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July 20th, 2002

Peter Collins

I'd say Peter Collins had a pretty good run.  Taking second place in his first trail run with a time of 5:34:22, this Canadian rocket burned up the course despite his propensity for bathing in the woods.  With all that bathing, it's perfectly safe for Peter to raise his arms. Here's Peter's story... in his own words:

  In short, it was amazing!!!!!! 32.6 miles (52.5km) of glorious Adirondack scenery. Sunny glades, calm lakes, meandering streams, green mountains and wildlife and we're talking wildlife here folks. Everything from a fire orange salamander that I coaxed off the trail before he got trampled, to numerous deer, to a couple of black bears that paced me for about 100 meters. You'll likely never see that in a road marathon. I started out easy, then tapered off to enjoy the views. I showered in waterfalls, took a dip into a few lakes, took in the views at the high points, and still came in second overall after 5 hours 34 minutes of running; I came in 13 minutes behind the winner but almost 2 hours ahead of last year's winning time. Will I do this race next year? You bet your sweet Bippy! See http://run.to/wakelydam for more details.

Long version:  Wow, fast start. Lots of speed demons. There goes Courtney racing to the front. Think I'll stay right here; besides it's not easy to pass on single track. Watch it Peter, don't run too close on the heels of those in front of you as you can't see where the trail goes nor all the rocks, roots, and branches that'll trip you up. Hang back, stay loose. You're not here to prove anything. You're new to trail racing and ultras so take it "Slow, Easy, Efficient". That and "Navigate" will be your mantras for this run.

Ah, this'll do nicely. Two miles in and all the speed demons have dropped back. I'm now the second runner and I'm tucked in between fellow Canadians Jim Morrison and his friend John Remington from the Toronto area. I call them "Jingle Twins" as they both have these little bells on their packs that constantly jingle and tinkle. I imagine they are to keep the bears away but I really doubt the presence of any bears in this neck of the woods considering the amount of traffic the Northville-Placid trail sees in a season. Without really knowing what I can expect from myself on my first real trail race, I optimistically target 6 hours. Both John and Jim had mentioned on the bus ride to the start that their thoughts were in the same 6-7 hour ballpark. Where are the fast runners though? I don't feel comfortable so far up front. It's certainly a new experience.

Three miles in, and both John and Jim have dropped back. Now I'm running behind Mike Yoder (Bib#32) and feeling comfortable. Mike's 2-bottle fanny pack is really bouncing around. That would really irritate me. I'm happy with my new Camelbak waist belt. It's working out well so far but I wonder if I've brought enough water. I only have 1.4L on me and although I have water purifying tablets with me, I'm thinking that I should be fine for this run based on previous experience even if it does get hot later (and it's supposed to).

Four miles in, and I'm alone in front. Mike stopped for a pee break saying he'd catch up again shortly. Hmmm ... I wonder if he's just being polite. Maybe he was bored with my conversation, or didn't like the comment about his fanny pack. The ultra running scene is known for the camaraderie between runners, and the friendly trail conversations; but I'm getting lonely. As I reach the Fall Stream crossing (4.4 miles) I slow down in anticipation of being caught by the faster runners I know are back there somewhere. Besides, I am really getting all sticky breaking trail through all the spider webs.

Between miles 5 & 6, I finally have company on the trail ... sort of. I figure I have just surprised 2 large deer and they are now running scared through the bush just in front of me. I start clapping to warn them of my location. Although I don't see them, I hear one turn and bolt perpendicular to the trail to my right. The second continues to make a lot of noise in its efforts to evade me as it runs parallel to the trail ahead and to my right. Then I see it cut left and barrel across the trail not 25 yards in front of me and crash off into the bush to my left. "That's a funny looking deer!" I think, "All big, black and furry like that." "Perhaps I shouldn't hang around here too long before those two bears realize that I'm the intruder here".

Over the next 14 miles, I continue to amass quite a spider web collection. Where are those fast runners? I'm way ahead of my 6 hour race pace and simply loving the course. I have passed some beautiful scenery, sunny glades, calm lakes, and meandering streams. I've stopped to coax a fire orange salamander off the trail before he gets trampled, I even glimpsed some real deer bound out of view as I plod along.

The sun and the temperatures are both now getting up there but I'm confident in my hydration strategy. I am drinking dilute Gatorade every 15 minutes and sucking back a Cliffshot gel every hour into the run. At every water access point I find I am showering myself to keep cool. I even relish shaking the dew off the branches as I pass under them. I am simply having a grand time of it. But where are the racers? Aside from the barking dog I heard at Spruce lake and the small group of hikers I saw filtering water at West Canada Creek, I have still not seen any sign of anyone since Mike's pee break. The hikers ask me if I am in a race. In spite of the big number 15 on my chest, I say "not really" with a smile. I ask them if they'd be so kind as to tell the next runner that I'm 30 minutes ahead just to psych them out. That got a giggle or two.

Shortly after crossing the Mud Creek bridge (mile 18.4), I once again have company as John Waldron catches up to me. I let John break the spider webs for a mile or two and realize that I will not be staying with him for very long. I don't have it in me to run up the hills like he is. To really put me in my place, John lets slip that he is a sub-3 hour road marathoner working on 2:30. I feel really out of my league. I call John "my Kenyan" and let him slip away as I walk up Cobble Hill to the highest point on the course. I see him once again briefly on the Cobble Hill backside but will not see him again until the finish. At the Cedar Lake outlet dam junction (mile 23.1), I fear that John may have taken the wrong trail branch and crossed the dam as I once again encounter those sticky spider-webs across the trail. "For John's sake, I hope it's just overly proficient spiders", I think.

At 3h45m into the run, I become grateful for the up slopes in the trail and the excuse to walk. Fortunately, the long down slope from Cedar Lake down to and through the lowlands prior to Lamphere Ridge keeps me moving with some semblance of speed. Upon reaching the tote "road" junction (mile 27.1), the Sun is really starting to warm things up and bring the deer flies out. I begin to really wish I'd bought a hat with me; not so much for the sun as for the flies that constantly keep flying into and around the back of my head. They begin to bother me so much that I take to wearing a tree branch stuck down the back of my shirt that brushes the back of my head with every stride to keep the flies away. Surprisingly, it works as long as I don't stop running.

After yet another quick shower in one of many cross-streams, I push on with aspirations of a second place finish, (really I'm not competitive, honest). Rounding Sturgess Hills with 2 miles to go, I can smell the finish but darn it if I am going to pass up the chance to take a dip in the Cedar River Flow. Wow, that feels Goooood in the now blazing sun. "Now let's finish this little 'Romp in the Adirondack Park'".

Except for the odd bit of walking, I cruise through the last mile and a bit, and actually skip, hop, and jump across the Wakely Dam to the finish line. "OK, can I stop now?" I joke as the volunteer crew snaps some pictures.

After another dip in the lake, and a change of shoes, I hang out at the finish to watch the next 10 or so runners come in before needing to head home.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable run. Okay, I guess I can call it a race now. After all, the first 19 runners beat last year's course record time and John Waldron the winner beat this time by more than 2 hours.

A super congrats out to the organizers and participants for making this low-key run a high class event; one to remember AND anticipate.

Peter Collins

Thank you for sharing your photos Peter!