Well it's official, I will now be running the CAT 100 (Catoctin 100 Ultra) on April 28th and 29th. I have been meaning to write a blog but with the passing of our friend, Mike Edenfield, and some other personal Family issues, my mind has been elsewhere over the past week. Ok, let's get going......
The Catoctin 100, or better known as the CAT 100. I think the photo above say's it all, "This Race Ain't For Pussies." That's a very true and realistic statement. The elevation gain is 16,796 with the loss being 17,598. Some would say that isn't so bad for 101.2 miles. However, when you add the type of terrain involved, it's a whole different ball game. The start begins on the Catoctin Trails Blue Trail. Right from the start it's an in your face challenge for 27 miles. The climbs are staggering at times. The rock's are more than your typical rocks. They are more like little boulders that are waiting to roll your ankle once you start getting a little lazy. The running is not that pretty West Coast fluffy cinder style trail that you could fall in love with. This is treacherous single to double track. You run through what look's like wash out's at times. Once you get to the "Manor", you then have to make a 1795 foot climb to Bob's Hill. There's some fairly good running for a few miles, then it's down down down. Then right back through another stream and up up up. We tried to run this section last week and failed. It was just to hard to run. From the downed tress to the rocks, it was too hard. And when we did find enough space to run, we were too tired. I really hate this trail. But I do it because it's there, begging to be hated.
Once you're off the Catoctin Trail it get's really bad for a while. There's some serious rock patches. At times it looks like they brought a dump truck in and just unloaded them right on the trail. It's pure hell.
I can't and won't even call this a true "race." I would call it "101.2 miles of surviving some of the toughest trail's there are." It wreaks havoc on your feet, turning them into hamburger. It beat's your ankle's, knees, hips and every other part of your body into submission. The Appalachian Trail is said to be the toughest trail, according to Elite Ultra Runner, Karl Meltzer. And we are going to do a good deal of it in the dark. It's hard enough to keep standing during the day with fresh legs. Add weak and beat up legs, sleep deprivation, and not being able to see that great into the mix and you have some really good stories to tell.
From Pen Mar Park to the top of Wolfsville Road, to me, that may be one of the hardest section's and if I am not mistaken, will be done at night. We "ran" it during the day and I had to stop a few times to just catch my breath and stretch. Snapping photos was my reason for stopping. But the main reason was because I was getting my butt handed to me. You just look at the trail and see this.....
...and this is what you see for miles and miles...hours upon hours. There's no real break from this type of terrain. It will be more a mental test than a physical test for me. I think I could make it even if I had to just walk-run and maintain a 20 minutes pace per mile. But knowing what lies ahead of me and knowing I have to go there will really test me. I wouldn't have entered if I didn't think I could complete it. We have run-hiked-walked all of the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail. There are some really good sections. You just have to go through the bad and real bad to get to them. It will be "fun" because if Steve Milburn doesn't get in (still on the wait list) he will be pacing us through the night. Brian Boyle will be running it and we made a pact to beat this beast. He is younger, stronger, and more fit, so he may leave me in the dust. Steve Dobson will be miles out in front of me but knowing at anytime I could "maybe" catch up to him will me keep going. The Catoctin is my hated Trail...the Appalachian will be my survival Trail. Then we get to the C&O Canal. I believe that is 88 miles in.
From there we run three or so miles on the flat Canal towards Maryland Heights. We tackled this in training on fresh legs, having run about 15 miles that day. I was beat afterwards! I can't imagine what it will feel like after 90 some miles.
The Maryland Heights section is brutal as well. The footing is just like the Appalachian at times. The trail is hard to pick up. Then there's the fact that you had just put in 95 miles before you head back down to the Canal. You actually end up finishing somewhere upstream on the C&O Canal so that's a good thing. I just hope I can walk-run at that time. One thing that will help my legs, or at least I hope they will, are my new Hoka OneOne Stinson B Combo XT running shoes.
They should be here in the coming days and I can't wait to test them out. They are supposed to absorb a great deal of impact from rocks and roots. They are also said to be awesome going down hills. I hope they help me beat the beast which is The Cat 100. This will be the most grueling thing I have ever done in my life. It will test my mental toughness as well as my physical. It will beat me until I beg to quit and then it will beat me some more. I welcome the challenge though. When I complete it I will have a thousand stories to tell and some really good photos. I will have the chance to run with friends and to see my friend, Brian. I have not seen him since the JFK 50 Mile Ultra a few year's ago. This will be his debut 100 and I hope to help him as much as he will help me. I will be out there running for Team Injinji and wearing the best toe sock on the market. I will have VESPA All Natural Amino Acid Supplement in my system. That will keep my mental clarity going when I want to quit. It will also help me burn my fat as fuel and keep my muscles burning on all the right levels. Most important to me, I will be running this for Mike Edenfield, our friend who unexpectedly passed away on Feb 29th at the age of 48. I know when I am in my most down times, he will be there helping me get through it. I can't wait.
I did want to add this real quick and say something about the RD, Jim Treece, and the many faithful and great volunteer's he will have along the course. For a mere $25.00, Jim will be putting on a class act race. He will be handing out Belt Buckles for the Finishers. He will be supplying food, drink, and whatever else he can muster up. For a small price you can even purchase a cool shirt. You can beat that!! There are races that are half that distance, and some marathon's that are over $200.00. Jim Treece loves and promotes this race, keeping the cost low and the spirits high. I am honored and proud to be a part of it. I want to thank Jim and the many volunteers who stay out there at all hour's to make us happy. You couldn't ask more from a race, an RD, or "His" crew. Thank You!
In short...Bring on the CAT 100 because I'm no Pussie...