Sunday, April 18, 2010

TRAPROCK 50K: Mission Accomplished!

It's been a fun and crazy weekend!  Everything we expected and some things we didn't expect...but we expected the unexpected :-)  Seriously, Traprock 50 was a huge success!  It was filled with highs and lows, smiles and tears, and was an overall great experience!

The Quick Summary:

52 runners started the race with 20 runners completing the 50K, 10 for the 34K, and 11 completed the 1 loop 17K course.  We had only 1 DNF due to getting lost on the trail.  Three others also got lost, but chose to continue in completing at least 1 lap for the day.  More on that later.

Overall, the weather cooperated (overcast, 40s, and light showers throughout the day) and almost everyone had a great time.  Peter Schoew, a local runner I've never met, took the Men's race in a dogfight with my buddy, Matt Estes.  Matt was closing in on the last lap, but Peter held him off for a 1 minute victory margin.  Deb Livingston captured the women's crown while stopping along the way to breastfeed her 6 month old.   Yes, there were a few things I saw and heard during this day that will stick in my memory for a long time!

Feedback on the course was fantastic and I think we did a reasonably good job with the aid stations.   Many, many thanks to all our volunteers.  They were all personal friends/family with the exception of Bob Buckingham who is now a personal friend!  Bob rocked!

One of the highlights of the day was the pre-race cello solo by Dagmar's son Christopher.  He played the Gigue to Bachs first Cello suite to kick things off.  I dare say we are the first ultramarathon in the world to pull that one off!  The runners loved it and then sent them on their way!

DETAILED REPORT (from new RD's perspective)


As much as we had prepared, things got a bit chaotic on Friday.  I took a vacation day to go mark the course and do last minute preparation.  Goat was coming back from a business trip to Dallas, and was picking up his Dad's truck and items for the post race BBQ.  I wanted to get the trail marked early so headed out to the course at 6:30AM.  I marked about two thirds of the course before running out of the orange surveyors tape.  I had other errands to run, so retreated home for a quick shower with plans to come back later to finish the job.  At that point, I realized that I had forgotten to pick up 4 tables from my friend, Tim, and had to drive all the way to Colchester to pick them up since they would not fit in Tim's car.  Ugh!  With that task completed, I picked up more tape as well as some "Caution" tape and went back out to the course.  After finishing all but 1.5 miles of the course, I noticed that some of my markings from the morning looked like they were missing.  With that, I wandered up the trail a bit and decided I did not want to know the answer at that moment.  Did someone really remove all my hard work?  Panic was beginning to set in.  I decided to finish marking the course and then check the first 1.6 miles from the start area.  I finished marking and saw the first section of trail was intact with markings, so assumed I was just losing it when I thought some markings were missing.  It was 6:00 and there was still a ton of work to do.

Goat, Dagmar, and the boys met me and my daughters at the house and we had some pizza before setting into more tasks.  Goat went food shopping for fruit and other last minute items while Dagmar, Alex, and I finished the plaques for top finishers.  Tara set off to make a race banner.  Alex filled the new water jugs...and we realized one of them was leaking.  Argh! ...back to Walmart for a replacement at 10PM.  Time for some sleep.


Paul D. showed up at my place at 6:30AM, and we loaded his truck with tent, water, gatorade, chairs, etc, etc.  I had to pry my daughter, Tara, out of bed so we could get to the start by 7.  When we arrived, some runners were already there, and we hastily set up the tent, tables, and started pre-race check in.  Tara was assigned to check-in and did a great job having never completed such a task.  Meanwhile, I assigned volunteers to aid stations, provided directions, etc.  Once the aid station folks started pulling things together, I started to feel better about things and had a chance to chat with some of the runners.

Dagmar's son, Christopher, had volunteered to play his Cello for the pre-race festivities.  I thought, "OK, this will be a first for a trail race!"  Of course, it became one of the highlights of the day as Christopher did an incredible job with the gigue to Bachs first cello suite.

We gave the pre-race briefing (Goat says I went into too much detail describing the course), and then it was my honor to say "Ready, Set, Go!!!" and the runners were off...

After about 5 minutes, Michelle R. came rushing up ready to start the race.  She had been lost trying to find the park, so we gave her a bib, some basic directions and off she went.  She seemed to be in good spirits and ready for some good running.

Clint was out on the course directing traffic at the 1.6 mile mark and phoned me when the runners all came through, and I told him to watch for Michelle.

We set up the check in area as an aid station, and then I wandered up to the 7 mile aid station to see how they were progressing.  I was there about 5 minutes and a runner came through...he was obviously lost since the lead runners were still on the first 4 miles of the course.  Bummer!  He was 1.5 miles off course.  I pointed him in the right direction to get back on track and he wandered off.  Within minutes, 2 more runners came through the same spot and panic set in.  OMG, where did I go wrong with the markings?  I pointed them back in the right direction and decided to leave before more runners wandered in.  I called the 3 mile aid station and they reported that almost all runners had come through, so I felt a lot better at that point.

We watched the top runners come through the 7 mile aid station and I was surprised to see someone ahead of Matt Estes (by 5 minutes).  I wondered if he was in the 50K.  We went down to the start/finish area to see them come in.  Shortly thereafter the top women's runner came rolling into the start area thinking she was running a great race.  I felt horrible informing her that she was obviously off course since she was back way too soon.  She was heartbroken and I felt absolutely terrible.  Her Mom drove her up from NYC that morning and she had planned to win.  We had no idea where she went off course, and she decided to drop out at that point.  Her Mom had been helping us at the aid station, and I had no way to make it up to them.  I felt terrible...

As other runners came in I asked them about the course and the markings, and the consensus was that it was that everyone loved the course and thought it was very well marked.  I felt a bit better.  We tracked the runners to determine who won the 17K as well as the 34K and started up the post-race BBQ.  We were doing double duty as aid station and post-race party, awards, and T-shirt/beer glass distributors.  Volunteers were starting to head home and replacements were assigned to their posts.

Best story of the day, Chris C. finished the 1st lap in 3rd place, but was the leader for the 34K.  We encouraged him to keep going to win the 34K, and slowly started getting the bug to run another lap.  He borrowed my phone to call his wife who reluctantly agreed to let him keep going.  He hesitated for a minute, took off his over shirt and then took off down the trail.  We all cheered loudly, and 90 minutes later he received the 34K winners plaque.

The racers thinned out and only the 50K runners remained on the course.  I enjoyed chatting with many of the runners as they finished, and basked in the positive feedback on the race.  The Shenipsit Striders made a great showing with Deb winning, and Scott Turco, Bruce Giguere, and Goat running very respectable races.  Scott was 3rd overall (way to go Scott!) with Bruce and Goat coming in 8th and 9th respectively.   I think Bruce is doing some kind of dance in this shot!

We waited for the last runners who were enjoying getting their money's worth on this day.  I made an observation that the middle and back of the pack runners seemed to have more fun than the front runners.  I never noticed this in a race since I'm usually a participant and pushing as hard as I can for a strong showing.  It made me think about running a race for fun!  I wonder...

50K winners, Peter Schoew and Deb Livingston shown below:

As the last runners came in, we started breaking down the tent and packing up.  It took some work, but we crammed everything in and headed home.  By the time we got settled, the pictures and race reports started showing up on the web.  I felt like a playwright waiting to hear from the critics.  I thought, "They said nice things at the race, but what will they really say to the masses."  Thankfully, we received high praise from all and everyone is excited about coming back next year.


Goat and I drove back to the course this morning to take down the markings.  We realized that I was not crazy and that someone had, indeed, taken down the markings on nearly a 1 mile section of trail.  Luckily, no one made any major mistakes in that section.  Catastrophe avoided!  We returned the tables and his Dad's truck and tied up loose ends with financials and shirts.  We are just about ready to close the books on this year's race and start planning for next year.

Parting Words -

At the beginning of the year, Goat and I talked about this year being the year we start to leave our "legacy".  We wanted to do something special to make others happy and share some of the joy we have felt running on the local trails.  There were no spring trail ultras in CT, and only other one in the Fall.  We had talked about hosting a race for some time, and decided to give it a go.  There were several times we considered giving up, but the running community would not let us.  While we did not have a complete plan when we set out, everything came together in the end.  It truly emphasized some of the principles I have come to love.  If you envision something and take action, it will come to be.  Stay the course!  I am so happy we created the "Traprock 50K".

My daughter, Tara, training to be the future Race Director.

One of the things that really made me feel good was how long people hung around after the race.  Many folks had a great time hanging out with us and chatting.  Even the volunteers were hanging out long beyond expectations.  It was really a nice atmosphere.

Many, many thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help us.  It could not have happened without your support!  Goat and I are forever grateful!  Of course, we'll ask you to do it again next year :-)

Thanks to all the runners who took a chance on us.  We realize you have many options for races and we are honored that you chose Traprock.  We take the responsibility to provide a quality experience seriously and am so happy you enjoyed our race!

Lastly, someone asked me when our next race was planned if we were hosting a series.  I smiled and said, "One year from now!"

Only 364 more days!  See you at Traprock 2011!


Dan said...

Steve, thanks again to you, Kevin and all the voluteers. It was a great race. You're correct in your observation. We mid and back of the pack runners have WAY more fun than the front-runners!

cmorse said...

Excellent job guys. I think you've got a winner with this race though I probably won't be able to volunteer next year unfortunately. I plan to be back in shape to run it!

trailgrrl said...

An amazing day and race...the course was well marked you just can't avoid the silly twits like me running your race ; ) seriously I had an absolute blast!!!!

Dawn A said...

Kudos again. Great race and great report. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

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