Friday, May 1, 2015

TARC Spring Classic 50km 2015 - Race Report

I volunteered for the TARC Spring Classic races last year and had a great time hanging out with friends and seeing what a race looks like from the volunteers' standpoint. The "trail race festival"offers a few different distances: 10km, Half Marathon, Marathon, and 50km that consist roughly of 10km loops which bring you back to the start/finish aid station. There is a great atmosphere that TARC(Trail Animals Running Club) provides and it was good to see that there were many people that I know signed up this year.

Preparing for the Spring Classic 50k over the last four weeks since my last 50k run, had me trying to put in a little less mountain running time and a little more training on double track trails. In terms of the long runs, I never ran over 17 miles on a single run, but still felt confident enough in my base mileage to at least attempt to go for a sub-4hr finish. I figured if I could run a few 45 minute 10k loops (there are 5 on the 50k course) to start with, that would give me a cushion to go slower on the last two, which is usually inevitable for me. Never running on the course in prior years, I relied on strava data and elevation profiles from last year to get any sense of the trails.

I'm on the right running with (L-R) Loren Newman, Peter Lawry, Kevin Tilton. Loren would go on to win the race in 3:47:33. Photo by Edith Dixon.

Tall pines. Photo by Lindsay Topham at Topham Photo.

L-R Billy Preston, myself, Adam Wilcox, Kevin Tilton. Photo by Lindsay Topham at Topham Photo.

GPS map of the course

Ascending pace graph, especially after mile 24.

Race results here

My paces went as follows:
1st loop (10k): 46:30 (7:47 pace)
2nd loop: 48:11 (8:04 pace)
3rd loop: 51:21 (8:36 pace)
4th loop: 59:04 (9:53 pace)
5th loop: 1:05:16 (10:55 pace)

Half Marathon cumulative time: 1:41:22
Marathon: 3:40:06

As you can see with the pace chart, the race was a positive split (slower at the end) and a particularly slow last 7 miles. I ended up running in third place for most of the race, until mile 23 or 24 when Billy Preston (2nd place) blew by me looking strong. I continued along at a pace I found manageable at that point and wondered when I would get passed by others. I'm not sure what the reason for the lack of energy in the legs was, but I suspect it might be because I haven't had a good consistent long run at a quick pace in a while (or most of the winter for that matter), and trying to push in the beginning of the race came back to bite me at the later miles.

I approached this race a little differently from others, and just tried to go for it from the start. Typically I am a little more conservative, planning on catching others late in the race so this was a change for me. I have been trying to get more comfortable with the 50km distance and in recent races have been experimenting with different strategies to see how they work for me.

The last four miles of the race were very slow for me and there was a little walking involved. I ended up finishing in 4:33:30 for fifth place after getting passed by the #3 and #4 finishers in the last four miles or so. It was a fun day on the trails and the course marking, volunteers, and whole atmosphere was great. I'll try to make it back next year now that I know what to prepare for and give the sub-4 hour 50k another shot.

Gear used:
Shoes: Inov8 Raceultra 290
Socks: Darntough VT Herringbone Micro Crew Ultralight
Shorts: The North Face Better Than Naked 5"
Shirt: Wapack and Back 2012 shirt, with Patagonia All-Weather Long Sleeve
Hat: Salomon XT Compact Cap II
Ultimate Direction handheld and four gels (Boom! and Honey Stingers)

The shoe and sock choices worked out really well for the conditions. I went with a slightly lighter sock from my usual race day sock, because of the warm conditions and tendency for my feet to swell throughout the run. It turned out to be a good choice and I had no blisters or issues with socks bunching up.

After this race, I don't have any key ultras that I am signed up for or planning on running. My focus training runs for the next couple months will be designed to get me ready for another AMC Hut Traverse attempt some time in July. I will plan on running a few times up in the Whites prior to the attempt, maybe trying for a fast Pemi Loop, and some time on the Presidential range. The Hut Traverse is my main focus for the summer, with some races in the fall looming on the radar as well. I am contemplating signing up for the Pisgah 50km race, where I ran my first ultra in 2011. I will be attempting to complete my first 100km run at the TARC 100k in October as well.

This coming May 9th, I will be directing the Wapack and Back trail races. I am not sure what to expect for race day, but almost all preparations are complete (besides buying all the food) and I will have my wife helping me out for the entire day. There has been a great showing of experienced volunteers and I am looking forward to experiencing the race from the other side of the fence. It is going to be a fun day!


  1. It goes without saying, that's still a pretty excellent performance!

    Question: did the Strava data and elevation profiles do a good enough job of giving a sense of the trails? Just something that's often on my mind when I go to race on trails I've never run on before. I know that no amount of blog reading or course description really prepared me for the challenging nature of that TARC 40-miler at Middlesex Fells!

    Sounds like a good plan for the summer. Put in some solid intense training and have fun with mountain adventures, all of which will pay off as strength at the 100K in October.

    Good luck directing the excellent Wapack and Back on the 9th. Will see ya there, camera in hand!

    1. Thanks, Ben! I think they did, and the Fells Skyline is definitely a different animal.

      I'm hoping the training goes well, looking forward to getting some time out in the mountains. See you in a week or so!

  2. Good post and race, Jesse....can't complain about 5th. You know that if you did go out a tad easier and paced it better, you may have been 3rd! But it is always fun to bang heads with the front pack. Something i haven't done since the 80's ;-)
    Looking forward to working at Miller next weekend...did you know that my wife, Deb and I are the originators of the double Wapack run? We used to put on a fun run in the early 2000's called the Wapack Flashback mostly for runners to prepare for MMT and Hardrock. We used to get a motley crew of 10-12 people show up and it was fun.
    See you next weekend...

    1. Thank you, Steve! At first I was a little disappointed, but after thinking about it longer it was a good fitness check to see where I'm at early in the season. Definitely fun to give it all I had at the start and see how it shakes out, not a strategy that I'm used to - but fun nonetheless. That's awesome about the Wapack! I remember reading some of your reports from the earlier races, looked like a good time. See you at Miller soon.