| Crotalus horridus, aka the Timber Rattlesnake, the only rattler found in Maryland. This one is hiding peacefully under a patch of ferns by the Catoctin Trail at mile 12 of the 2013 Catoctin 50k race. I wouldn't have noticed it if a group of runners ahead of me hadn't been walking circuitously through the bushes to avoid it. When I pause to take photos of it, creeping closer and closer, after the fourth snapshot it rattles (or rather, buzzes) at me to let me know that it has had enough of that! I scamper safely away.|
2013 is an odd-numbered year, and luck is with me as it was in 2009 and 2011. The course is tougher than it was a few years ago, a mile or so longer due to trail re-routing after segments near Fishing Creek suffered erosion. Official results put me crossing the line in 8:34:44 — 125th out of 144 who make it within the cutoffs, sixth of nine age 60 or older. Not as good as the 7:53 of 2009, but better than the 9:04 of 2011!
|This dramatic and almost-symmetric elevation profile of the out-and-back terrain is from the Garmin GPS which says 31.96 miles; Runkeeper using the iPhone GPS measures 33.08 miles. Compare with data from the 2008 report and the map in 2010, even numbered years when I DNF'd but enjoyed the company of Caren Jew and Kate Abbott respectively. To avoid the jinx I was cowardly and skipped 2012.|
This time I meet a flock of great people: veterans James Morgan and Gary Knipling, young Sonya Bingham whom I run with for the first few miles, beer-loving Patty Beauchesne, tattooed Tom Mitchell, sweeper Mark McKennett, Race Director Kevin Sayers, MCRRC comrade Ron Ely, ... so many good memories!
|I begin almost DFL as shown in a video of the start — look for me ~20 sec in, near Tom with late arrivals Ron and Sonya close behind. I also appear in a Catoctin 50k video report by the Frederick News-Post — note the back of the ^z noggin featured in the first seven seconds, as I move Tom into position for a pre-race photo by the banner. The race is covered in "Catoctin 50K 'suffer-fest' a mettle test", an article in the Frederick News-Post by Graham Cullen.|
As for my perspective on the event: I drive up early, start late, and experience some delay in the traffic jam when, after the initial parking-lot loop, we queue up to enter the narrow trail. I arrive at the first aid station, Hamburg Rd, with only 7 minutes or so to spare. After that scary scene the rest of the trek is comfortably ahead of the cutoffs, 25 minutes to the good at the halfway point and 40 minutes ahead by the finish. I pass Gary Knipling as he accompanies Johanna Lockner along a rough stretch of trail. A welcome thunderstorm drenches the final half-dozen miles. It makes the rocks slippery, but by this point I'm mostly walking anyway.
On the nutrition front, I discover that grapes and grilled cheese sandwich squares fit nicely into pockets for later nibbling. I enjoy a slice of pizza and an ice pop during the return trip. Watermelon is welcome at several aid stations, as is beer and of course water to refill my hydration backpack's bladder. Helpful volunteers add ice which is a boost.
At the Scenic Overlook rock pile I pause to be photographed by a friendly fellow traveler. And during the entire journey I only fall down once — yay!