Tuesday, 24 November 2015 20:42

Wild Hare 50 Ultra Trail Run Race Report

Wild Hare 50, the ultra trail run that was to take place a month after Ironman Maryland and be the kick start to my ultra trail running season......SUPPOSED TO BE.

Wild Hare 50, the ultra trail run that took place two weeks after Ironman Florida and be the kick start to my ultra trail running season with a BOOM......ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

The fact that I am writing an ultra trail run race report so soon after an Ironman race report seems extremely odd but gives me a lot of satisfaction about what I can do and what I can expect when I race Coldwater Rumble 100 in January.

On Friday, November 13th I drove from Dallas to Round Top and it was an uneventful ride. I got to the rental house around the same time as my friends Jeff and Elizabeth who were also going to be racing the 50 miler. This was going to be Elizabeth's first attempt at this distance but coming off her win at Little Rocky 50k I was not worried about her covering the course.

When we walked through the doors of the house I was mezmerized. This house seemed like something off the screen of the HGTV channel. It was perfect in every way. I was very excited that another endurance race weekend was going to be spent with friends and in a terrific house.

As we moved around the house we decided to start packing our gear for Saturday. As we were chatting the conversation turned to what time we needed to wake up because of the drive to the start. When Jeff said we needed to wake up at 3am I nearly broke down in tears. I had a tantrum because it was only two weeks prior that I woke up at 3am to try and stuff calories and coffee down my face and could not process having to do it again. After a few minutes I got over it because the rest of the crew showed up and we were now into preparing for dinner.

When the alarm went off at 3:02am I climbed out of bed and got dressed and into the kitchen to try and swallow rice cakes, peanut butter, banana and coffee. At 3:45am we jumped into the car and drove to the race sight. The feeling at an ultra is completely different than the feeling at an Ironman. With Ironman comes a load of nerves and energy from 2,500 people that an ultra does not have. Wild Hare 50 had about 80 people registered. There were others there for the 50k and 25k but since their races did not start until 6am and 7am, respectively, the amount of people was not at full capacity.

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About 5 minutes before the start we made it to the barn to prepare to race. The idea was to run together since this was Elizabeth and Greg's first 50 miler while Jeff and I were there to collect Texas Trail series points and racing was not at the top of the list. Countdown gets to zero and the first steps are taken. The course is designed to be six (6) 7.8 miles loops with a 3.2 mile loop to end the race.

The weather had been really nice so we expected a runnable trail but that ended quickly as we found ourselves running through mud and at one point through a puddle that was knee to hip deep. After we finished a portion of the trail we were directed left and seemed to be running the same trail again. As a matter of fact we were running the same trail and confusion set in. Anger then set in after we ran through the puddle a second time. With that loop finished we hit an aid station and realized we did the smaller loop first and now were on our way to the remaining 7.8 mile loops.

The first two loops presented challenges in the form of darkness as well as loose footing but since three of us (Greg broke away toward the end of loop 1) were together and having a good time it made the running go by fast. The course presents a handful of variables that can be challenging. There is a lot of single-track running, open field running, very deep descents, short vertical ascents and a lot of switchbacks.

When we were done with the first two loops I thought to myself that I need to treat this like a 5k in the mental sense. In a 5k we are extremely euphoric about the first mile and go out too hard, then hate the second mile and when the third mile comes we just want to be done and find a kick. This was going to be my mental state for the 6 loops where 2 loops would be a 'mile' in the 5k sense. During loop 3 I found myself getting ahead of Jeff and Elizabeth and both told me to go ahead. I hung with them but by the end of loop 4 I was still feeling very strong and pulled away. Now I was running loops 5 and 6 on my own. This is where the mental challenge picks up.

To combat this scenario I treated the last two loops as if they were 4x4 mile runs. Only focus on the 4 miles and get aid station to aid station. I grabbed two Oreos, Gatorade and Coke and off I went. About halfway through the first 4 mile loop I saw a friend of mine (Chris Oles) running on a switchback above me and noted the time. When I ran past that same spot I realized I was 6 minutes behind him and on this course that meant approximately 0.5 to 0.75 mi behind. I took it as a challenge to catch him and I ran harder. I also kept in mind that I wanted to break 10 hours on this course on this day.

As I finished loop 5 I noticed the time on the clock read 8:10:51 and I knew I had 1 hour and 50 minutes to cover the nearly 8 mile loop. If my math was right I had 110 minutes for 8 miles which was approximetly 14:00/mi. I could do this I thought. As I was going to grab Oreos, Gatorade,  and Coke I saw Greg. I told him that we could break 10 hours and he responded.......I just want this over with. I headed out hoping he would latch himself to my hip.

When I went around the pond and headed to an uphill into the wind section I saw Greg behind and thought that he was going to stay with me. After a few miles into the woods I no longer heard Greg's footsteps and knew I was truly on my own. About a mile after that I saw Chris and took note of the time. I ran to that same point and was now 3 minutes behind him. If I could push I could catch him I thought and so I started running a bit harder. Simultaneously I noticed Greg on a few switchbacks and thought he was about 4-6 minutes behind me which meant he was not letting off the gas as much as he had earlier and I was really happy that he was going to finish strong.

As I got closer to pine needles I knew I was only about 0.5 miles shy of the finish line and that this race was over. What I did not know was how long I was on the course because my watch died around the 45 mile mark and I also had no clue where Chris was. This last section of pine needles has some twists and turns through the woods but then drops you off by a camping section where participants and spectators are and they were cheering for me as I finished.

Loop 5 Of Wild Hare 50 To Start

I looked up from the ground and through the barn to see the time of 9:44 and a smiling Chris. I did not have the juice to catch him but I did break 10 hours. Chris ran a masterful race and considering he just ran the Cactus Rose 100 three weeks prior I told him how unbelievable his run was and gave him all the kudos in the world. His response: I was not going to let an Ironman catch me on the trails. This told me he knew exactly where I was just like I knew exactly where he was.

After walking around to our drop bags and gathering my clothes I picked up my phone. I had a message from Karen and she was yelling into the phone that I finshed 10th overall and 3rd in my age group. I could not have been happier with the results considering that I raced an Ironman two weeks prior. Knowing that I could break 10 hours on a trail with 3,000 feet of elevation without proper trianing, recovery and taper gave me confidence that a sub 24 hour race in the desert at Coldwater Rumble was certainly possible.

Finish Results - Wild Hare 50

Congrats to Chris on a masterful trail season. Congrats to Greg and Elizabeth on their first 50 mile finishes. Congrats to my buddy Jeff who makes these long and pain enducing races fun. Our group also included Annie and Caroline who ran the 25k and Jim who did his best to support us and keep us updated on the Notre Dame-Boston College game as most of us were fading into unconsciousness.

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Wild Hare 50 Group Next Day Before Eating At Royer's

Published in Race Reports
RUNNER'S SPOTLIGHT: CLAUDIA SPOONER

Claudia Spooner doesn’t believe in excuses.

It is why she is able to train three times a day. It is why she isn’t afraid to keep pace with the elite men in every trail run she enters. It is why – at age 40, with two young children and a surgically-repaired knee – she is the best female trail runner in Texas.

She proved that again on Aug. 21 when she was the first overall female finisher at the XTERRA Austin Trail Run.

That race was the third event in the XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series in 2010, and Spooner was the top overall female at all three of the races. Perhaps more impressive, she finished among the top 10 overall at each race, including a second-place finish at the XTERRA Waco Trail Run in May.

“Waco was an absolute thrill for me,” she said. “When I saw that finisher’s ribbon, I felt like crying. I was so super-excited. It’s a feeling no one could ever take away … to be second overall, even against the men, was huge to me and completely unexpected.”

But a look at her daily schedule helps explain things. Spooner is the founder and head trainer of the “I Run I Tri” program based in Austin, Texas. In a nutshell, she trains endurance athletes of all levels.

“I’m real hands-on, I like to know what my clients are doing every minute of the day,” Spooner said.

As a result, Spooner is not afraid to train several times a day – early in the morning for her own race preparation, then later in the day with her clients. A typical week might include 8,000 meters of swimming, 200 miles of biking, and 60 miles of running.

Spooner started as a road marathon runner, and then took up triathlons 11 years ago after knee surgery caused her to take a break from running and try swimming and biking.

Most recently, XTERRA trail runs have become her favorite type of racing. “Trail runs are flat out fun,” she said. “Road racing can be sometimes very monotonous … with trails, you have up and down, side to side; your core and upper body has to be strong. You have to have nimble feet and be able to recover from big uphills on your downhills.”

Because many XTERRA events feature a trail run on a Saturday, then an off-road triathlon on Sunday, Spooner will often do the trail run, then give tips to her triathlon clients on what to expect on the trail.

“I usually have four or five athletes who do the triathlon, so I’m out there for them as well,” she said. “I’ll tell them where the tough parts of the course are … that is, if I can remember myself. Some of those courses are really tough.”

What’s more, Spooner does it all while also playing mother to her son Cameron, who is 6, and daughter Morgan, 4. Not surprisingly, she never used motherhood as an excuse to stop training.

“If you could see my jogging stroller, you would know I have gotten my money’s worth,” she said. “I have had the wheels rebuilt twice.”

Her husband, Rob, also happens to be one of her clients, even though he started doing triathlons before she did, and is responsible for getting her to take up swimming and biking while recovering from her knee injuries.

Claudia and Rob will both compete at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Bend, Ore., on Sept. 18, and Claudia is considered a legitimate contender for the overall women’s title.

Spooner still competes in triathlons and road races, and would like to see trail runs become more popular, especially in her gender and age group. After all, she is proof that on an uneven trail, a 40-year-old mother can compete evenly with anybody.

“I think women get intimidated,” she said. “It looks too hard, but they don’t realize you don’t run the same way on trails as you do on the roads. Your body gets stronger all over when you are running trails.”

For information on Spooner’s training program, visit http://www.irunitri.com/.

Check out the XTERRA Waco Trail Run Video on Facebook
Published in Uncategorized