Friday, May 1, 2015

Charlottesville Summer Trail Running Series

Get ready! Online registration for the Series is coming soon! Registration also available at the first race at the Crozet Running Trail 5K at Mint Springs Park on May 9th. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Charlottesville Summer Trail Running Series - Save the dates!


Crozet Running
The CATs and Crozet Running are putting together the inaugural Charlottesville Summer Trail Running Series for 2015 consisting of four races on trails in and around Charlottesville and Crozet, VA. The distances for the races vary from 5K to 5 miles and are open to all ages, skill levels, and speeds (walkers are welcome too).

Runners can register for the Series at the Crozet Running 5K or online here on or before May 9th.

The series will launch with the Crozet Running 5K at Mint Springs Park in Crozet on Saturday, May 9th at 8 am. We are finalizing details on the other three races, but you can pencil in the following dates, times, and locations for the all of the races :

Saturday, May 9th, 8 am
Crozet Running 5K, Mint Springs Park

Tuesday, June 9th, 7 pm
OH!lly 5K, UVa Observatory Hill

Saturday, July 18th, 7 am 
Camp Holiday Trails 5 miler 

Tuesday, August 11th, 7 pm
Pen Park Summer Meltdown 4 miler

Barbeque to follow race with series awards and fun!

Race entry for the full series is $40. Racers can also pay slightly more for each individual race. Sign-up will be available at the Crozet Running 5K and on-line after May 9th.

Come join us for this summer series! We welcome all runners, trail lovers, and individuals looking to get out and have fun!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bob Clouston owns Umstead. Jen Lebendig conquers Terrapin



Bob, at race finish with crew Marc Griffin and Christian Dahlhausen.

We have two great CAT reports to read from recent race finishes.

The first is Bob Clouston's report from the Umstead 100 mile Endurance Run. Bob finished his first 100-miler in a little over 26 hours, and aside from a down period during loop 6, had an amazingly strong race. You can read his race report here

The second report is from Jen Lebendig, who finished her first Terrapin Mountain 1/2 marathon week before last.
Jen, atop Terrapin Mountain (above) and with race
mementos (below).


Terrapin Half by Jen Lebendig
*gong*
Watch everyone run away
Start climb
Give Horton my jacket
Settle into climbing rhythm
Wow this is pretty!
Arrive at Camping Gap, see Horton again.
Begin climb up Terrapin
Wtf kind of "hike" is this mountain?
My God it's beautiful!
Thank God I have poles
Start descent
Did I say, "Thank God I have poles"?
Down down down
Check in at AS 2
Climb back to trail
Hike, run, repeat
Wait for Anderson to catch me
Downhill, whee!
Fire road, whee!
Passed someone
Cows!
See the finish
OMG I beat Anderson!
Most fun I've had in a LONG time.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

CAT to run Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run


Bob Clouston -- Getting it done on
the trail.
CAT veteran Bob Clouston will head to Raleigh, NC this week for Saturday's running of the 21st Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run. He will be traveling with a CAT crew made up of Marc Griffin and Christian Dahlhausen.


The Umstead 100 consists of a 12.5-mile loop run eight times in Umstead Park, located not far from the Raleigh-Durham airport. Bob, a seasoned ultramarathon trail runner and marathon road runner, will be attempting his first 100-miler with this race. Bob has tracked his training ups and downs (including two shoulder-dislocating falls that occurred off the trail) on his own blog, Trail Tripper's Running Adventures, which is a great read for those of us that might prep one day for a 100-miler.

Marc and Christian will be at the start-line aid station to lend crewing help throughout the race, and will also help pace Bob near the end. There is also talk that Bob's adventure will be live-blogged or updated on Facebook by his crew.

Big shout out to Bob.Good luck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CAT Fourth Anniversary Gathering

We recently passed the 4th anniversary of the founding of the CATs and believe it’s time for a celebration of this milestone! Come join us this Sunday (3/22) for beer and pizza at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie in North Garden starting around 5:45-6:00 pm.

Christian will also be leading a group run before Dr. Ho’s on the 10K course in Batesville. The group run would start around 4:30 pm, most likely at the Batesville United Methodist Church on Plank Rd. David will skip the run (not sure he’ll be up for the Batesville hills the day after the Terrapin 50K) and will plan to be at Dr. Ho’s by 5:30 pm to hold a table.

An early CAT picture circa October 2011
So we can get a decent head count, please let Christian (dahlhausen@gmail.com) and David  (dcs8f@virginia.edu) know if you are interested in joining us for pizza and/or the run!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

CATs at Hellgate 100K 2014

Below are two great race reports from CATs that ran this year's Hellgate 100K race. The first report is from Sophie Speidel, who has run Hellgate an amazing nine times. The second is from first-time Hellgater Becca Weast. 

Way to go ladies!!

Sophie Speidel

hu·brisˈ(h)yo͞obrəs/: extreme pride and arrogance that ultimately brings about one's downfall; a typical flaw in the personality of one who enjoys a powerful position; as a result of which, she overestimates her capabilities to such an extent that she loses contact with reality.


After running the Hellgate 100K eight times with an average time of 15:07, and a PR on my 50th birthday in 2012 of 14:33, I was under the (false) impression that my ninth Hellgate would be a no-brainer. I thought that since the weather was basically perfect with lows in the 30s, highs in the 50s, and clear skies, that all I had to do was show up and run. I thought that since my training had been going really well, and that I had been feeling rested and recovered from Masochist, that all I had to do was show up and run. And I thought that since this was my 12th year of ultrarunning and I had figured out my nutrition years ago, that all I had to do was...you get the idea.

Sophie (2nd on R) at Hellgate pre-race dinner with "Dirt Chicks" Dana
Kracaw, Megan Hicks, Annie Plummer Stanley, and Bethany Patterson. 
But here's the thing about ultrarunning in general and Hellgate in particular: Hubris will smack you down every time. Gary Knipling and I had a conversation about hubris at the Barkley as we watched some friends suffer it's consequences. And I thought of Gary once again as it occurred to me at Mile 40 that I was in the throes of the grip of a huge, epic bonk. Hubris had reared its ugly head and Hellgate smacked me down for good measure.

What happened? Well, I was cruising along feeling fine around mile 15 along a gorgeous stretch of horse trail known as the Promise Land section with Keith Knipling and defending women's champ Kathleen Kusick. "Hmmmm...I must be running pretty well if I'm running near these people." (Lesson 1: Don't get too cocky. Keith and Kathleen were just having a rough patch and finished in 14:15). 

The headlamp that I had borrowed for Hellgate was blinking a warning that it was time to switch out the battery, even though it was only 4 hours into the race. (Lesson 2: For the love of God, don't mess with what works! Why I decided to try a shiny trendy headlamp and no handheld instead of the trusty Petzl MYO XP and a very bright handheld is beyond me!). 

I spent a lot of energy trying to navigate the technical sections in the dark, and when I came Aid Station (AS) #4, I was so preoccupied with fixing the lighting situation that I neglected to leave with my Perpetuem powder as planned as well as extra Clif Bloks. (Lesson 3: Don't mess with your nutrition! Get it dialed in and stick to it like glue).

As a result, I started to lose energy descending into Jennings Creek (AS#5), and despite eating lots of eggs on the ascent to Little Cove (AS #6), I continued the makings of an epic bonk because I was without all my other nutrition (Lesson 4: MANAGE YOUR RACE. This is probably the most important rule of ultrarunning. When things start to unravel, figure it out, change it up. Instead of eating whatever they had at the next aid station, I just took photos of the sunrise). 

I knew I was in for a long day when I reached AS # 7 at Bearwallow Gap around mile 40 and they didn't have the hamburgers they had made in years past; I had to settle for a pancake. Not the end of the world, but when I mixed my Perp powder from my drop bag into the water from the aid station, it tasted like soap. Ugh. (Lesson 5: See Lesson 4). Needless to say, I didn't drink a drop for the next two hours.

Sunrise at Hellgate
During the last 15 miles, I spent refueling and chatting at the aid stations, taking photos, texting my son (who was en route from Australia during the entire race, so I was a wee bit distracted to say the least), and death marching to the finish. Despite my low energy and bad attitude, I also enjoyed periods of gratitude and joy as I remembered the many friends with whom I had had the pleasure of running with in 2014, and in past years at Hellgate.

And the final three miles always make me smile: a sweet downhill, the sun shining in my face, the prospect of good food and friends at the finish line, and another Hellgate finish. What could be better?


What will Hellgate #10 bring? One thing I know for certain: hubris will not be invited.

Becca Weast

I remember finding Hellgate in a shady corner of the internet, back when I first moved to Virginia. I was hunting around for new and exciting running challenges and I stumbled across David Horton’s extreme ultrarunning page. Seeing the profiles of those races absolutely blew my mind then, but it must have also planted a seed deep in the part of my brain that likes pain and blisters. After some begging and name-dropping in my race application, I found myself on the list of entrants for this year’s Hellgate 100K++.

This fall, I had run one other ultra - the Mountain Masochist 50 miler – and I was very happy with how that day went. I saw the payoff of solid training then, so I spent the lead-up to Hellgate tuning-up my climbing muscles, doing some miles with friends, and feeling confident. Until I got the flu.

This seems to be a common story this year (maybe it is every year), but just a week from race day, I found myself horizontal on the couch with a temp of 103, staring at the ceiling like it was about to share with me all the secrets of the universe. I did not feel good, and I spent my ‘taper’ eating chicken soup and sleeping. Little by little I got healthy, but both my muscles and my confidence still felt shaky as I listened to Horton’s pre-race briefing (always a treat) and chatted with runners and crew in the hours before the race. I tried not to think about it. There was no turning back, after all: my spandex was on, my Nathan was packed, and before I knew it we were singing the national anthem at a dark trailhead. Here we go!

The first miles were like the first miles of any ultra. The fast kids go ahead, and everybody shakes out their legs and tries to find a groove. I was antsy to get to the meat of the course, so I think I went out too fast. This was probably not smart. Climbing up to AS #2 was beautiful and surreal, just as I’d been told to expect. The little ant-trail of head lamps coming up the road behind me, and stretching into the dark up ahead, made for a welcome distraction. I had no idea where I was or for how long I’d been going (I didn’t wear a watch of any kind), I just tried not to think of the frankly absurd number of miles I had left to cover. Eventually I got to AS #2, paused briefly to grab some calories, and then cleared out in a hurry. The climb up to Camping Gap was unremarkable, although I did notice how much easier the trail had seemed during daylight hours at the Terrapin Mountain 50K. In the dark, with the leaves, it made me feel clumsy and awkward.

Heading out of Camping Gap (AS #3) on what I think is the longest section of the course, I took stock. My legs felt ok, but my hip flexors (which never give me trouble) were angry and one of my feet was cramping. Not a great sign, but there was nothing to do but push on. Eventually I fell into a rhythm with Marlin Yoder and about 6 other runners, and we stayed clumped together like this until AS #4. This is the section of the trail that overlaps with the Promise Land 50K course, and I was surprised at how familiar it felt. Granted, it was at the time of night when it feels like it will be dark FOREVER, and it felt like it was getting colder by the minute, so I don’t know that I was having fun. But there was something comforting about the familiarity of those hills. The meteor shower was also a nice touch.

Aid Station #4 was COLD. This was the coldest that I felt all day, while I shivered, perched on the driver’s seat of my boyfriend and crew-man Stanley’s car, munching on banana pieces and shivering. I was surprised when Jen Page, a Gaylordian and crew for another runner, told me that it was already 5:30. Where had the night gone? It would be light soon! Eventually I started off on the descent into breakfast. I was looking forward to breakfast.

I really dislike technical downhill, especially in the dark, and ESPECIALLY when my headlamp batteries are starting to go. I do not have too many fond memories about this section, but the runners around me seemed pretty happy. The sun came up and lifted my spirits, and by the time I’d had some breakfast (soup and Mountain Dew) I felt pretty OK. I knew the next two sections would include the infamous DEVIL TRAIL, so I took off with a vague sense of foreboding. I locked in with a runner who was shooting to finish the Beast series, and who seemed good-naturedly resigned to the suffering of the day. AS#6 came and went without much fanfare, although I remember thinking that it took FOREVER to get there. I believe this is the halfway mark of the course, and I think I was relieved to be on the other side of it as soon as we rolled out. I don’t remember much from that section, because I think my brain was on autopilot. Run. Hike. Eat. Repeat.

There’s a deceptive little piece of trail at the start of the Devil trail section. You begin on jeep trail, and turn in to a narrow, slanted trail that goes on for what I think was less than a mile before it spits you back out onto another fire road. I remember coming out on the other side of this trail and thinking “Wait, was that it? Is Horton just trolling us all?” That didn’t last long. That devil trail was NASTY. Rocks, leaves, slanted trail, technical downhill … the only positive about this section was that it wasn’t dark while I was there. This section was rough. Eventually we got to the lunch AS #7, where I got some much needed expert crewing from Stanley, Bob Gaylord, and Michael Ludwig. Seriously, those dudes are wizards.

This next section, which I’ll call the ‘in and out’ section, was the highlight of my day. I latched on to Bethany Williams and her pacer, and we merrily ran just about this whole section. It just flew by! I felt great! This section of trail, which many runners find repetitive and grating, was exactly what I needed at this point in the race. You run along the contour of the mountains, running in and down, then up and out, over and over again (about 20 times, I think). The predictability of this made the running much easier for me, but I can see how others can find it dull. 

I came into Boblett’s Gap (AS #8), ate ALL THE FOOD in preparation for the forever section, exchanged pleasantries with the crew, and left. This is when the wheels started to come off.

The effects of the pain I’d started having earlier in the race were catching up with me and I soon found myself limping along, unable to even run downhill. This precipitated the lowest point in my day, and it was a hard crash from the high of the previous section. I watched everyone I’d been running with all day breeze past me as I hobbled along, trying desperately not to cry (I failed), telling myself to just keep moving forward. A pair of very friendly runners stopped and offered me Tylenol which I gratefully took like candy, and little by little I made my way through the forever section. Incidentally, I think my preoccupation with my joint pain actually made this section go by faster. The trail here seemed very runnable with lots of rolling ups and downs, and I remember expecting it to go on for much longer than it did. The cars at AS #9 were like a mirage to someone stranded in the desert. I couldn’t actually believe I’d made it!

The final section is very much the epilogue to the race. The hard work was over, and now I just had to work up and over the mountain. I really enjoyed the hike up – the road is well maintained and level, and the weather was stunning – but I was in such bad shape that I had to power-hike down the back side. Reaching the 1-mile to go sign was a surreal moment, because a part of me couldn’t believe that I was going to finish. It would be over soon. 

This final mile, just like the rest of the course, is beautiful. The sun was just setting as I tottered through, and the road is lined with farms and open fields with sloping lawns. It’s perfectly picturesque and serene, and really made the efforts of the whole day sink in. I really was almost done.

Becca at the finish line!
As I mentioned, I wasn’t wearing a watch. I had no idea what my time would be. So when I turned the corner to the final stretch, I was shocked to look up and see the clock still read 16 something. Then Stanley yelled “you have 20 seconds” and I read the clock again. I had exactly 20 seconds to cross the finish, to still make it in under 17 hours. So, with my grumpy face on, I sprinted my heart out and crossed the line at EXACTLY 17 hours. And promptly sat down. That was a wonderful feeling.

It can’t be said enough how expertly these events are put on. I’m immensely grateful to David Horton and his army of dedicated volunteers who make these fantastic events go off without a hitch. I also owe a big shout-out to Sophie Speidel, who served me all the Hellgate Kool-Aid and some absolutely key early morning hill workouts, as well as all of the CAT and CRUT runners with whom I’ve trained since last spring. With such a great group, the training is almost more fun than race day (there’s definitely less suffering). 

LOVE ALL AROUND. EVERYONE IS AWESOME. Also, I think I’m still riding that post-race endorphin high. Wheeeee! Until next time, folks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

West Virginia Trilogy 50K


RAIN! That's a word that ran constantly through my head as Stuart Brown and I ran our first West Virginia Trilogy 50K last Friday, October 10th. The rain came steadily through the first 20 miles, in downpours at times and drizzles at others.

But beyond the day's sogginess, both Stuart and I agree that this was one of the finest 50K races we have experienced. The race starts and finishes at The Mountain Institute (TMI), an outdoor education center that also provides the race's meals, lodging, logistics, camping, and parking. The TMI setting is idyllic. It sits six miles off Rte 28 in a high mountain meadow near the base of Spruce Knob (highest mountain in West Virginia), about three-hours drive from Charlottesville. The TMI "camp" is composed of a series of large and small wooden yurts. It is in the largest yurt that meals are served and folks gather to chat and hang out; smaller yurts are reserved for staff lodging, dormitory-style lodging, and showers and toilet facilities. The night before the race, Stuart and I enjoyed our tasty burrito meal in the big yurt while listening to race directors Dan Lehmann and Adam Casseday brief the racers on what to expect the next day.
The main yurt at TMI Photo: The Mountain Institute

The 50K is part of a three-day race (hence the "Trilogy") hosted by the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. The Trilogy includes a Friday 50K, Saturday 50-miler, and Sunday half-marathon. About 75 racers were signed up to run the 50K, half of which were planning to run all three days. We really didn't know many of the racers, but everybody was friendly and welcoming. We did know David Frazier from the CATAss 50K and got to chat with him before the race. David hails from Harrisonburg and set the fastest known time on the Trilogy course back in 2011 (composite time = 13:56:23).* This was his first time back since the 2011 run and he was happy to be back, declaring the Trilogy to be his favorite race.

It wasn't long after the race's 7 am start that we began to see what David was talking about. Much of the course is on magnificent single-track through forests of maple, birch, spruce, and fir. The trails are mostly highly runnable and snake through miles of wilderness without significant elevation gain. In fact, there are no big climbs on the course until mile 11 (after Aid Station #2). The first climb is noteworthy, however. The trail ascends steeply for 1-2 miles, ala' Apple Orchard Falls at Promise Land, with no switchbacks. Once that climb is finished, runners again follow a relatively flat jeep trail for several miles before descending on single track and then dirt road to Aid Station #3/#4 at mile 17. At AS #3/#4, runners are funneled into a five-mile loop for the second big climb, this one tops you out at the highest point on the course, 4250 ft. The descent on this hill is somewhat technical, but eventually follows along a nice creek before bringing you back to AS #3/#4 at mile 22. Coming out of AS #3/#4, there is one more hill to climb. On the one hand, this climb sucks; it is once again steep without switchbacks. But the climb is also through this wonderful open meadow with spectacular views (even on a rainy day) of the adjoining mountains in their full fall-color splendor. It was worth the climb! Next comes five miles of flat but technical and muddy single-track -- think Torrey Ridge with shoe-sucking mud pockets -- to Mile 27. Once runners are through this section, they arrive at AS #5, from which it's pretty much smooth sailing through continued beautiful forests and high-mountain meadows to the finish.
Stuart and me at the finish line.
Photo: Dan Lehmann

Stuart and I finished in a not-so-fast 8:25, but we really had a great time on the course and could probably improve our times knowing what we are getting into next time. In any case, it's a race we would highly recommend. With 75 entrants, the race was small. But the race organization was such that it didn't feel small. The RDs were well-prepped, we got some great swag, and the aid stations were stocked full of warm soup, quesadillas, sandwiches, and other goodies. . . including moonshine! (WV hospitality at its best) For anybody running MMTR that's not recovering from Grindstone, the WV Trilogy 50K would make for a great and fun training run.

*David Frazier finished 1st in the 2014 Trilogy, but behind his 2011 record (2014 time was around 15:30) ). His slower time was due in part to a wrong turn he made during the 50K day.