NF Bear Mountain Race Report

Like almost any race that starts as early as this one did (5am) one of the initial concerns is simply getting some sleep the night before. So, after a couple of hours under the covers, Dave, Gene, Sean and I woke up grabbed some coffee, and hit the road to pickup my bib and timing chip right before the start of the race.
Start to Anthony Wayne
Crossing the line at 5am, the course went immediately into the trails, as the leading runners fell into a single file group of about 30 runners, packed in rather tightly, especially considering that the sun wasn’t rising any time soon, forcing everyone to run with headlamps. With the course trending uphill, through mostly technical trail, the initial clump began to split. The runners fundamentally sorted into 2 groups, the lead pack, and a chase pack, although getting to the first aid station the chase pack was only a few hundred yards behind. Already carrying a handheld, I didn’t do anything at the aid station other than hand over my singlet to my crew.
Anthony Wayne to  Silvermine
 Leaving the first aid station, we started heading uphill, right back on technical trail, with a good amount of single-track. This seemed to be the section where most of the initial position jockeying would happen, as runners were beginning to get a feel for what the days running would be like, as well as the sort of trails that were were going to be in store for for the remainder of the day. When I hit the aid station, I dropped off my headlamp, and exchanged my now empty handheld for a freshly filled one.
Silvermine to Arden Valley Road
Honestly, I don’t recall very much during this section, other than some moderate jockeying for position, and a couple of really sweet downhills. I’m pretty sure that it was during this section that I linked up with Ryan and Jason, with whom I’d run through mile 27. Arden Valley would be the first aid station without crew access, and as a result of it being used for both the 50 Mile and the Marathon being run that day, they were limiting GU’s to one per runner, which meant that in the large gap of time between crew sightings I would exhaust my supply of GU(note: I was carrying up to4 GU’s at a time, which was ~2 hours of food, seeing as I would consume 1 GU every 30 minutes)
Arden Valley Road to Lake Skannatati
This was a relatively uneventful section of trail, excepting my now dwindling supplies. The group that we were running with had reduced from 6 or 7 to now 3, Ryan who would eventually DNF, and Jason who would end up finishing in 8th place. When we hit the aid station we all decided to take a little more time, drink as much as we could, and try to resupply before the long stretch of trail we had coming up.
Lake Skannatati to Camp Lanowa
The longest section of trail without any aid, this was also the most challenging portion of trail. Jason Ryan and I had decided to stick together until Lake Skannatati at the very least, knowing that running as part of a group is always much better than running alone, since it relieves you of the individual pacing burden, and the comradery takes your mind off of the mounting discomforts. By the time I finally got to Camp Lanowa, I was feeling a bit tired, and my feet were getting rather beat up from the constant wetness, and dirt coming into my shoes, so knowing that from here on out, I would have a pacer, I took a few moments to refill my supplies, finally put on some socks, and pound a redbull before Gene and I took off down the trail again.
Camp Lanowa to Tiorati 
But Gene, my legs hurt! In spite of loading up at the aid station, and finally putting on socks (which felt unbelievably good) I was still lagging from the previous sections grind. Gene was brilliant in encouraging an uphill powerhike, and downhill run strategy through this leg, and pushing me just enough to keep me moving well, without pushing too hard. When we hit the aid station, Gene asked them what place I was in, which turned out to be 15th overall, so we stocked up, and hit the trail, after first being left behind by another 50 miler, putting me in 16th overall.
Tiorati to Anthony Wayne
Hey, do you think you can catch that guy? This was arguably the nicest section of trail, rolling single-track, not very rocky (finally, something without F***ing rocks!!) and after a mile or so, we began to see 50k and marathoners for the first time in the day. Everybody loves having a carrot in front of them, so seeing other runners in front of me, I started to rely on my training miles, and start running at a good clip again, enjoying the fantastic trail, and picking off runners from the other races. When we got to Anthony Wayne, Sean was waiting with new handhelds for me, and I was able to exchange Gino for Dave heading into the final 10 miles.
Anthony Wayne to Queensboro
That ain’t so bad! What’s another 10 miles, right? feeling really beat up at this point, already 10 miles beyond my longest run, the alternation between feeling awesome, and like complete and total crap was in full-swing here. Gene had been a chatterbox for his pacing duties, alternating between trying to make me laugh, and trying to piss me off, Dave’s methods of distraction weren’t too dissimilar, but with a lot more singing. When we hit the Queensboro aid station, Dave subtlely let me know that the other 50 mile runner we ran into there had previously had a ~5 minute lead on me, so we hurriedly boogied out of the aid station (running obnoxiously quickly for the first 400 or so yards) to try to get a gap going.
Queensboro to 1777
This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around. With Dave acting as a human jukebox, he soon realized that any time he broke into some talking heads, I could run faster. Although with one of the most difficult, and rocky ascent/descents all I could think about was how much my feet hurt, and how desperately I wanted to be off of this (insert a torrent of expletives and negative adjectives here) mountain. After grinding through this section, we finally made it to the last aid station.
This is water. This is water. Dave kept saying this to remind me to be in the moment here, enjoy this, accept this, and for Pete’s sake, just keep running. There was less than a 5k between here and the finish line, mostly downhill, on some comparatively forgiving trail. Running the final mile as hard as I possibly could, crossing the finish line was a truly tremendous experience. 9 Hours, 3 Minutes and 35 seconds on trail, 50 miles, 7038′ of vertical gain, 7038′ of vertical loss, 15th place overall.

This was arguably one of the most challenging, and coolest experiences I’ve ever had. I really can’t thank Gene, Dave and Sean enough for their support throughout the race, as well as their pacing, and general encouragement. I figured out that I ate 16 GU’s, a couple of handfuls of pretzels, 8 S! caps, 1 Redbull, a few glasses of Mountain Dew and a lot of fluids, which worked out exceptionally well, since I didn’t “bonk” at any point, and managed to urinate with a decent amount of regularity. Now, my entire body is sore, much more so than it’s ever been, but it’s a good sore, the kind of soreness that you know you’ve truly earned.

They even let me pretend to pour pints!



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