Welcome to the

July 19th, 2003

Frank Dolen
"Best Blood"

This is Frank's second Wakely.  Last year, this Ridgefield CT senior parked his walker at the start and made the rest of us eat his dust.  He did that by slipping this dust into our beer after the race when we were not looking.  This year, Frank wasn't fooling around.  With Mike Cunningham in tow, "Francis" stormed across the dam in just 11:01:51 - almost a half hour quicker than last year.  

If we had age group winners, at 77 Frank would probably win at least one of them.  But we're cheap, and the only way I could figure to get Frank some special recognition was to trip him as he shuffled across the dam.  Good thing he doesn't have brittle bones... but he does bleed (blood thinners help there) - and for that Frank won one of our "Best Blood" awards.  Way to bleed Frank!  Frank's own account of his Wakely run can be found below.

Youngsters Frank & Mike make it look easy as they approach the dam.

Frank Dolen's Race Report:

Mike Cunningham and I ran our second Wakely Dam Ultra on July 19th in the lower southeastern Adirondacks in NY State. Runners assemble at 4:15 AM at a clearing near the dam for a 45 mile bus ride to the start of the race near Lake Piseco on the Northville-to-Lake Placid Trail. The race is point-to-point through the most deserted area of the Adirondack Forest. There are no water stops although there is plenty of lakes and streams. It's best to bring a filter or some iodine tablets to purify the water and kill those nasty giardia critters that cause stomach aches and diarrhea. Mike and I back-packed about 10 pounds of drink, food and emergency gear (we had to be prepared to spend the night on the trail if one of us was injured and couldn't go on, or we plain got lost or too tired to continue.) (me)

 The few camp sites at the finish line area were all filled this year because another group was spending the weekend at the site too, and they got there first. No camp site reservations are allowed at this site.

The morning before the race Betty and I had driven down a dirt road that started at the Wakely Dam in search of a campsite. We drove through the deep woods for 5 miles before we found one. Mike had come up later in the day and managed to find us before dark. The site had a tumbling brook nearby and this attracted all sorts of winged biting insects like black flies, deer flies and mosquitoes. They and we ate our suppers in a hurry. Mike pitched his tent and laid out his mattress in it. Betty and I had removed the back seats of our Plymouth van before we left Ridgefield. She had previously made foam rubber mattresses for the back where the seats had been so we didn't have to pitch a tent. We have camped all over the country, including Alaska in the van so this was nothing new to us. In fact it seemed like old times.

I had set my alarm for 3:45 but I awoke about 3:15. The morning was very cool, about 47 degrees just before dawn. The stars were magnificent and much brighter than in Ridgefield. We gulped down a cup of coffee that Betty had made and then Mike and I drove to the start in his car. Betty then retired to the van. Our camping area was deserted except for us but Betty, being an experienced camper and veteran of hiking the entire 2200 mile Appalachian Trail, promptly went back to sleep in the van. She drove to the finish later in the day.

Mike and I arrived at the dam where we were to meet the bus about 4:15 AM, but the bus didn't arrive. After waiting about a half hour for it to show up, Jim Houghtaling, our Race Director piled about 12 of us in a van and we drove to the start. The rest of the runners with the balance of Jim's race support staff managed to organize an impromptu  car pool and they too drove off to the start about 45 miles away at Lake Piseco. You can read all about this and other details about the race in: http://WakelyDam.com/

Jim's web site also includes topographic maps of the area of the trail, advice in what to bring with you, the results of the two previous races and this one too. It is the most comprehensive running-event site I've ever seen. It has won at least one major award for its comprehensiveness and overall design. At the time of this writing Jim had photographs of the first 18 runners as they finished and a short witty statement about each under the photo. Mike and I were near the end of the finishers. I hope that he eventually gets to us. I was bleeding slightly in one leg when they took my photo at the finish and acting like it was nothing. Which is was.   

We arrived at the start about 6:20 AM. The rest of the field (about 35 more) was still en-route. Mike and I and one other runner who also expected that he would need all the available daylight hours to finish asked permission from Jim to start right away. Jim said sure so we clicked our watches and started up the trail. It was a beautiful cool morning. Close to ideal conditions existed for running on a beautiful, scenic (and rocky in spots)  trail in the deep woods of the lower Adirondacks. How deep?, you may ask. Well, to our left it was about 30 miles of deep, dark woods before one encountered another road. On our right, it was only about 10 miles to the next road. For this reason it's wise to carry a compass and know how to use it. En-route we found brand new trail markers. Last year they were few and far between. This certainly contributed to our 25 minute better finishing time this year.

Because the web site contains topographic maps of the entire route I won't duplicate the description of it. We didn't have to use lake water for our filter bottles. There were plenty of rushing streams from which to fill up our filter bottles. The day was sunny yet slightly cooler than last year. We ran less and power-walked more. We also managed to jog in for the last two miles. We had previously walked/jogged up a slight incline for about 5 miles. Before that we mostly power-walked.

If anybody is interested in accompanying us next year I suggest getting your application in early. The State will only permit 50 runners in the race and there was a  long waiting list this year. I can't say too much about Jim Houghtaling's  management of the race. Jim makes you feel that he only put on the race for you. Check out his web site and see what I'm talking about.

Note to Mike Cunningham: I know that at the finish I swore up and down on a stack of worn trail maps that I would never apply to run this race again. However, I now find that it wasn't so bad after all. I've been going to the Adirondacks since I was about six years old. So why stop now?

Frank Dolen