Finished in 5:23:17(official time); no new PR but first trail full
Overall Place: 7/16
Race #79 and marathon #6
This was my first trail marathon. I ran the half a couple years ago and have been wanting to come back. Excellent race with a passionate race director. The feeling of the race all the way through the day is incredible. Since there is an Ultra marathon also going on, I love the relaxed feeling after the finish. While this is not an easy course, if you love the trails and race bling, this race is one to put on your list. One of my favorites courses. I love the North Country trails.
Registration is very easy as their website directs you through the entire process. I wanted to be one of the first 100 registered, because you get extra swag, so I registered a full year ahead of time. vThe race sells out very quickly due to it being hugely popular. They offer a half, full and a 50 mile Ultra.
My buddy Rich and I stayed at my cottage, which is not a close drive - about 1:45 minutes, so it was a very early morning getting up at 3:20am. Our other buddy Kevin was staying closer to town so he picked up our race packets for us the day before so we didn't have to do it that morning. We were picking up Kevin on the way that morning and ended up getting to the race around 6:15am. Kevin and I were running the marathon so our start time was first at 7am. Perfect timing to get parked right near the start line as well as time to get in line to use the bathroom before we started.
The race also offers race morning packet pickup as well which is a great feature because I wouldn't have wanted to drive to the race twice had Kevin not been able to pick up our packets. The race was pretty much set up for runners and had bib numbers out so you could get your packet. Since it's not a huge crowd, race day packet is also very easy.
The start area had packet pickup as well as the start line set up.
|Start area - nice and relaxed|
|State Flags - 33 states of participants|
|Marathoners ahead of me|
|Marathoners behind me|
My main goal for this race was to finish feeling good, although in the back of my mind, I wanted to finish within five hours. As you see, that did not happen but I did finish feeling good overall -- well, at least as good as you can feel for what I believe to be my hardest marathon I've run.
I tried to start off fairly conservative but slipped into the 10's pace after a few miles. The first half of the marathon course is not extremely difficult except for one large hill around mile 3.5 and another one about 11 miles in but overall some small rolling hills to deal with. I almost wish it was the opposite and the hard part was the second half but what fun would that be? Haha!
I started walking quite a bit more at mile 16 which is not unusual for a hilly trail race like this. In fact, many runners were walking at least the hills and running down them. Unfortunately, around mile 18 I was feeling nauseous from the heat so I only ended up using two gels for the entire race with a little bit of Hammer electrolytes. Other than that, I drank lots of water. Given this was my first trail full and I didn't know what to expect, I'm happy to have just finished feeling good and to be able to get back to my 50k training shortly.
|Course per Garmin - due to heavy forest, GPS was off for everyone but actual distance is 26.2|
|Elevation per Garmin|
|Splits per Garmin|
While I did know what to expect for the second half of the race(it was hard) since I've run the half before, I probably should have run it a bit slower for the first half. Oops. I apologize for some of the pictures as it was an early start time and the forest is darker so it's really difficult to get good quality pictures while running especially for the first half of the race.
I really enjoyed the start and talking with other runners as we passed the time with conversation.
|Hills but not too bad in the beginning|
|Love the ferns|
|Beautiful area of the forest|
|Pines and ferns|
Headsweats hat and my Buff to keep the sweat off me, I didn't need sunglasses for any of the course as my hat was more than enough on the course.
|A little sun showing through|
|Well marked course - Marathoners followed Red|
|One of my favorite parts on the course|
|Oh Me II area|
|Large up hill|
|Double Bit area|
|Highest elevation - you could see for miles|
|Downhill after that view|
I was pretty out of it on the course and forgot to take a picture of the aid stations. They were about 3-4 miles apart and there were plenty of them. Especially because of the Ultra, they had all kinds of food as well as water and Hammer products(gel and electrolytes). They also had pretzels, oranges, pineapple, bananas, blueberries that I saw. The volunteers were awesome and cheering all of us to their aid stations. They were really helpful to offer to fill my water bottle and get me what I needed so I could get back out there running.
The finish area was one of the most relaxed finish areas in a race that I've done. The race included a full meal with beer so you could sit and relax. I remember from the half that people had chairs so I brought some camp chairs to relax in and eat after the race. There were also some picnic table spread out. Best post race atmosphere of any race I've done! Remember a chair for yourself as it beats sitting on the ground.
|Rich, Kevin and I|
I paid a little over $80. For this entry, you received a great course that was well marked and chip timed. It had plenty of support at the aid stations. You received a ticket for a full meal and 2 beers. The meal was hamburgers(or veggie) as well as corn on the cob, baked beans, chips, pretzels, and pie. The beer was from North Peak Brewing which is an excellent local beer. It was nice to see a local brewery there.
In addition, the swag for this race was just unbelievable! You received a custom race bib as shown below.
|Polo shirt with Race logo|
You also received an awesome race tech shirt in red which has a great saying on it. While I have never been a fan of A4 shirts, this material is different than all the A4 shirts I own and finally this one will get used in training. It's very breathable unlike how A4 shirts usually are. I also chose a small in this because they still run very large as I normally wear a medium, and it fits perfectly. The other thing I like is that NONE of these shirts have any sponsor logos on them anywhere. They all have the race logo only which I love sharing that I ran this marathon.
|Race tech shirt|
|Tech shirt back|
|Medal Close up - the largest medal I own - one of the largest marathon medals in the country|
|Medal close up - the runner is tripping|
|Perspective on how large the medal is|
The organization is top notch. All facets of the races are reflected in the race directors passion and the volunteers support. The website is well organized with all your answers to questions. The communication on Facebook and Twitter is excellent. A pre-race email was sent prior to race day. The start area and packet pickup was organized and the volunteers knew answers to your questions. The finish area was also well organized.
An incredible trail race. The course is fantastic. The swag is unbelievable. The after meal was great. The beer was tasty. The race was challenging but it didn't kill you. Don't get me wrong, it's a tough race but you will get satisfaction of completing this marathon and no matter your time, be proud you finished it. The ultra gives it a much more relaxed feeling and makes me look forward to running an ultra based on how this race is run. For me, the North Country Trail is a incredible trail to run and this part of it is awesome. Whether you run the half, full or ultra, you won't regret signing up for this one.
|Post race Trailhead picture(notice my filthy legs)|