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Sometimes, I collect my thoughts in writing before a big race. I haven’t done that for awhile now, but Manitou’s Revenge, now just over 2 weeks away, is a BIG race. I’ve been training hard for this one with around 500 miles logged in the first 5 months of the year. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but almost all of that has been on steep trails having covered +/-170,000′ in elevation change, and at least half those miles were run in snow and sub-zero temps.

I’ve worked hard and then some.  This race demands that just to get to the starting line. Because it’s run on trails that eat people alive. The Escarpment Trail, Long Path, the Devil’s Path… this race covers the toughest sections of ALL of them. A dozen peaks, +/-34,000′ of elevation change, and hand over fist climbs and descents all packed into 54 miles of technical trail littered with far more roots and rocks than dirt. Given what I know of this race, I’ve been approaching it as a 100 miler. Frankly, you’d be stupid not to be scared shitless of Manitou’s (course profile below). During last year’s Escarpment Trail Run I had a fellow competitor tell me perfectly straight-faced that Manitou’s was the hardest race he’d ever done. He was wearing a Hardrock 100 finisher’s t-shirt.


2014’s races made me very comfortable taking on big (for me) courses. I’m a lot less intimidated by steeps and rocks and cold and heat and the idea of really long distances than I used to be. That said, I’m maintaining a healthy sense of intimidation going into this race. It’s a beast. But I’m confident in how Manitou’s is going to go, it’s not a roll of the dice. I’m ready physically and mentally. I will finish the race (barring injury or missed time cut-off ), no doubt in my mind. If all goes very well it will take me somewhere around 18 hours. It’s going to be beautiful and it’s going to be fun. And it’s going to hurt. I fully expect this race to push me far beyond my breaking point both physically and mentally. I already know that it will be the single hardest thing I have ever attempted athletically. But I’ve grown to enjoy that unknown space.

So, why do this? Well, for one, because I love being in the mountains. And the Catskill Mountains really are some of the best. Getting to cover this much mountain terrain in one push is a pretty amazing feeling of accomplishment. And, two, because I love finding out what I’m made of. These races have a way of pushing you beyond your own limits. Discovering what you’re capable of is an addicting and life-altering experience.

I’ve put in the time. The climb. The miles. The pre-dawn mountain repeats. Now it’s time to heal/recover, taper, and go tackle this beast on June 20th. Can’t wait!


(Images – Top: Sunrise view of thunderstorms from Clark Gully’s East Rim. Credit: Murphy. Image – Bottom: Descending Clark Gully’s East Rim Trail during a recent training run. Credit: Eric Eagan.)

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