Finished in 8:27:34(official time); A new PR for a new distance
Overall place: 82/149
Overall men: 63/92
Men 45-49: 8/10
Race #81 and my first 50k race.
Dave, Kevin and I went out to Oil Creek for an epic weekend and we got it. This race and course is unbelievably organized, beautiful, and ass kicking. It's the hardest race I've ever run, and for that, I have a feeling of accomplishment become an Ultra runner. That said, while I loved everything about this event, it's a tough one and without proper training is extremely difficult. They give a generous cutoff time of 17 hours and I can see why it's needed for many. Personally, I think this is perhaps too tough for a first 50k but I'm not one to back down from a challenge and am very happy I decided to do this.
Registration was back in March of this year. It's a funny story because the race sold out in 90 seconds. Yes, you read that right. Kevin, Dave and I got on a conference call so we could register together when it opened. Dave had run this before and loved the race so he wanted to go back again. Just like that, we registered online and we were in and committed. We were joking that if we didn't get in, maybe we would commit to the 100k. Based on how I feel after the 50k, I'm glad we got in. Haha.
Packet pickup had two choices. You could pickup the day before or the morning of the race. We took off Friday and headed to packet pickup. It's about a six hour drive to Titusville, PA where the race was being held. When we got there, we took a little bit of a tour of the area to see part of Oil Creek State Park. Wow is all I can say. The area is so beautiful and has so much history to it related to the Oil industry.
We were able to get a picture near a symbolic oil derrick which was fun even though we would run past some of them(including the one below) during the race.
|Oil Creek State Park|
|Gerard Hiking Trail - where the course is run|
Then it was time to make our way to the cottage we rented for the weekend. The cottage was located about 10 miles from the start in a town called Pleasantville. It was a rustic two bedroom cottage which was perfect for us. One bedroom had full size bunk beds which worked great and it was much better than a hotel and gave us more room to relax. The school where packet pickup was also allowed runners to pitch tents in a field next to their parking lot or sleep in the gym if they wanted to which is a great way to save some money but we opted for more comfort. You could also use the showers at the school gym for $5.
|House we rented in Pleasantville|
|Packet pickup/start/finish location|
|Pre-race dinner included|
We got to the race about 6am and were also able to park right next to the school. One of the huge advantages to a smaller race is you didn't need to get there hours before. The 100 milers and 100k runners started at 5am and 6am respectively so we didn't see them start. Our start was at 7am which was perfect. This gave us time to get our timing chip and use the restroom before the start.
|Waiting for start|
|Pre-race photo - Dave, me, Kevin|
|Ready to run|
You can see the course below per my Garmin. As said, it's primarily in the Oil Creek State Park. Being this is my first 50k, I had no goal other than to finish. This was an extremely difficult terrain that was very hilly. Yes, I ran hills - lots of hills - and none of them prepared me enough for what we would encounter. While I was aware of the extreme elevation, I was not prepared for the rocky terrain where it was very difficult to navigate a flat footing to keep running. There was nothing in our area quite like the terrain which is why I felt so unprepared for it.
|Course per Strava|
|Elevation per Garmin|
Our buddy Dave, on the other hand, had other plans to kick the courses butt and he finished two hours sooner than us! There was no way I would have been able to keep up with him and I didn't feel like running this distance alone. Kevin and I really enjoyed the race together and I found that it made it much easier being there with someone to talk to the entire way. We cursed Dave together the whole way, as this was his race suggestion, but we loved every minute of it.
While I can't say we ran the entire way, the elevation was so insane that we hiked a good portion of it. We ran when we could but sometimes it was faster to just power walk the hills than try and run them. It's really hard to describe how hard the terrain was which is why I took so many pictures along the way.
|Splits per Garmin|
Note: When I take pictures during the race, I typically don't change my pace or stop in the interest of safety. I just keep running and I get what I can get from the pictures. Some come out better than others but they give you a great idea of what the course is like.
As you can see, Dave was raring to go and he was so pumped up. I knew right there he was going to kill it. As with any race Kevin and I have run together, we just agree to run our own race and meet at the end. With all the running with Dave this summer, this was the first race where we all started together.
I think Dave had grand allusions he would pull us along to run together but there was no way this was happening. He's a much more experienced runner especially at this distance and terrain.
|Dave pumped to be running|
|Still a little dark|
|Hitting the trail|
|Climbing and still happy|
|Stairs - not the only ones either|
|Nice fall color|
|A rare flat part|
|Wolfkiel Run Descent|
|Huge rocks on single track|
|Little streams everywhere|
|Pink/reflective flags marked the course|
|lots of leaves on course|
|Ray Gerard's Neverending Hill|
|Rocks the size of homes|
|Unforgiving HIstoric Gnarly|
|Beauty up high|
|Who's house is this?|
|Awesome picture of Kevin running|
|Me by the oil derrick|
|Stairs and leaves|
|Almost to Aid Station #2|
|Aid Station #2|
|Time to climb|
|Heisman Trophy Hill|
|I feel like climbing rocks|
|Now they warn us?|
|The best view of the oil derricks|
|Taking in the view|
|Are we there yet?|
|Aid Station #3|
|Why they call it Cemetery Hill|
|Insane elevation here|
|Don't fall down|
|Ok, I can run this!|
|Kevin coming down muddy, wet, slippery stairs|
|Rocks were killing me|
|Climbing - a theme here?|
|Careful again. It's a far drop|
|Lots of roots|
|Marathon distance now keep running|
|The footing was so hard!|
|Almost off the trail|
|First some downhill|
|Still up high|
|Will be back to this bridge later|
|Awesome fall day|
|Drake Well Museum area|
|Museum on the right|
|River on the left|
|Almost to the bridge|
|Going over the bridge|
|Almost home now|
|Under the train tracks|
|Back to Asphalt|
|Through the neigborhood|
|Dave cheering us|
|Finish line(clock was for 100 milers)|
|Photo by Charles Houpt|
|Photo by Lee Ann Reiners|
The aid stations, pictured above throughout the course, were incredible. They were well stocked with all kinds of food to keep you going including cookies, grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, candy, pretzels, salt tablets, Hammer products and water. The volunteers were incredible and as you entered the aid stations, they would ask you what they could get you. You felt like a King going though these stations and really helped keep your spirits high.
After we finished, we went into the school cafeteria for something to eat. My stomach could only take so much so I had some hot soup to help refresh me. We were able to change there and get into something warmer and once we felt normal again, we got a few finisher pictures with our stickers and belt buckles.
|A very tired finisher - me!|
|Three happy guys! Dave, me, Kevin|
|After race celebration|
For your $70 registration fee(a very reasonable price) you received a well marked, supported, chip timed course with incredible organization. The race management really knows how to put on a spectacular event. You also received a pre race dinner included the night before the race. The registration came with a long sleeve tech shirt with the race name on it and I'll proudly wear this one when training.
|Race tech shirt|
|Race water bottle|
|Last years shirt - only $5!|
|Last years hoodie color - only $10!|
|Finisher belt buckle|
The organization for this race was awesome. From the race communication to their Facebook page to all the details on their website, it was very well planned. I've only been to a couple Ultra events and the atmosphere is always so great and relaxed yet organized. The packet pickup was very easy, the aid station were awesome. The course was well marked. The event has the support of over 350 super friendly volunteers and the entire community is in support of the race.
The bottom line is this was an epic race. While extremely tough, it was so satisfying to finish such a tough race. While I probably should have done an easier 50k for my first, I don't regret being out there and toughing this one out for a very satisfying experience that I'll never forget. It truly was a chance of a lifetime to run this great event. I can't believe I'm an ultra runner. I would highly recommend this race for someone looking to run an ultra distance - just make sure you are trained for it. The race theme is "Strike Oil or move on!" so you don't get to change distances.
|A tough 50k!|
Disclosure: I paid for this race with my own funds. All opinions are my own.