May 4th 2013, Bear Mountain trails, New York.
333 runners at the start, combined elevation gain: 4,854 ft. Distance – 50K (31 mile).
Very technical rocky and hilly trail. This course has the highest “Overall Difficulty” and “Technical Terrain” rating of North Face Endurance Challenge races.
Here is a video that gives a good idea of the course:
This race has a special meaning to me because my first ever trail runs happened there, my first ultra race was there, and most of my solo trail training was done on these rocky trails. I consider Bear Mt to be my home turf, this is my place to train, reflect, relax, and draw the inspiration from this temple called “nature”.
Two years after I first time raced on this beautiful course, I now finally completed the mission and achieved what feels like the fastest run I can ever do on this rocky trail.
Almost everything from training and preparation to all details during the race day went perfectly. It was my first real race in past months, I was a bit overtrained but certainly well-conditioned to go fast. My spring training included few small wins at short running races and one very hard road cycling race. In the weeks before this race I averaged about 80mi/week of running training, both trail and road (with occasional long bike rides).
The day before my race I was loading up on fruit, as usually. Barely got any sleep at night but still felt well in the morning.
Right after the start I went ahead and was running completely alone since mile 2 or 3, enjoying familiar trails without much concern about possible chase.
Running Flying Free
Last year I similarly sprinted away shortly after start, but got caught about 5 miles before the end and finished 3rd with 4h41m after a very hard effort. This year I trained harder and was counting on finishing around 4:35.
My run went extremely well, I felt fast and light, barely stopping at the aid stations. During the last 5-6 miles some muscle fatigue started to settle in, so I had to do some mental “pushing” in order to keep my fast pace.
Finishing moments were exhilarating, just complete happiness. I sprinted last few hundred feet at a very fast pace and even forgot to look at my finish time. I felt great after finishing, even ran half-a-mile to my hotel to take a shower.
About 30 minutes after I finished, the second place runner was still nowhere in sight, and I became curious about my race time (I usually don’t race with a watch). When I looked at the screen with my finish time I was very surprised.
Final Result: 4:13:30, this is 8:10 min/mi average pace, beating previous course record by 9 minutes! (the race is being held every year since 2008). Second place runner (Marc Boivin, Canada) finished 47 minutes behind me with 5:00:03, only 17 seconds ahead of the 3rd place runner.
Huge thanks to all my friends (especially Elena Makovskaya) for incredible support !
This is just the beginning!
Few days the after the race I had a very mild muscle soreness (only while running), but it didn’t stop me from having a regular-volume training day on Monday.
Next stop – 100 miles on the mountain trails of Virginia on May 18th (infamous MMT100 race).
More about North Face Endurance Challenge: