The time is quickly approaching. Twelve days to be exact until we run-hike-race the Catoctin 50k. We'll be traveling down to the outskirts of Frederick Maryland to Gambrill State Park to tackle this beast of a race. And yes, it is a beast! Not only do we have to contend with the possibility of extreme heat and humidity, there have been bear sightings on the course as well as rattlesnakes. The elevation profile makes me cringe every time I look at it.
The race is an out and back and if not run correctly can be pure hell for the runner during the second half. This course, this trail, it just beats you up. There may be a "few" smooth sections but the majority of the race you find yourself trying not to trip over all of the rocks. It wouldn't be bad if they were spread out and smooth...but they're not. They're jagged and everywhere. Combined with the roots that appear to be snakes, it's mentally draining. Exaggerating you may ask yourself? See for yourself.....
Don't get me wrong, some people thrive on this type of course. I am not one of those people. I am what people call a "road rat." I like flat pavement that bores most people into submission. But at the same time, this race is near our area and it's just sadistic so we have to run it. Added in that Kevin Sayers, the RD, charges a mere $25.00 for a well stocked race, you just can't beat it. The post race has everything a person wants. Meat eaters, vegetarians, fruit, drinks. It's the race you love to hate and hate to love. You have thousands of rocks, endless up and downs. The possibility of snake (copperhead and rattle) sightings. Maybe if you're lucky OR unlucky, a bear encounter. A two mile descent that tears your quads up. If you are fast enough to be ahead of schedule and the cut off, you can rest in the stream that you have to cross at the bottom. That's if it is high enough to sit in. One thing I won't have to worry about is blistering up. I'll be wearing my Injinji Toe Socks and my Hoka One One's for added protection. One thing I can count on is my feet feeling comfortable and blister free.
We were lucky enough to train the whole distance over the past few weeks. An out and back 12 two weeks ago through the "Valley" and 20 this past weekend from Hamburg to the Manor and back. Hydration and nutrition will play a big part throughout the day. Now we just play the waiting game and see how hot it will be on race day. Stay smart, keep smiling, and don't give up!!