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2016-10-22 - Patapsco 50k with Stephanie

~31.4 miles @ ~15.0 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Patapsco_50k_old_burned_farmhouse_2016-10-22_t.jpg"It's an ULTRA, not an ACCURATE!" Stephanie tells the guys standing around an unmanned aid station, debating how much farther they have to go. We're doing the Patapsco Valley 50k (which turns out to be quite close to 50 km by my GPS). The day is beautiful, chill and windy, and the course is likewise lovely with steep hills, wide meadows, waterfalls, stream crossings, and lots of rocks and roots to trip on. Thankfully we don't stumble (much), though by the final miles my right ankle is rather achy.
After one climb we find a rescue squad clustered around a man strapped into a stretcher. He's grinning, and it looks like an evacuation exercise rather than an emergency. Tiny blue flowers line the trail. Stephanie points out places where last year, running solo, she missed turns and repeated loops for multiple bonus miles.http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Patapsco_50k_Danger_Man_z_2016-10-22_t.jpg
http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Patapsco_50k_stone_tunnel_z_2016-10-22_t.jpgA furry caterpillar crawls along a railing that we have to clamber over. "Don't crush it!" I beg the runner behind me. Weathered stone arches lead into tunnels along the "Old Main Line" of the B&O Railroad. Trail talk, as always, ranges across the cosmos of ideas and experiences. Wind gusts of 30+ mi/hr roar through the treetops. Gigantic leaves, blown down perhaps from paulownia trees, bring fig-leaf Freudian associations to mind, as does a huge cleft boulder that we climb. Say no more!
"Be Awesome!" is our advice to a young woman struggling up a hill who admits she feels tempted to drop at mile 20. Comrade John Hord runs with us mid-race; multiple other good friends greet us before/during/after the event. (Hi, amazing Adeline!) We pursue "The Pink Lady", who turns out to be Carol, an Ironman and grandmother enjoying her second ultramarathon. We sprint the final mile to the finish and collect our reward: hand-made ceramic mugs. Neat!http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Patapsco_50k_happy_finish_stephanie_fonda_z_2016-10-22_t.jpg

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-11-18