I had not run this race before as I thought it a bit far to drive for a 50k. Well, I was right -- the toughest time was not the 7 hours completing the race, but the 7 hour drive to Youngstown, then the 7 hour drive back! Seemed like everyone on the road Friday afternoon was in a big hurry to get home or someplace for the weekend. With EVERY Interstate under construction this time of year and unfamiliar roads, it made for some hectic driving at times!
Really though, I enjoyed the event & I'm glad now that I made the trip. Mill Creek Park is a real gem located in what seemed the very middle of Youngstown. Drive just one block out of the urban sprawl and you drop down into a valley and into a different world!
I was pretty tired after the trip, but fortunately got a good night's sleep at a new motel which was nice. In the morning, I arrived about an hour early at the start to sign in & to drive a drop bag over to the covered bridge aid station in the middle of the course that I would visit several times during the race. At sign-in at the log cabin, I ran into Bob Engel from Cincinnati. Bob has run in several races that I have, including Germantown just a few weeks ago. He was doing the early start at 7 am -- I believe just to be done early . . . which I wish I would have done as it was cooler and I wouldn't get caught up in the early pace as I did.
I arrived at the covered bridge aid station about 7:15 am. There was no one there yet, so I left my bag & I was glad to see it was still there when I arrived the 1st time.
Returning to the start, I ran into the only person, other than Bob, that I "knew" at the race: Mike Keller, who also had his daughter along. Actually I only knew Mike from reading his blog & entering his ONE . . . . MORE . . . . MILE and TEN . . . . . MORE . . . . . MILES challenges. Mike had entered the 25k & I had thought that would be the last time I saw him at the start . . . but at about the 21 mile mark, I made a wrong turn after following 2 runners blindly & I ended up on a road . . . and Mike just happened to be driving by just at that instant & got us straightened out!
Very nice & cool start next to the lake:
The course consisted of 2 loops, 7.75 mi & 4 mi, done multiple times but not one right after the other: 1/2 of the large loop (the hilliest portion of the course) was done first, then 2 laps of the smaller (fairly flat) loop, & finally 2 1/2 laps on the large loop again. Feeling pretty good at the start with the cool temps, I got caught up in the pace & ran up a few hills I shouldn't have the 1st few miles. With all the rocks & roots, I was tripping & stumbling along -- I almost fell headlong but caught myself at the last moment and in doing so I twisted my back slightly. It may have been better to just fall into a roll & not cause the shiver up the spine with the twist, but that's hindsight. Fortunately, I was only doing 50k -- any longer & it would have been a factor in the race.
About 90% of the race was within sight of the 3 lakes or the creek as the course wound it's way along the banks in this valley -- a pretty scenic course! Lots & lots of steps too -- steel, wood, stone & natural rock steps and one long boardwalk. The course also passed the 3 dams for the lakes, this is one of them:
After the initial 4 miles, I settled back down into an even pace & stumbled only once or twice afterwards. Then the 2 laps of the small loop were fairly easy & the only problem I had thru here was an unscheduled pit stop (& it wouldn't be the last). I was experimenting this race by trying a liquid (Ensure) diet the day before & it seemed to have the opposite effect I had hoped for.
The covered bridge aid station was also next to Lanterman's Mill & Falls. The volunteers here got to know the runners personally as the 50k runners passed thru here 5 times. They were a very friendly bunch!
I did get off course a couple times. For the most part, the trail was marked very well with streamers & lime dust. Only one 90 degree turn did not have any flagging & I heard from many runners, including veterans, who missed that turn. But with the course following a narrow strip of woods around 3 lakes in the middle of a city, it wasn't long at all before you realized you were off course!
At the halfway point, my time was about 3:13. I knew then breaking 6:30 would not be possible, so I shot for 7 hours & I was able to make that goal.
Next up in less than 3 weeks is the Oil Creek 100 in Titusville, PA. Time to rest up! It's going to be a long drive (9 hours?) & mostly over the same route up thru Ohio as this race. Did I learn something by going to Youngstown? Well IF at anyway possible, I'm going to leave on Thursday (& skip that madhouse Friday traffic) & get a day's rest in after the long drive too!