Thursday, October 22, 2015

TARC 100km Trail Race Report - 10/10/2015

The start of the 100 miler at 5am. The 100k started at 6am.

After putting in several mountain training runs in the 50km/8-10 hour range this summer in the White Mountains of NH, I felt fairly ready to tackle the 100km race that has been on my mind since March. I figured what I had developed in leg strength and endurance from those fun runs would translate well to putting in a faster effort on the flatter trails in Hale Reservation, where the race took place.

Instead of driving my own car, I opted for my wife, Amanda, to drive me to Westwood Friday night as there was camping allowed at the reservation. After getting my tent set up, I made my way over to where the pre-race food was and grabbed a bite to eat with Amanda and a few friends I knew from the trails. She ended up leaving to relieve my mom of babysitting duties and I hung out for a while until I got tired and headed to bed. Waking up at a race venue was new to me and it was great to just roll out of bed and not have to plan for an hour or two drive.

After watching the 100 milers take off on their journey through the woods, I made the final preparations to race and headed back over to the start for the pre-race briefing. At 6am, with a Yeti howl (TARC race tradition), the 100km runners headed out into the woods in the dark. The 100 mile course consisted of four 25 mile loops all the way around Hale Reservation and Noanet Highlands on mostly singletrack and doubletrack trails with a short 1/4 mile section of pavement. The 100km course runs a 12.5 mile section on the last part of the loop and then does two 25 mile loops to finish back on the beach. This allowed us 100k runners to run alone and I think it took until about 37 miles in that I saw any of the 100 milers.

Jack Bailey and I decided beforehand that we would try to run together for a bit and headed out in front at a steady pace. It was great to have someone to trade the lead off with and chat about life in general while out there enjoying the weather and beautiful, sometimes rocky trails. We ended up running about 20 miles together (average pace 9:24/mile!) until I decided the pace wasn't going to be one I could sustain for the whole distance. I let him go hoping that I would be able to catch up later, and started to get into a funk that took me about 10 miles to shake. From miles 20-30 I felt like I didn't want to be running any longer but tried to push on through it knowing that during any long race there are ups and downs and surely this one would pass.

Jack heading out into the fields on the approach to Powisset Farm Aid
Nice long views of the early sunlight

I ended up catching up on my fluids as I had started to get a bit dehydrated and got a second wind as the end of the first loop was getting closer. I was looking forward to picking up my pacer Eric Ahern for the final loop and getting a few miles in with him, hoping it would help my enthusiasm and drive to complete the race with a good effort towards the end. Meeting up with Eric and spending minimal time in the aid station, we were off on our last loop of the course, getting closer and closer to the finish with each step. I kept getting updates at aid stations telling me how far Jack was ahead of me in the race, which helped to keep up my spirits knowing that I was still close to his pace.

As the last loop rolled along I would get updates from volunteers saying 8 minutes ahead...6 minutes ahead...4 minutes ahead, and I kept my mind on my pace and nutrition trying to stay in the race and hope that those times kept coming down in my favor. Eric really did a good job pacing and helping the hills move quickly as they were starting to wear on me at this point. Around mile 51(?) at Noanet Aid Station I got word that I was down to 2 minutes in back of Jack and I made an attempt at this point to pass through the remaining the aid stations without stopping, hoping to make up time.

As you approach the Powisset Farm Aid Station, runners get a long view of who is ahead and we could see Jack arriving at the aid station. I grabbed a water/coke mixture and moved through without stopping catching up to him just after leaving and checked on how his day was going. He said he was "ready to be done" and said he had a rough patch just like I did. I kept a constant pace moving past him and pushed the pace back up into the 9:30 min/mile realm for a couple miles and that seemed to do the trick holding him off. Eric and I relaxed a little, but not too much as we had about 4.5 miles to go to the finish. Eric was texting my wife and letting her know where I was at and a projected time I would finish so my son could be ready to run into the finish with me, something he loves to do at these long races. My son usually runs a bit faster than me after I have a lot of miles on my legs and he enjoys treating it as a mini race between the two of us.

It was a great feeling coming around the bend and seeing my family there to cheer me on, and it was an equally great feeling to have completed my first 100km race - the second longest distance I had ever run (Ghost Train 100 miler 2012 still is my longest). After a couple family photos and talking with Josh K. about the race course, I threw on some heavier clothes and sat over by the fire for a couple minutes until Jack came into the finish and I could congratulate him for a great race. He ran 11:44:39 and another runner, John Kemp, whom we didn't know was behind us came in for third place in 11:50:41.

Finishing up with my main man Matthew
Photo by Eric Ahern during the last few miles

Photo credit Josh Katzman or Jim Roche, they took a similar photo

Lots of fun and suffering were had that day on the rocky trails of Hale and Noanet. Congratulations to all the runners in both races, the course was not easy and all the little rocks and seemingly innocent climbs that were easy in the beginning of the race became exponentially harder as the fatigue set in. Once again, as with any other TARC event, the volunteers, course marking and trail vibe was great. Thank you to all the people that helped getting the event organized because it was a smooth, well-run race to be a part of.

Map of the course, in general it went in a counterclockwise direction

Elevation profile of the many small hills (with Blue pace line)
Strava link:
Results here:

Race Statistics:
Half Marathon: 2:06
Marathon distance: 4:15
50k: 5:15
50mile: 9:06
62.5 (100k): 11:37:10, with around 7,000' of climbing, overall pace of 11:09/mile

Gear Used:
Shorts: The North Face Better Than Naked Flight Series
Short-sleeve Shirt: The North Face Velocitee Crew
Long-sleeve Shirt: Patagonia All-weather
Gels: Honey Stingers, and one special Spanish gel donated by Eric
Food: not much, just a few bananas and some potatoes along the way
Tailwind and coke towards the end for fueling

I'll be crewing and pacing my friend Jay at Ghost Train Ultra as he works to complete his first 100 mile race. I can't wait to get back on the trails out there, it is where I ran my first, and only so far, 100 mile race in 2012. It will be a fun event and I hope to help in any way I can to get him across the finish line. Always a great party in the woods as people work to complete their goals they have worked all year for.

Next event coming up for me is the TARC Fells Trail Ultra Winter 40 miler. This time I aim to complete the whole race in decent time after dropping out the past two years. I took a week for recovery and suprised myself with a Personal Record for the 5k distance the Saturday following the 100k in 17:50 and a fourth place. My training through November will be specific to the Fells race.


  1. Excellent write-up on a great race you had. Sounds like a fun course and well put together with solid volunteers. Kudos to your friend Eric for being a great pacer.

    Awesome job Jesse, and good luck at the TARC Fells Winter 40 miler. Keep up the outstanding running!


    1. Thanks Chris! It was a fun course, nice singletrack rocky sections mixed in with some good cruising miles. Eric did well, it really helped me to have someone to pass the miles with.

      Hoping to complete it this year.

  2. Wow, this is amazing! I can't believe anyone could do this. You are a champion. And, I can't wait to hear a Yeti Howl.

  3. How do you Like the Race Ultra 290s I have a pair that were sent to me for demo and I love/hate them. Great job! Gotta get you and Eric to the West coast to do some bigger boy races!

    1. They've been fine for me, although I did return a pair for a replacement when they starting getting blown out on the sides after about 150 miles. The newer pair is great so far.

      For sure, I'd love to get out there and check out some new scenery.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jay. Looking forward to your great race this weekend.

  5. Congrats, Jesse! Nice way to show how perseverance pays off! I also like the 290's...

    1. Thanks, Steve! Yeah, they've worked for me, a little less grippy on wet rocks than the RocLite 295, but not by much. A little more cushioning than those as well.