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At the Races

Rob Gerin’s Second North Face DC 50K, This One With Mud

Recap of North Face Endurance Challenge (50K), Washington, DC, June 2, 2012

Rob Gerin (2nd AG) … 6:13:42

On Friday, the day before the race, Lisa and I drove down to Sterling, Virginia. The drive was nice until we hit some powerful thunderstorms. Weather reports spoke of tornados touching down in the area. But we made to the race’s host hotel, and then went to dinner with our friends Valerie and Jay, who live in nearby Fairfax.

One good thing about staying at the host hotel is the shuttle bus to the race. I lined up with hundreds of other runners for the 15-minute ride.

Race day was partly cloudy but rain-free. That was the sky, but the ground was mud. I have never seen so much mud. There was mud for the 50K runners, and there was mud for the 50 milers. Everywhere you stepped, there was mud. Not just puddles of mud, but also thick mud that grabbed your shoe each time you lifted a leg.

We crossed several streams that under normal conditions are ankle-deep but that were now up to my knees. At about 22 miles, the banks of a stream were so slippery from (guess what?) mud that a couple of runners helped me climb out of the water.

The course was not all mud, though. In the Gorge section, we ran along a cliff with boulders underfoot, and the muddy Potomac River far below. The Potomac flows through the Gorge.

I was dirty but felt pretty good over the first 25 miles. After 25 miles of mud, however, I fatigued and began losing my balance in the muddy areas. So, in the worst sections, I just gave up trying to run, and walked instead.

At the final aid station, I texted Lisa to let her know I was almost done. Lisa and Valerie met me at the finish line. I was done in 6:13:42, about half an hour off the time I wanted. However, I placed 2nd out of 13 in my age group, and 116th out of 408 finishers.

North Face provides a great after-race meal with a choice of beers. After a couple of cool ones, I was ready to head back to the hotel.

Note: Rob ran this race once before, in September 2009. It was his first 50K. The event has since been moved to June.

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