June 3rd, 2020
2009 McNaughton Park Trail 50 Mile
Saturday April 11th, 2009
2009 McNaughton Park Trail 50 Mile
I've often thought about doing McNaughton, starting back in its early days when the race offered a 50K and 50-mile event. Somewhere along the way, a 100-miler was tossed in. Adding races was easy to do since the course consists of a repeated 10-mile loop. Want a 50-mile race? Five loops! A 100? Ten loops!
Eventually RD Andy Weinberg figured, "Heck, I can have a race of any distance as long as it is divisible by ten! And so a few years ago a 150-mile event was added to the mix. To make room for it, the measly little 50K was dropped.
On Friday afternoon I was at the race site, cheering the 150-mile runners who started at noon, 18-hours before the 50 and 100-mile events would begin. "Are you racing this weekend?" asked several people.
"Oh, which event? The 100?"
"No, 'just' the 50-mile," I answered meekly. Three events and the "easy" one was 50-miles. That's a hint at the tough-factor of McNaughton.
When we came to cheer the 150-milers on Friday afternoon it was cool (upper 30s) and raining. Thankfully, Craig Swartwout's crew had the mother ship with them -- an RV the size of my first apartment (or perhaps a bit bigger). Talk about bees to honey. From inside the carpeted and upholstered digs we watched as the rain came down, along with several tents within site of our ship. One of the guys told us that Robert Wehner, a friend who would later be crewing and pacing Craig, went out to run a loop to see what it was like. It took him over two hours.
"Geeze" I thought, "How the heck long is it going to take me tomorrow? Robert is a faster runner than I am so I figured that I'd have to add quite a bit to his time to get a sense of what my pace would be.
But I was lucky. The course was in its worst shape of the weekend when the 150-milers were on their early loops. By late afternoon on Friday the rain had stopped and there were actually sections of the course that were now runable. The rest was covered by some variant of slip-sliding-away mud and shoe-sucking goop.
So let's put this 150-mile event into perspective. I came to cheer runners coming in on their first loop, then went to a hotel, relaxed for a bit, went out to dinner, came back to pick up my packet and cheer runners, went back to the hotel, watched some trashy TV (where do they find these families for Nanny 911?), got a night's sleep, and then headed back to the race site for my 6 a.m. start.
Upper 30s, with the promise of upper 50s to come later in the day, was start-time race weather. Most competitors were in shorts (or a skirt). Down the mud chute we went to begin the race. Slippery, but not too awful I thought. A nice mile or so of runable fields and then a giant mud puddle and a steep climb to get us in the mood for the rest of the course.
Generally, I would have thought these to be very challenging conditions. Shoes could find no grip in the muddy sections. A rope was hung at one hill to give runners a bit of assistance up a particularly nasty beast. Stream crossings were well over my knees in a couple of spots. "This is one tough mudder of a course!" I said to a McNaughton vet running next to me.
"Oh, we have it pretty easy this year," he told me. "What great conditions! The course is really drying up; we're so lucky this year."
He said this as he inadvertently pirouetted in the mud, slid off the trail, grabbed a tree as a dance partner and then pirouetted back on course.
"What great conditions!"
The course did improve as the day went on. The sun evaporated a bit of the moisture and turned a few spots of mud into simply messy dirt. But still, for this course newbie, there was plenty of mud. After awhile, I identified the various mud patches by food color -- "chocolate brownie swirl mud," "peanut butter fudge mud," "chocolate mousse mud," etc. And then there was the "rice patty field," a molten mess of grass and rolling mud upon which no runner could find a logical way to traverse. I tried leaping across on my tip-toes on the second loop. That actually seemed to be the most efficient method but fatigue later discouraged me from trying it again.
Generally, my legs were holding up well. No knee aches, no grumbling from the cranky ankle, no significant crashes in the mud. My one frustration was that I felt like I was catching a cold. "Dang!" Cough, wheeze, blow a little snot, cough, wheeze, blow a little snot... "Dang, I made it through the winter without catching a cold and here it is, the start of spring, beautiful flowers just beginning to sprout, and I've caught a cold. Cue the band for a nice little pity-party tune!"
Post-race I was coughing up a lung or two and realized, "Hey, I don't have a cold after all, just allergies." Gosh darn it, I seem to be allergic to that McNaughton course! Oh well, a smoker-sounding cough for Easter.
The wheezes may have tired me a bit, but mainly, it was the course. Each loop I savored a little longer until finally I made my way to the end of my fifth. Yippie! I finally did McNaughton! Yes, it was "only" the 50-mile race, but that was good enough for a lovely tech tee and a buckle. And, good enough for me.
Okay, so let us continue to put in perspective what those 150 milers are doing. I watched them on their first loops Friday afternoon, had a lovely evening and good night's sleep, did a LONG 50-mile race on Saturday, drove four-plus hours back home to Milwaukee, had another good night's sleep and am now enjoying coffee at home while only four 150-miles have completed the course. MANY CONGRATS to 150-mile winner Ryan Dexter from Wisconsin, who did 15 of those 10-mile loops in 34:42:16. Wow.
Race results are at: http://www.runrace.net/findarace.php?id=09100IL&tab=a4
There is also a webcast tab to follow checkpoint progress.
Mary's Checkpoint Splits
I know that there is a bunch of tweeting going on as well, but I haven't mastered that. Perhaps I am too long-winded for a mere tweet.
Thank you, Andy, for a wonderfully exhausting day at McNaughton! Nice of him to host one more race for me to try before taking his show on the road to his new home in Vermont. There are unverified rumors that McNaughton will continue under a new director. Regardless, Andy will be offering a similar event in his new digs out East.
BTW, I did take a few photos Friday afternoon, but they are limited primarily to a few of my TP buddies. If you are interested, go to http://www.maryg.smugmug.com Click on the first gallery.
Mary's MPTR Gallery:
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April 12th, 2009 12:06 pm
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