Every time I go back to New York City I grow to enjoy it a bit more. On my first real trip over in adulthood, I felt like a fish out of water. Piggybacking on a popular ski town insult denoting ineptitude on the mountain, my boss labeled me an “urban gaper” due to my palpable discomfort in the Big Apple. Now I’ve got the subway lines memorized, can keep up with the freakish walking speed of the locals, and can genuinely enjoy the sheer insanity that makes this city so special. Plus, the Hypoxico office is in the middle of Manhattan and my visits are always highly productive and stimulating from a professional perspective.
This trip happened to fall the same week as the TNF50, held in Bear Mountain State Park - a short 45 minute drive North of the city. Having never raced on the East Coast, and needing a last big tune up race before Western States, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. After a fun week in the office, Hypoxico CEO, Brian Oestrike and I headed up north Friday afternoon for a quick course preview jog. Having completed the race three times himself, Brian assured me that it was really “not that technical.” Of course, this was coming from a dude who’s climbed Everest and who had done UTMF a few days earlier. Needless to say, he has a skewed interpretation of the word “technical”. On our short jaunt, I realized that I was not in Marin anymore and that the following day’s race would be about as nasty as ultras come in North America. Good thing I brought my ankle brace.
The race itself played out in near identical fashion as Sean O’Brien. I ran with the leaders early including Mike Wolfe, three-time champ Jordan McDougal, and two French Canadians whom I’d never met (Flourent Bouguin and Jeff Gosselin). Somewhere around 20 miles, it thinned down to Wolfepaw, Jordan and myself. By around 30 miles, I could tell Mike and Jordan were fading ever so slightly, so I put in a tiny surge. When I saw I had a bit of separation, I hit the gas and hammered all the way home. Overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I don’t consider myself a particularly good technical runner and the flooded trails made for some pretty heinous conditions. That said, I think I handled it all pretty well and got some really valuable mental training accomplished for Western.
I really hope more people go out to race on the East Coast. The trails are as scenic as they are gnarly and there seems to be a really vibrant trail crowd in the area. I’m really happy with my experience.
Big thanks to all my sponsors, Hypoxico, and coach Koop, whose leadership and guidance has truly changed me as an athlete. Head down for the next seven weeks. See you in Squaw.