Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK Race Report

I spent the majority of the day at the 14th annual Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 mile relay & ultramarathon.  I did the relay with a team of 6 other runners and a support driver (Erin).  I was lucky enough to run in the most challenging spot in the rotation for our team.  I completed Leg 4 and Leg 11 of the 12-leg race.  If you click the links, you can see the course maps, a video of the course being driven, and an elevation profile.

The race was incredibly well organized, the course was marked very well, the volunteers were great, and the post-race party was OK.  The course was almost all on gravel roads which was a very nice terrain.  I was able to crank out the 5.6 mile Leg 4 in 38:03 and the 5.3 mile Leg 11 in 37:31.  It was really neat to see the ultra-runners during my second leg (they had a big head start and I didn't see any during my first leg).  This course was the USA 50 mile championship!  The fastest guy finished around 5:35.  I can't even run a marathon at that pace!  There's also a team called "The Old Men of the Mountains" who are comprised of runners 65+ years old.  Their team captain is 93!!!  That's pretty amazing considering that the easiest leg of the race is 3.4 miles long.  That's longer than a 5k race and this is "off-road."

There was a lot of team spirit and costume wearing...and beer drinking on some teams (we waited until after the finish).  Some people ran as 2-person teams, alternating legs of the race; max team size is 8.  It was nice to have people to hang out with during the time when I wasn't running.  It was strange to figure out when and what to eat.  I also felt a little skunky (warm up, cool down, warm up...) going into my second leg.  I got pretty lucky that there was a sizable hill where I passed a ton of people.  Everyone else was walking on Leg 11.

I know that I won't be able to run the ultra next year, but I might be thinking about it in the back of my mind for a few years down the road.  It's not exactly a flat, fast course, but it's full of spirited people in a beautiful setting and the entry fee's not bad for the ultra people.  Maybe next year I'll do a 3-4 person team.  Let me know if you'd like to try and average 7 minute miles.
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