Highlander XX, Baileytown-Trail Run-Surebridge-Silvermine
Kenny and I drove up the night before and stayed in a hotel in Suffern. I wasn't sure what to expect from myself at the Highlander this year, as I have been feeling slow and tired ever since the Nationals in California. Still, it's the Highlander, so anything can happen. And I love Harriman in the fall!
It did not disappoint. Peggy set a great course, including a fun trail run and an epic first leg on Surebridge. The racing was fun, the cramping was real, and the post-race food delicious.
S-1: I was intimidated by the climb straight off the start, so went left down to the trail with a large pack. Passed Peggy on the trail. "She is the course setter, so this must be the best route," I thought. However, the climb from the trail to 1 looked steep and unpleasant, while the slope to my right looked more gentle and not covered with blueberry, so I turned off the trail up the big reentrant and started climbing. Kenny came with me. Will Hawkins stayed on the trail. At the top of the reentrant I saw Jeremy, Wyatt, and Jon Campbell coming from my right, and Will Hubsch in the distance up ahead. That told me that straight from the start was the best route. Oops. I picked up speed a little to drop the Wyatt pack and was mostly by myself at 1, with Kenny and Wyatt a bit back, glad not to see the crowd from the trail route yet.
1-2: Ran straight down through the beautiful woods and was led into it by Hubsch, who had missed a bit to the right.
2-3: Took a better line than Hubsch and caught him at 3.
3-4: Took a long time to get to the trail, probably should have cut down sooner. I heard some thrashing above me, and Hawkins appeared, passing me and Hubsch on the trail. On the climb up to 4 I slowed down, and Kenny appeared behind me, as well as Joe Barrett, who quickly got ahead.
4-5: Went pretty straight, with Joe pulling a bit ahead, and Kenny and Hubsch just behind me.
5-6: I exited 5 at a bad angle, basically running right into the marsh between 5 and 9. The woods were think here, and I took a while to bushwhack through. When passing between the big marsh and the road I was surprised to pick up Joe again, and so our pack of four was intact.
6-7: Stayed a bit lower than Joe to save some climb, but got stuck in a couple of fallen trees, and Joe got ahead. As I was going into 7, I saw Hawkins out on the way to 8 on the little indistinct trail.
7-8: Slow bushwhacking through the marsh and then up the slow, Joe still in front.
8-9: Went a bit higher than necessary, pulled by Joe who was even higher than us.
9-10: Straight, cutting off small angles here and there to keep pace with Joe.
10-11: A slow walk straight up. It is already apparent that Kenny is stronger on the uphills than the rest of us.
11-12: I wanted to pick up the little indistinct trail and drop into the control from it. I slowed down a bit to make sure I didn't miss it, and Joe got ahead, missing it. I hit the trail and led Kenny and Hubsch into the water stop/map exchange. Joe appeared while we were drinking.
12-13-14: Hubsch, Kenny, and I basically ran together, as Joe went past us pretty quickly and stayed ahead of us, but within sight, the whole way. Will walked most of the uphills, and I thought that was a good idea, as there was plenty of climbing left to be done. There was some beautiful ridge-top trail running here and some classic Harriman vistas. As we hit the road at the top of the trail run, we could see Peter Z zooming down the road on the way out towards the first control on Surebridge. A bit later we saw Hawkins climbing the road as were going down.
Map 2: Surebridgehttps://photos.app.goo.gl/9rtpf3jeKcT4arUx8
At the water stop I was disappointed not to see any real food, as I was hoping for some cookies and bananas. Good to remember for next time. I stuffed some sport beans in my mouth, drank water, ate a piece of a banana I had stashed, and started planning the route for the monster leg to 1 with Kenny and Hubsch.
14-15 (S-1): I suggested running the road around to the north and cutting to the indistinct trail right after passing a small lake. We also considered going all the way around on the road, as well as cutting earlier and running on the indistinct trail for longer. I remembered that trail as being very rocky and hard to follow, so rejected that option. Joe took off about a minute before us, and Kenny, Hubsch, and I set off down the road after agreeing on the route. The road running felt good,and we kept up a good pace. Once we cut off and started climbing, the going got slower, as the reentrant was covered with some invasive grass. Still, we executed the route as planned and came to the big trail right as Joe was coming up it. Nice.We stayed mostly together the rest of the leg, though Joe was a bit higher on the slope just before 15.
15-16 (1-2): I led our little pack here and really enjoyed this short leg. Spike.
16-17 (2-3): I tried to find the rocky reentrant to get down and then hit the trail, but missed slightly and ended up in the stream bed. Kenny helped me correct, and we got back to the trail, where Joe pulled ahead again.
17-18 (3-4): Nice leg cruising under the big cliffs, with Joe getting ahead at the end as he had a better approach, while I circled the hill the control was on.
18-19 (4-5): Chasing Joe down, then up and down and up again.
19-20 (5-6): Going into this one, we all lost confidence, as I could not make sense of the rock features I was seeing. I finally realized I was almost at the swamp and correct. Joe and Kenny figured it out earlier and were ahead of me.
20-21 (6-7): Joe quickly took off to the southwest, and I said to the others that I did not want to take that route. After some discussion, Kenny and I agreed on taking the trail to the east before dropping to the water stop, and then the next trail up to the ridge where the control was. This was the toughest part of the course for me. I struggled a lot on the climbs, and Kenny was easily able to pull away. I stuffed my mouth with sport beans and ate a whole packet of them on the climb. As I was walking up to the final ridge, I thought for sure that Kenny was gone. However, when I got up to the top I could see him, and I was able to pick up speed enough on the descent to the control that I made contact again.
21-22 (7-8): Pretty straight, staying a bit high and behind Kenny. In the meantime, Will Hubsch dropped off the back, while a tired-looking Peter Z appeared from below. Almost immediately, Joe popped up from behind us, and suddenly we had a new pack of four.
22-23 (8-9): I considered avoiding the climb and contouring to the left, but Kenny pointed out that we were getting stupid and should take stupid routes. Good call. So over the top we went. Easy attack down to the reentrant.
23-24 (9-10): All four of us slogged through the rocks and the green together and got to the map exchange in one big pack, at this point miles behind Greg (20 minutes) and Will Hawkins (10 minutes).
Map 3: Silverminehttps://photos.app.goo.gl/qya9KCdDiKj4M8c19
24-25 (S-1): Peter spent almost no time here and took off. I ate the rest of my banana, drank two cups, and once again lamented the lack of cookies. Joe, Kenny, and I "chased" Peter in what was the world's slowest pursuit. Luckily, Peter seemed to be staggering and zig-zagging on the road for some reason, so we were all together before long. I was losing ground on every climb, even on the trail, but caught up again when I stayed on the trail longer and avoided most of the blueberry.
25-26 (1-2): This was a slog. We were clearly all hurting at this point. My hamstrings were cramping a little bit, as was my butt. Kenny bravely took the lead on this one, and we slowly made our way up through the blueberry. On the way in to 2, we saw Will Hawkins below us, heading out to 5.
26-27 (2-3): Kenny went straight through the blueberry, while Joe and I said "f this" and cut to the trail earlier. I thought that maybe we got a bit of separation down to Peter here, but he pushed well on the trail and caught up again.
27-28 (3-4): Kenny led the way and again plowed through the blueberry. I stayed on the trail longer, but missed a good spot to cut off, so everyone got ahead.
28-29 (4-5): Peter and Joe immediately took off to the southeast, climbing the hill. Kenny and I paused and discussed options. It was decided that we had to make a move if we are to beat them, as we had no chance in a sprint finish against these young guys. So I suggested running the swamp through 1 and then staying in the flat woods and rounding the big hill before the downhill run into the control. We did that. We executed fairly well, but probably should have been more decisive with the route and also maybe put in one last concerted effort to pick up speed. Though we were already running at the limit of what we could do without falling a lot. Either way, despite our efforts, we hit the saddle before the control together with Joe and Peter.
29-30 (5-6): I did not understand anything coming out of this control, so I just followed. I thought they might drop me on this leg, but everyone was slow that I was able to catch up just by jogging a bit.
30-31 (6-7): Joe punched first and was off. The rest of us gave chase. I picked up speed as much as I could, but good hear Peter right behind me. I stayed a little higher at first, hoping that Joe would get stuck somewhere, but he ran well, and popped out at the control maybe 15 meters in front of me.
31-32 (7-8): I had a few meters on Peter and ran as hard as I could without inducing deadly cramping. Peter kept making weird noises behind me, and I thought that maybe he had hurt himself, so I turned around a couple of times to check on him. Instead, he flew past me as we were crossing the stream and blasted down the finish chute.
32-F (8-F): I gave chase, feeling surprisingly fats on the downhill finish, but could not gain enough on Peter. Kenny jogged in a few seconds later.
So, 5th place, which I am pretty happy with. I ran a good race, felt reasonably strong, and really enjoyed being out on Harriman with great company. Thanks HVO for continuing this fantastic tradition!