed one of those approachable people that gives you a feeling of warm brotherhood when you engage them in a conversation.
Stephen is not just an accomplished runner, he is a Leadville 100 finisher, and a person that is doing something great in life. If you need inspiration, check out his blog, because it is a piece of art: http://rundiabetes.com/

As I reach him, Stephen stepped on the side, to let me pass, and he seemed a bit ticked off by all the runners passing us so early. I told him I was not going to pass him: I actually thought I was going out too fast if I was around two legends like Ryan and Stephen. I followed him, got on top of the little hill before the downhill section that was bringing us to Seven Lakes Drive. The three of us talked a bit about the course, our experiences here and Stephen shared his goal: had I been able to stick with him I could have run a sub 9 hour 50 mile; at my first attempt for the distance. Certainly it was an appealing goal. I was thrilled.

More fancy runners blasted through the paved section we were climbing and this is where I heard one of the funniest comments coming from a runner (Stephen) who was clearly not worried about other, but was focused only on his goal and his race: “The people that are ahead of me right now are either faster than me, or stupidier than me”. Clearly the last 5-10 people that passed us were much more stupid than the three of us. I’m not sure how they finished, but we picked them up a few miles after, already consumed and almost done for the day.

The three of us turned together into the trails again and we were talking about our race strategies, how Ryan did not know the course nad how Stephen and I suggested to keep something in the bag for the last 6-7 miles, because they will be real hard.
I told them that my race was a great question mark due to this funny left foot, and my strategy was to run as much as I could early on, when the entire body was functioning: fresh legs at mile 40 paired up with a bad foot will not bring me far.

Stephen kind of agreed, but I think he thought it was a bit of a suicide to push the pace early. After 10-15 minutes of uphill trail we made a right turn and I gained a few feet. I was now following another dude that just passed us, and I forgot about Ryan and Stephen for a couple of minutes.

The dude imploded no more than 3 minutes after that and I found myself alone. At this point I felt stupid stopping and waiting. I decided to keep up with my strategy and I kept going along the yellow trail leading to Silvermine.
Usually I run very fast this downhill section full of loose rocks, and I love to float on the bigger rocks that from the lake brings us to the parking lot. Not this time. I did not float too much; I was only running smart hoping not to hit my weak spot under the the left foot.

Cautiously attaching the rocks near Silver Mine, thinking that the foot needs to stay relaxed

Cautiously attaching the rocks near Silver Mine, thinking that the foot needs to stay relaxed


On my way to Silver Mine

On my way to Silver Mine

I did not spend too much time at Silvermine, I was feeling good, I just had more liquids and a bit of bread with jam and off again towards the Long Path.

The long section of unmarkedtrail till the connection with the Long Path was ok, I pushed a bit the pace, found a fellow runner that was working on some blisters on the side of the trail, ran uphill and enjoyed the nature around me. I was feeling great, and confident that the day was going to be a success. I ran, sometimes power-walked the hills, but I was keeping a tremendous pace. I was feeling pleased with the effort.

Arden Valley was next, even if I got the first bad surprise of the day just before that. Having trained a lot in Bear Mountain, I knew the station was just a few hundred meters once we reached the flats. Too easy: for some reason the course now diverted and made a hairpin turn to the left and made us do some climbing adding probably another half mile that I never explored before.
No big deal, I knew this could have happened as it did the year before for the Half.

At the aid station I made sure I filled up my bottle, my hand carried blatter, had plently of liquids and a couple of sandwiches before leaving. I looked back, but I could catch any sign of my previous runner mates S&R. I knew they would have caught up with me just a bit later, making fun of me for going out too fast.

The next section was fairly long, about 7 miles with a very deceiving first part (it is quite difficult to follow the marked course along the Long Path for about a mile or so), runnable but tricky and at least two steep climbs before reaching Skannatati Aid Station.
Also there were some nice flat sections where I always feel like I wanna run there with my arms wide open, touch all the leaves and branches around me and caress them softly as I pass by. It is a joyful moment for me.
And…there is the best and worst section of the race: after ascending on smooth huge rocks along the Lichen and Dunderberg Trail you can admire famous 360 degree views that are really astonishing. I could not do it this time. It was getting sunny and hot, and it was not a good idea to stand around right on those rocks (nice place for snackes as well…I did see a huge one just 10days before in that area). I did feel some minor cramps on my hamstrings in the early miles, and I had been able to keep them under control till now. Once I made the left turn into the Dunning (yellow) trail, I felt some sharp hits again.
Not a problem – I tried to convince myself. I have a nice section now where I can run at a decent pace, with not many isses of footing, and stretch out my legs a bit.

WRONG!!

Cruising downhill, after a quick left, and a quick right a cramp came up again, and unable to keep the stride going, I had only one option left: falling. First (and not last) hard fall of the day. I picked myself up a bit embarassed, but I was still all in one piece, no scratches, my hand was saved by the blatter and glove i was carrying (already almost empty at this point) so I kept going again, trying to stretch the muscles while running.

Just before Skannatati I recognized two spectators: Tom (Bud) the ANIMAL and our friend Rob Preti. I realized a few miles earlier that carrying the headlamp till that point was unecessary, and I wanted to ditch it. Perfect timing. I threw it right at them and reached my first full buffet of the day.

I stopped there at mile 21 for about 3-4 minutes, I took my time and got plenty of liquids, plenty of food, stocked on gels and also stretched well the hammies before re-starting again.

Now I had to face a relatively simple section to Camp Lanowa. No big hills, not super difficult footings or rocky terrains, but the heat was on, and 20+ miles were already logged.I caught up with two other runners and we kept a nice pace till we heard some quick steps behind us at mile 24/25.

It was the lead woman, Ashley Moyer, coming up strong. I felt I wanted to keep up with her, she was running well, and now the group became a 4people unit. However, I was feeling the effort, and when I checked the watch about a mile later, I noticed a terrific 7 something minute per mile. Time to back off for me. I might run a bit all out at times, but I was not going to blow my first 50miler like this. I let the three ahead of me and I settled on a lonely slower pace that allowed me to continue my honest effort.

No more than 5 minutes later I caught up with one of the two guys that were with me and tried to follow Ashley. He was hitting a low point so I tried to help him a little. He had a spanish accent (I found out only later that he was from Ecuador) and that made my day even harder: a guinea (myself) and a South American dude trying to talk to each other in broken English…imagine what we talked about? I don’t, but at least he had nice words for me in the next few miles before Tiorati. I tried to repay the support giving him info about the course. I told him there was a hill just half a mile before the aid station and I cautioned him to have some energy for that. Just after I gave him the news, he puked. Ah…just what I didn’t need.
The guy got himself together real quick and in less than 10 seconds he was back on my heels escorting me to Lanowa.

Just before the aid station I made up a mental list of things I needed to focus and get accomplished while there:
1) Get more food. In the last 2 miles every sip og Gatorade game me energy almost instantaneously. That is not a good sign: I felt I was getting depleted, and I was only at mile 30. The goal were the jam sandwiches that I got at Skannatati earlier
2) Drink and hydrate myself enough not to relate just on the few onces of the blatter and the bottle + Pick up all the goods that I had in the drop bag: my own gatorade, my own s-caps, my gels…my familiar tools basically.
3) Stretch again the hammies and the quads as well, some runnable downhills were ahead and I needed to keep the legs fresh and springy

Outcome was:
1) The volunteers did not want to make two or three sandwiches with jam, they were only making peanut butter (that I hate) and jelly. Thank god that one friendly soul helped and told me she was going to make one just for me. And she actually made two!!

2) My drop bag was nowhere to be found. “There you go” I thought, the Ancient Greek Gods are trying to stop me from conquering this Bear. I spend 2-3 minutes trying to sort out other runners bags and then found mine and Michelle’s packed separately because the volunteers coudn’t read the numbers that the guy at the drop bag station wrote. I ended up getting a couple of gels and the gatorade from the bag. Eventually

3) I stretched for a couple of minutes and I have to admire my South American buddy (Paul Riera). He was ready to take off in at least half of my time, but he waited for me, he even encouraged me not to stop to long to avoid getting the legs out of the groove. Unreal. What a feeling. This is one of the many reason I love the trails, rather than the road races. You do not get this on a road race; here you do not have many competitors, here you are your competition. I have found this quote somewhere, I forget where, but it describes perfectly the spirit of running on trails and running ultras: “What many people recognize–yet fail to fully appreciate–is that the true race-day battle lies within ourselves, and between our ears. It is the brain that ultimately decides how far and how fast we can run.”
Paul was not racing me, he was racing himself with me. And I was doing the same. I enjoyed.

I enjoyed it only for a few minutes, because…on a smooth downhill section we got passed by some old dudes…little I knew about them (found out by running guru/running star and superathlete Paul Thompson that one of them was a buddy of his…and run together in the past…of course the guy was 50+, but with a pretty good pedegree when younger. Of course here he won his age group, and crushed 20, 30 and 40 year old people like a kid can have candies. BEAST), but I admit I felt pretty disappointed and discouraged. For one moment I felt their old grit was the real deal, and not even my age advantage could make that gap up.

Paul and I tried to keep up a bit, maybe 2 miles max, but their pace was just those 15-20 seconds faster that I could not bear. We remained alone again, and now I started to feel thirsty.
This was a problem, because the sun was now hitting me hard, it was probably noon or just past noon.
Temperature raising, humidity fairly high and…not a lot of liquids with me. I was very glad that at least I drank as much as I could at the station.
We ran together on some up and down sections of dirt and asphalt road. I did not remember the paved stretching from the winter training, and I did not like too much the feeling of my feet bumping on such hard surface at that point. My legs were moving by inertia and the two of us were really pushing each other towards the next aid station.

We crossed a local road supervised by one encouraging volunteer and we jumped into the trails again, this time headed towards the Irish Potato. I remembered nostalgically the place, since this is where Shelly’s sunglasses are still buried somewhere. One day we’ll find them.
At this point I was focused on keeping my body moving trying to run smoothly even in the uphills. I felt my hamstrings and calves getting tighter more and more often; noticing that Paul was falling behind a bit, I stopped a few seconds here and there to stretch the legs again.
At one point we jumped out of the woods again and made a left turn into Lake Welch Pkwy, a paved road that we were meant to follow for about 1.5 miles.

I did not remember it so steep, but with more than 30 miles in the legs, I felt more comfortable hiking a few hundreds feet. I turned back and I saw Paul falling behind a bit more. I did not push the pace, hoping he could catch up with me. Afterall, we waited for each other all along and I would rather have a buddy next to me, rather than going solo.
The problem was that while hiking my legs started feeling really really sore and it was more painful to hike than to run, so I opted for a good jog up the road. Without realizing I moved from about 12 min/mile to about 8:30 just before making a right again into the trails, in a familiar section that I knew was very close to the aid station. The terrain was a bit tricky here, by mostly downhill and in a couple of miles I reached the Tiorati aid station.

Here I was welcomed by Bud and Bob again. It was unexpected, but very refreshing. I told them that the foot was ok, but not great, and that it was also a tough run. I got a lot of water again, stretched, and spent a good 5-6 minutes relaxing.
At this point I had no idea of how the race was going; I figured Jordan and Co. were already close to the finish line, but I thought it was worth to ask how many people were ahead of me. I did not pass too many after the first 13 miles, and actually got passed by the old folks half way through.
The volunteers told me I was 22nd overall.

What? 22nd? Might be a mistake? Where was the big crowd that lined up for the first wave? Were were all the great runners that looked tough at the beginning?
I was not sure, still it was a nice feeling to know that I was in such a nice spot and definetly the morale become much more positive, despite the fatigue.

I saw the shadow of another runner coming in and it was not Paul, it was another dude that we previously passed near Irish Potato, when he went off course into a creek looking for some fresh water since his bottle was empty.
It was time to go again, and I was feeling better physically and mentally since I was approaching another section that I knew pretty well from the winter training.
I cranked a few 9 or sub 9 miles and got mixed in with the 50kers. This was another great injection of energy.
Having someone around you openly complaining about the difficulty of the course, whining about the terrain, crying about their tired legs and so on, (yet being totally pristine, clean and jogging like a sissy city individual) usually makes me go even faster, and work harder on the hills.
I felt good again and Anthony Wayne was approaching quickly while I was passing dozens of slower 50kers.
I had a good word of encouragement for each of them, because – regardless of speed – they are all out there busting their arses in a very tough race.
Here I was still trying to calculate the projected finish time, and thought that a sub 9 hrs was totally achievable.
After reaching the top of a hill the downhill felt pretty comfy until suddently I tripped on a rock while passing a woman. Everything happened in slow motion.

My right leg tripped on the rock and I got a cramp on the hammy for the sudden overextension, my left one moved forward quickly to protect me from the fall, but it was too late. The left quad actually cramped and as a result I propelled myself even more, extended my arms forward and then flew for a few meters, landing horizontally on a bed of leaves and rocks. I hit something with my right hip and probably started bleeding on the side, but did not notice it till later at the finish line
Once again my hands were saved by the gloves and the small flask that I was using. I was loving Salomon at that point.
The woman I passed asked me if I was ok while getting back on my feet and while telling her I was feeling great, I was – in fact – feeling pretty shaky from the scary fall.
Well, I could not loose more time and launched myself down the slope again and while getting near A Wayne a few North Face officials encouraged and told me I was keeping a good pace and a smooth stride.
I was feeling pumped and thought my tank was still full of gas when I got to the aid station.

Here I was surrunded by probably 25 runners from the 50k or the marathon, and I was feeling very confused. Previously at the aid stations volunteers were totally dedicated to no more than 4 runners; here I believed I was in a stadium, cause I was not even able to hear what the volunteers were asking me or telling me.
I asked for water and dropped and entire gallon on the back of my neck. Washed my salty face and dirty hands and arms from the falls. Got a gel, more water, refilled the bottle and on my way towards what I consider the most difficult section of the race, and the one that I like the most.

There is something magical about these last 10 miles of the course; it is almost a second home and I do most of my trail running here.
For about 3-4 miles the run was pretty uneventful, not boring, but just a steady effort. Once I hit the 1777 trail after the bike path I found myself on the ground again. I realized I was constantly loosing freshness in my legs and I could not wait to finish the race to rest.

Now the tank was pretty empty, in need of some gas…
TOO BAD that I still had to climb Timp Pass and the section on the yellow trail.

I got to the yellow trail part first; generally I run it all the way up in training. Today it was not a choice and I hiked almost the entire ascent. I carefully started the downhill when a fellow runner, with an old looking appearance passed me at triple the speed.
I thought he was one of the marathon leaders, and only found out at the end that he was actually running the 50 mile.
So I was down one spot, and now was really struggling to finish.

At the bottom of the descent I looked back and did not see anybody else following and couldn’t detect anybody close, felt the urge to take a leak and proceeded to take care of “natural business” right on the side of the trail.
I noticed the color was not really clear, actually it seems a bit dark, and I made the decision to stick with water from now on.

I remembered the feelings I experienced the previous year in this part, during the half marathon, and how I was able to suck it in a bit more, just another mile or so, till the Queensboro Aid Station, where I could have refilled my body with very much needed calories and maybe a bit of a break.

You could hear the noise of the aid station already, even when more than a quarter mile away. It was defenitly the most cheerful I have to say.
As I got there and grabbed some water, I was hit again by the big surprise, very much unexpected: Bud and Bob were there.
We did some talking and I probably wasted more than 5 minutes, and still I was not ready to leave. I went back to the table for more water, I stretched, and talked again with the support crew.
Clearly this time they were interested in talking to me, asking me how I was feeling, etc. I will find out only at the end they were actually a bit worried, cause I did not look well at this point. They told me at the finish line I was in bad bad shape there.

Well, enough with the talking and asking about Shelly, I needed to proceed and break this comfortable feeling of standing around chatting. I had only 5 miles to go, it’s not that much, and Timp Pass should be the only little obstacle between me and something I considered almost impossible just 12 months before.

The first 2-300 feet after the aid station were pretty rough. The legs were moving in a funny way and even the little jog I was putting up was pathetically painful, and so unecessary, cause each part of my body was aching. The legs, the feet, the arms, the left side of the torso as a result of the latest fall, and the abs too!
Even if pretty demoralized I kept up the effort and this turned out to be a good strategy cause moving actually helped me feel physically better.

Jogging was transformed in a little run and one after the other I crossed the three creeks leading to Timp Pass, taking advantage of the fresh running cold water to soak my feet and give them a bit of a rest before the pounding that was expecting me in the next descent after Timp.

Another fast runner passed me here: I had the same thought as before. It must be one of the top guys in the marathon. I found out I was wrong again, it was a fellow 50miler, hitting the last few miles pretty hard.

Other 50kers were along the course, but it turned out to be pretty easy to pass them, since they were always stopping on the side. Only one annoying person did not want to be passed and forced me to step out of the trail and sprint downhill to make a move past her.
Come on…what’s up with that? You have to fight someone that is not even in your same race? Did not understand this at all, and probably never will.

At this point I am on my way up towards Timp Pass, in the rock flat stretch that preceeds it and I hear a woman ahead of me screaming to get out of the trail. I am not sure why, when a guy pops out from one of the trees (he was either resting or peeing) and said that there is a snake up there. Great. Not only I had to go uphill now, I have to actually take a detour that costed me a few minutes off the trail to avoid snakes.

DAMN!!

After avoiding the encounter with the snake I hiked up Timp Pass, vigurously pushing my legs with my hands, trying to maintain a decent hiking pace, and I passed the kind lady that yelled back at us pointing out the snake and her group of friends.
Timp Pass was cleared and I started the downhill. I thought I could run it slowly, keeping an eye on my footing, but as soon as I entered the rocky and dangerous section, I had to give up and continue with small steps from one rock to the other.

The quads were not in great shape, but what was worst was the discomfort under the feet. At this point I really thought I had blisters everywhere, not to mention that now the pain in the left foot came out again.
It is mentally difficult to strive for something – in this case a nice and comfortable run – and just be able to produce a very slow hike.
I was in desperate need fo the next aid station, since all the water I previously packed at Queensboro was not gone. Once I got out of the rocky part the easy part of the downhill brought me quickly to the last AS (1777) where I did not want to spend to much time but to refill my cup and the little flask.

I did not see anybody coming up behind me, but I did not want to blow the chance to keep my spot. I felt like Stephen, Nikki, Ryan, Paul, and a bunch of other strong runners would have come up right behind to pass me now, proving that their strategy was better.

While leaving I kept looking back, knowing this is a bit of a loser mindset (better to look forward to pick up a spot than to look back to save yours), but at this point, I was just happy I was making it to the end.
I ran the last section all the way.
Ran the ski trail down and up, then down again to the small artificial lake where a small crowd of tourists was swimming and diving. So Jealous they could actually relax in there. I even ran hard the little uphill connecting to the trail we did (on the opposite direction) first thing in the morning.

From here on it was an easy downhill towards the finish, with just a little climb about half a mile to go. I ran most of this part, hiked maybe a quarter, looked back again, and then ran, this time fast, my body that could barely move a few miles before, now was flying towards the finish line of oone of the greatest accomplishment I have achieved in life.

I was barely able to express happiness with my smile. I was euforic. As I was crossing the finish line I turned back and walked backwards like Kilian does, not because I wanted to imitate him, but because I wanted to take a snapshot of what was behind me, of the scene that just saw me going by.

Getting to the Finish Line

Getting to the Finish Line


I finished and I let myself fall to the ground, backwards again, screaming towards the sky.
Finish Line crossed, and ready to fall....yes, I did get a cramp while falling

Finish Line crossed, and ready to fall….yes, I did get a cramp while falling

Once the cramp disappeared, I could enjoy even more the moment

Once the cramp disappeared, I could enjoy even more the moment

I was joyful at this point and glad to recognize Bob Preti waiting patiently for me at the finish line. I composed myself a bit, and after a few words with Bob I decided it was time to speak up publicly.
I headed to the the guy with the microphone and asked if I could say something. Unfortunately the content of my message did not pass the PG-13 screening and I got censured, so I opted for a less glamorous “Thank you North Face”.
Now it was time to rest, recover (which I did submerging myself in the usual icefilled plastic bathtubs) and wait for Michelle to complete her endevour.

It did not take too long before she got there, and I could catch some of her action as she was escorted by Bud, who went through his first Bear Mountain experience as a pacer and as a runner on this very day.

Michelle crossing the finish line

Michelle crossing the finish line

Now it was time for everybody to celebrate, and share some of the experiences and feeling we had during the day; moreover, it was time for Bud and Bob to tell us how pityful we did look along the course as our race got into the final miles.

I’m not sure what the siblings were talking about at this point, but it could have been food…and I was happy to hear we were going to fill our stomach with anything we wanted.

Evidently more discussion going on

Evidently more discussion going on

Intense discussions among the family

Intense discussions among the family

Somebody refuels herself with maragaritas...

Somebody refuels herself with maragaritas…


The CREW enjoying the post race dinner based of mexican food

The CREW enjoying the post race dinner based of mexican food

After another visit to our favourite mexican restaurant in the area we got separated, and Michelle and I went back to our wonderful motel to rest our bodies.
It was here that the real pain began. The race kept our bodies alive, vigourous and moving. We ignored or suppressed discomfort, pain, hunger, thirst, black toenails and much much more for several hours.
We could not fall asleep that night because every inch of the body was aching. My legs obviously were emitting heat at their usual rate, the back was hurt, the feet even worst, the abs in pain, the neck was stiff. I could not even roll from one side of my body to the other to find a comfortable position.
Unreal, but real.

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One comment on “Bear Mountain 50 Mile – The North Face Endurance Challenge Goretex 50 M – May 04, 2013

  1. Michelle says:

    This is an epic race report for a beast of a race! Your respect and admiration for the Bear is evident. I especially love your memory for details of different sections of the course, the people you came across, and the feelings that came and went. It was an unforgettable day all around!

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