Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hynerview Challenge 50K Race Report

SOB hill
Hynerview Race Report

On April 22nd we headed down to Pennsylvania for a big trail running weekend. The plan was to run back to back 50k races on the weekend so that I could really test the calf. Before I attempted to run any longer races I wanted to see what my gimpy peg leg was going to do when it got really tired. I managed to find two races with a huge amount of climbing which was a perfect test for the leg. First up on Saturday was the Hynerview Challenge.

As some of you already know I absolutely love this race. The course is beautiful, extremely challenging, super well marked and the RD does a great job of putting on a top notch event. Haven't run this race? You are definitely missing out and its only a 5 hour drive from Toronto.

This is the third time I have been to this race. We drove down Friday and stayed at the same place we have in previous years. The Kettle Creek Inn which is only about 10 minutes from the start line and has a restaurant with good food. It is no frills but decent and best of all the room is also super affordable. I am all for being cheap.

Saturday morning we picked up our race kits and made our way to the start line. Kim and our friend Elizabeth were both running the 25k race while Chris H and I were doing the 50. All four of us have run this race before so we all had a really good idea of what we were getting into.

                                                                        50k elevation profile

The 50k race features 9000+ feet of climb with a lot of single track and a decent amount of technical thrown in for fun. While the huge amount of climbing makes things difficult the way the climbs are laid out ups the Holy Crap factor substantially. There are numbers steep climbs that go on for 1-3km and the downhills tend to be steep and quad busting as well. Talk about fun!

 25k elevation profile

The plan was simple, no racing at all, just run it slow and easy to try and save something in the legs for the next day. I planned to treat it like it was 100 miler and just enjoy it. How long we were out there was not even a consideration.

As mentioned earlier I have run this race twice before. The first time I ran it at a moderate effort as a training run. Last year I attempted to run it in the midst of all my medical issues and it ended up being a disaster. I could not climb, could not breath and ended up turning my ankle at 12km and having to drop out. Okay it was not all bad I got to drink lots of free beer at the finish line.

Off and Running
The race starts off with about a mile of road until you hit the trail head then maybe another mile of slightly rolling single track. We ran this nice and easy and soon were at the first big climb "humble hill". Its steep, its long and pretty much goes on forever. After at least a good 2km of climbing you finally reach the lookout at the top of the hill. Someone told me that they use this place for hand gliding which makes sense, it's a long way down.

  part way up the first climb

 at the top of climb #1

As we reached the top I told Chris that I felt a hundred times better than the year before. It was a tough climb so it hurt but in the way it was suppose to. Also it put a huge amount of stress on my calf with no negative effect at all. That was a huge relief.

For the next few miles everything continued to go as planned. We stayed slow and before long had passed the spot where I had turned my ankle over the year before. I had come to call this place scream valley because last year you would have heard my scream (okay screaming curse word) for a long distance in either direction.

It's here that we saw our first course change, a new section for the 50k runners. This cut out a few kms of running along / through creek beds. The new section was nice but honestly I really loved the creek running so kind of missed that part of the course. Once we finished the new section we were at the bottom of "Sledge Hammer". As most trail and ultra runners know when hills have names they tend to be pretty nasty. Sledge Hammer is long, I was told 2 miles, steep and kind of never ending. After a long climb you are on to the 25k loop which will eventually lead you right back to the top of Sledge Hammer again.

This section went okay, lots of ups and downs. Lots of single track, lots of wondering why I didn't do the 25k. Legs were starting to tire as Chris H and I hit the 30k mark and headed back down that crazy hill.  Turns out running 2 miles of steep downhill is not the break for your legs that you might think. By the time we got to the bottom and turned back into the creek bed  our legs were shot. My quads seemed a bit confused and didn't seem to want to work / run much at all.

 Its hilly in PA

 SOB Hill

From that point on it became a slug fest. Lots of climbing including the infamous SOB hill which is so steep your hands are sometimes touching the ground (oh and keep an eye out for rattlesnakes) then a very long few kms of downhill back to the start of the trail head. By the time we make it to the road Chris H was feeling nauseous which is usually my job so we just kept moving forward until we finally make it to the finish line.

Both of us coming in

 finally finished

I was really glad to be finished and tried not to let it bother me that we were so slow, after all that was actually the plan. We got a cool finishers hat at the finish as well as some barbecue. Kim and Elizabeth also both had hard but decent races and were already into the post run beer by the time we got back.

Kim at the finish

Unfortunately we didn't get a long time to relax as it was back into Chris's truck to drive 3 hours further south for our Sunday race.

Up next - Ironmasters race report

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