Sunday, July 8, 2007

Rattlesnake 50k Race Report

I arrived to the entrance of Kannawha State Forest in Charelston West Virginia around midnight on Friday. The park gates were closed so I pulled of to the side of the road and slept until 5AM. I picked up my race packet and started getting ready for the 6:30 start. I met up with Rob, we took the pre race photo, and discussed the race. I met up with Adam before the race. He is also from Cincinnati. I have run with him once before in MAF. This was his first 50k.

Pre race photo

My goal for this race was to finish in the top 20 our blow up trying. From looking at last year’s results I saw that I 5:54 would have been good enough to place in the top 20 so that is what I was shooting for. When the gun went off I tried to get near the front of the pack to avoid that clutter that would be caused by 100+ people being crammed into a long steep single track climb. This race has 10 climbs that are spaced realativley even throughout the course. They usually come after every aid station. Rob and Adam both went out ahead of me as we entered the climb. I passed Rob on the down hill, of course it would be short lived as we would run the first 11 miles of the race very close to each other.

As I was running down the second climb, around mile 5, I twisted my right ankle. The guy coming up behind me asked me if I had heard it pop. I told him I hadn’t, and he said it should be OK. It only hurt for a couple minutes, after that I was fine. Rob passed me going into the third or fourth climb at mile 11. I wouldn’t see him again until the finish line, after he had time to eat and shower. Before he passed I voiced my concerns about how I though I had gone out too fast and would blow up soon. He told me that I had put in the training and I would be fine. Of course, he wasn’t going to say “Yeah, you idiot, you went out to fast, now your screwed!” I appreciated it nonetheless. By the 6th “hill”(I would call them mountains) My climbing legs were gone. I could still pound the down hills and flats but the rest of my climbs would be pretty slow. Comming into the aid station at mile 20 I passed Adam who was having bit of a rough patch. He rebounded to finish just over 6 hours. A great showing for his first ultra. Despite my worries of going out to fast, I was able to maintain a good pace throughout the run. I never blew up and felt really good the whole way through.

As I descended the final climb around mile 29 I twisted my right ankle again, this time I heard it pop. It hurt like hell for a minute or to then subsided. Luckily it was at the end of the race and didn’t have an effect on my finishing time. I crossed the line in 5:51, which was below my goal of 5:54. It is also a new trail 50k PR. Beating my old PR of 5:56, set on a MUCH flatter course last December. The race field was much bigger this year, so my 5:51 wasn’t good enough for a top 20 as it would have been last year. I ended up finishing 35th out of 135 registered runners. I am happy with that. I felt better after this race then I ever have after any race, which is weird because I really pushed it hard. It is amazing how short 6 hours of running feels after the 28+ hours of running required to finish my last race. When I came to the final aid station and they told me I had 3 miles to go, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was just getting started.

Post race photo (Stern)

Post race photo (happy)

This race is definitely up there in terms of difficulty. It may be the most difficult 50k I have run. The climbs were just ridiculous at times. You would climb straight up for about 10 minutes, then come to a turn and think you were finished only the make the turn and see that you were only about half way up. Even the smallest of the 10 were bigger than any hill at Mo, and apparently they don’t know much about switch backs in West Virginia, they just take you straight up.

My ankle swelled up on the ride home and feels pretty bad now. I figure it will be a few days before I can run on it again. I will be OK for BT50k next weekend.


Kim said...

Excellent race Josh!
They're not called mountaineers for nothing in WV, those runners are part trail goat. And yes, their WV hills=Ohio mountains.

The BT will be flat now in comparision. I'll be up for BT BTW volunteering somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Add you state to the list! Nice job man!

Sensationally Red said...

It's all relative isn't it? Running 100 mile races would make 50Ks seem like a jog in the park--albeit up mountains in this case. I was going to think you're the reincarnated 6 million dollar man if that ankle wasn't going to swell after hearing it pop two times. Use ice on it initially, but then get moving with some easy running. You'll be great for the Buckeye 50! It'll be good to see you. At least at the the time I finish you'll be back in Cincinnati

Rob "Buckeye" Powell said...


You ran a great race on tough geography. YOU SET A PR ON THIS COURSE? That should tell you that you are getting stronger and faster and your training IS working. You are doing great!

This course set our needs of having hill training both up and down.

Josh said...


I am glad you will be helping out at BT! I talked with Gabe for a while after the race and also meet Wendy, nice people!


yep, that is state number 8!


yep, all relative for sure. My ankles are freaky strong. I turn them all the time but they seldom swell up. The swelling has gone down today, it's still pretty sore.


o yeah, I think we got in some good hill training!

Maria said...

Great race report Josh! I'm really looking forward to meeting you next weekend. Red's right'll be done waaaaaaayyyyyy before us ☺

tony said...

Great race Josh! Way to PR on a very tough course! Take care of those bionic ankles!