y Alex Barth

This was my second Wakely.  To give you an idea of the impression the first one left on me - I had surgery on February 4th, after begging the Doctor for the earliest time possible and immediately started the rehab process with July in mind.  I was sold on Wakely after last year, in spite of getting worked over by the course.  It concluded with the blowing up of my right heel, forcing me to get it taken care of and miss the fall of 2008 racing season.  Everything was laid out in as organized fashion as possible – surgery in February, my first week of running in mid-March, a 50K in May, a fast Marathon in June.  By July 18th I would be as ready as I could be to go after that 4.54 Ian put up last year.  Two weeks before the race I received a phone call from Ian, informing me that his knees were not going to let him race.  Bummer!  Ian was an integral part of the Wakely experience in 2008 (see 08 race report) and being as I have run my best races against great competitors that have forced me to go above and beyond – I needed and wanted him there!  After wrapping my head around his absence, I got extra diligent about the taper as the road marathon in June had left my legs feeling heavy the last couple of weeks of training.  Had I done it too close to Wakely?

 I was fortunate to get a campsite by the Dam late Friday afternoon.  I had tried to take a back way from Pennsylvania up Route 81 and the 6.5 hour drive had taken over 7, leaving me very frustrated and worried that I would have to drive even further down the endless Cedar River Road.   The prospect of setting up camp on the Moose River Plains with darkness falling around me was not something I wanted to do.  After setting up camp, the normal sleepless night before a race left me tired although bringing an inflatable mattress was definitely the move, at least I was comfortable!  I normally enjoy a diet rich in fiber and had cut it Thursday morning in an effort to limit the gastro-intestinal distress I sometimes get at these races (it is a never-ending experiment).  I stuck to plain pasta, cinnamon pop tarts, bananas, grape juice, and plain bagel with peanut butter.  It worked great and I took some special notes so as to repeat the process this fall at the longer races.  A rain (heavy at times) fell on my tent as I tossed and turned, trying my best to visualize a successful race the next day and wondering just how messy the course would be.

 I was up way before the bus came bouncing into camp.  Sleep is such a vital thing & I had been up Thursday morning EARLY with our 7 month old Dawson, paying my dues for yet another weekend away … oh well.  I was as rested as I was going to be.  On the bus I chatted with a really nice guy named Rick the whole way out.  As always can be found at trail races, the group of participating runners were very friendly, laid back, and just pumped to be at such a beautiful setting, rain or not.  I also met a guy named Greg from Burlington, VT by way of Alaska who sat behind me.  Nice people!  I was anxious to see my friend John Ehntholt at the start, who I met at Wakely last year.  We had become close since then and had run Lake Placid Marathon together in June.  It would be nice to see him again.  He had been running LONG, doing lots of miles, and was using this as a “warm-up” for a 100K he is doing at the end of August.

John informed me at the start that a nice size bear had been spotted nearby.  Nice!  I always search for wildlife whether in PA, NY, NH, or ME and never see anything.  I would prefer not running across one out on the course, especially not one standing between me and Wakely Dam!  I made it a point to get out early and went out aggressively, with Ryan Smith in tow.  I knew Alan Evans, who had run a 5.09 last year, but did not recognize Ryan.  I wanted to make the clearing at West Canada Lakes by 2 hrs and 20 minutes at the latest and rolled through at 2 hrs 16 min.  The course up to this point was wet, but not horribly bad in terms of mud.  It could also be that fresh legs were handling it well.  I had to slow down for safety reasons (as I am sure everyone else did also) on all the wooden foot bridges that were slick as if covered by ice. I was taking in gels every 20-25 minutes and throwing in some Mojo bars along the way – striving for the 200+ calories per hour that I know I need.  I refilled my bottles once (so four for the race) probably one time too few but I was trying to move as fast as possible and felt good throughout.  

The course got annoyingly muddy on the flip side of Cedar Lakes and then through sections along the Cedar River up toward Lamphere Ridge.  I would guess it was as much a result of my legs tiring as anything else.  As all Wakely runners know, the final, tough test comes once you head away from the Cedar River at the last lean to.  That section stinks, even though it was dry!  This part of the course makes you wish for some uneven, rolling, muddy, rooty, and rocky terrain.  It ends up being remembered as a non-technical, gradual uphill that never ends.  At the sign that reads 4.4 miles to the finish by the Carry lean to I was within reach & I could smell it.  Once I THOUGHT I hit the final trail section that kind of levels out and takes you up to the road I cranked it up.  I am sure too much and too soon because it wasn’t long before I was begging for that gate to show itself.  I noticed a lack of blue trail markers and started to panic that I had ended up on the wrong path somehow.  I actually stopped and started yelling expletives at whatever could hear me.  Are you kidding me!  The 4.54 at this point was out of reach.  I pressed forward.  Finally, finally, the road was in front of me and I put together a nice pace, realizing that sub-5 was going to be close.  Thank goodness I came in under 5 by a hair, because if I had missed by a less than a minute or so I would not have been happy.  On the way home, as soon as I had cell service, I called Ian and let him know that the Adirondack Mud had helped him keep that course record…. For this year!!  I later found out that my good friend John had rolled an ankle early in the race (easy to do on this course) and had gritted his way through.  X-rays the next day ruled out a break and he will hopefully be ready to go for his next race.

 Thanks for a great event again Jim & all the volunteers!  I must keep coming back to this one – the experience is too valuable.  So I will see you in 2010!