2019 Traprock 50K+ (and 17K)

I returned to run the Traprock 50K for the first time in five years. I did the race in 2011, 2013, and 2014. Debbie has done the race many more times. Today, we both ran, and ran together. Shepard also completed his first ever 10+ mile trail race–he did the one lap 17K.


This was my first ultra since breaking my leg in January 2018, so it was  a real test. My last ultra was in April 2017 at the Promiseland 50K++. This + and ++ thing is worth noting. At Promiseland, the distance was definitely more than 50K. At Traprock, the revised course (my first time doing this tougher loop) is longer than 17K. Also today, I made a wrong turn on the first lap that added some mileage to my day.


At the time of my error, I was in front of Debbie, but I ended up behind her, and it took two hours to catch up with her. Once I did, we stuck together as we were fairly evenly matched. I was stronger on the climbs, and she was much stronger on the descents. That gave her the advantage because the finish of the loop is a wicked rocky and rooted descent. She scorched it and I was a half a minute back. We finished in just over 6 hours and 35 minutes. She was 2nd placed woman and she joked that she was the first “old woman.” This is her 20th year of ultramarathon trail running.


My best time on the shorter/easier version of the Traprock course is under five hours, but that was years ago at the tail end of my 30’s. I’m definitely a master runner now and I lack the endurance (and flexibility) to run these distances as fast as I used to. It hurts (my legs) too much.


We were really proud of Shepard. Both Debbie and I got to see him on his run. He finished in a little more than two hours for the one loop and was happy. He had a young running companion and they stuck together. Dahlia hung out at the aid station. She is an old pro at crewing and apparently she had a lot of “sweets” because when we finished, one of the other aid station captains took pleasure in “snitching” on her. It was all good fun.


My GPS had more than 6,300 feet of elevation gain. The trail was a real mix. Some sections were dry. Other sections were absolute quagmires. The mud bogs were intense because we had heavy rain overnight. It was still drizzling when we arrived at Penwood State Park around 7:30 A.M., but by the start an hour later, it was just misting. It remained overcast for the first four hours or so, but then the sun came out and it really warmed up (for April). I actually got a little sun.


The heat took its toll on the runners as there were quite a few DNF’s. I had my moments where I thought, “Uh oh,” and was worried about not finishing too, but I persevered and got it done. My fastest lap was the second lap because I was running hard to make up the 10-15 minutes that I lost with the wrong turn. It was my error. I totally missed an arrow. pointing right. The course has several overlapping sections and it is narrow so you are often on a parallel trail. I saw yellow flags and followed them, but after three-quarters of a mile I hadn’t seen anyone in front or behind. I ended up on the return direction of the trail. I turned back and collected three other runners about five minutes later. They had also missed the turn, but they insisted the were going the right way, and I couldn’t convince them otherwise. I heard they may not have turned around until they reached the next aid station. For laps two and three, there was a course marshal at that spot, but no one was there on lap one and it cost me!


That’s not a knock. The volunteers were amazing and particularly that woman at that spot. I wish I knew her name, but we saw her twice a lap and she was so cheerful and encouraging, yelling and cheering for us as we passed by. I loved it. The aid stations were stocked, but I did the whole race with water, Tailwind, and Skratch. I brought the Tailwind with me, but when I ran out, I used the Skratch that they supplied. I didn’t eat any solid food. I took four salt capsules over the course of the race, and generally felt good about my fueling strategy.


They had some good vegan pizza at the finish, so after my body calmed down and after I drank some Vega for recovery, I ate a LOT of pizza…and chips too. It was fun to see many of our trail running friends. The Shenipsit Striders were out in force. This was the first race in the 2019 Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series.


I carried my iPhone, but only got a few photos because it was wet, slippery, and I couldn’t get the touch screen to work very well. I wish I got some photos of the mud. Just imagine shin deep muck for a 50 meters. There were many sections like this. It was shoe sucking mud and there was no avoiding it. By the end of the race, I was just trudging through. I was too tired to look for a rock or two to step on.


I’m sure my legs will be wrecked for a few days, maybe more. I needed a long day in the woods. It was therapeutic. The suffering helps me reconnect and the mind games are always fun to play. I was thinking about one of my favorite recent books: Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. I loved the book and it helped me get through a tough Traprock 50K.

Race Results (50K)

Race Results (17K)

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