by Jim Pugh

I was ready for a relaxed run using the same strategy as two years ago: try to run at a 10-minute per mile pace and walk the many hills.  I went out a little too fast with the second pack of runners.  Several of us reached the Sampson Bog outlet (12.7 miles) together.  They were the last runners I saw until John Ehntholt overtook me at the bridge at 27.5 miles.  I like the solitude. 

The trail was in superb shape.  The blowdowns were cut away by chainsaw, and a trail crew had brushed back many sections – which made for good visibility of footing.  The long horizontal logs set in the trail for crossing marshy areas were less slippery than last year, but still needed caution.  

I reached the halfway mark at 2:52, about ten minutes faster than two years ago.  Perhaps the heat would catch up with me, so I determined to run cautiously.  I continued to walk the hills, even the modest ones.  I began to drink water at 20-minute intervals rather than the planned 30 minutes.  

This was my fourth Wakely run, and I think I have pinned down the good water stops:  

              4.4 miles      Fall Stream                            flows to runner’s right
            6.8 miles      Jessup River *                        flows right
            12.7 miles      Sampson Bog outlet*           flows left
            16.6 miles      stream from West Lake *      flows right
            19.6 miles      stream from King’s Pond     flows left
            24.4 miles      stream from Beaver Pond    flows right

Runners can access other streams and lakes along the course with a sometimes steep bushwhack, but these offer the most convenient access to flowing water.  The streams with an asterisk (*) are large enough to fill a CamelBak easily.  I downed 120 ounces of water during the run (much of it laced with Gookinaid, and with purification tabs in the stream water).  

I like to have extra water on me for the last five miles (just in case), so I was sure to fill up at the last stream described above.  It is a pretty dry run after that.  

I enjoyed the company of some feathered friends.  A pair of loons sang up a chorus at Spruce Lake .  Another loon was calling on Cedar Lakes .  The distinctive trill of white-throated sparrows greeted me several times in the middle of the run.  Normally I associate these lovely birds (I saw one up close for the first time last summer on Allen Mountain ) with the summits of the Adirondack high peaks.  

There are some super nice running stretches of trail in the second half of the course, particular after passing the Cedar Lakes Dam at 23.1 miles.  One of the keys to enjoying Wakely is to have enough in the reserve tank to enjoy these mild sections of springy pine needles.  

So I just kept plugging along.  There was an adventure on the bridge at 27.5 miles.  I was hopping up its steps – forgetting the steps on a hikers bridge are not flush and square.  My left leg missed a rung entirely and went straight down into the gap.  Luckily my torso stopped moving forward just before I heard a snap.  The resulting scrape on the shin is much preferable to the alternative.  I reached this bridge at 5:06, so I knew I had a good shot at six hours unless the wheels came off.  

I have mixed feelings about the last five miles.  On one hand they seem interminable with a steady slight uphill.  On the other hand the footing is easy and one doesn’t have to worry about rocks and roots anymore.  There is some mental peace of mind.  

In any case, it is great to reach the gravel road, and eventually the park cabin that means the dam is just a bit down through the parked cars.  The last 200 yards are the one easy part of the run.  

Thanks, Jim and Eric and the whole Wakely Dam race crew!  You give us runners a superb experience in a gorgeous part of the Adirondack Park .  And you do it with spirit and style.  

(Note – canine Meg was ready to run with me again this year, but the forecast was too hot.  I figure 75 degrees is the maximum for a dog to do a distance run.)