Last year I watched as Big Brother Jack trained for and completed this race. I was intrigued. It looked awesome so after conspiring with Big Brother I committed to doing this and waited patiently till the sign up was available on 1 January 2011. I dutifully signed up and that was it....
This race ended up on my calendar and was a fitting end to a plan full of adventure racing in 2011. After 1 Jan I didn't think too much about this as I prepared for the Adventure racing season.
Fast forward to 3rd week in August. The adventure racing season last race had wound down. What's next? The Mega?????????? Oh shit a marathon!!!!!! I adjusted my training plan a bit and picked my run volume up. Over the 7 weeks before the race I did several things that helped:
1. I picked up my run volume to 4-5 times a week
2. I quit drinking beer during the week and started eating pretty healthy
With these two things I actually dropped 10+ pounds and was ready to go into the race lean and mean!!
Friday, 30 September - I loaded the truck with all the necessary stuff for racing and camping. The weather forecast a week ago had looked great but now it was actually scary. Highs in the 40s with rain showers and winds blowing 20mph. Yikes.... this could be miserable. I hit the road early afternoon and pulled into the Castanea firegrounds and saw BBJ standing over by his converted camper van! The party was on.
I hastily set up my tent and got some gear ready while drinking a perfectly good Weihanstephaner Weiss beer. From there we went to the local church for the spaghetti and meat balls dinner. Awesome.... Then back to the campground where we hung around the fire a bit. I retired to my tent around 10pm or so. It was super cozy but I couldn't fall asleep and when I did slept fitfully.
Saturday, 1 Oct - I awoke at 0330 and basically was up. At 0430 I went and got a long hot shower to wake up. I applied KT tape to my IT band and then wandered over to the bfast area. Wow! I normally don't eat much for bfast and especially before a race but this was great. I had some eggs and oatmeal and then thought oh my gosh, I've eaten too much. It had not started raining yet but it was cold. I mentally prepared for this and new gear would be an issue because of the chance of hyperthermia out there. I decided on the following:
Wick adventure racing baseball cap
Bandana around neck
Long sleeve medium weight wick shirt
Light barrier vest
Short running tights
Smart wool socks
Vasque Velocity trail shoes
I carried a small 7litre pack or so with:
- 1.5 litres of water
- spare socks
- ultra light rain jacket
- some assorted perpetuem and gel
- my iphone for tunes...
Some background on the race:
Actually the Mega is not billed as an actual marathon. The distance varies each year and this year it was around 25.5 miles or so. Close e-fucking nuff!!!!
The course itself is insance and varies from what everyone would designate as a nice trail to absolute lines drawn thru the woods with nothing to follow but orange tap marking the designated way. Add in boulder fields, running thru and up streams, hand over foot climbing and over 5,700 feet of elevation gain and you have the Megatransect....
The Link for the big map is here: Megatransect Big Map
0700 - the race started. and so did the rain.... it basically rained the entire day steadily. A miserable thing.
To back up a bit my goal for this race was going to be 8 hours or so. This would be 3mph or about 20 minute miles. I felt this was conservative knowing the course.
The first 3 miles or so were on the road. AFter 3 miles I was at 25 minutes or so and felt good but this was too fast. That's okay because soon the trail dictated the pace!!! We climbed up the Link Trail as the rain increased steadily. At the top we descended sharply back down before climbing back up to the Boulder Fields at about mile 6.5. This is a mega legacy and is featured each year. I really enjoyed this part but it is daunting
From mile 9 or so down to 11 the "trail" followed an old stream bed that virtually full of water at this point. No way you're keeping your shoes/socks dry here. Busted thru and made it down Kammerdiner East and Change Up Trail till we climbed like hell again up the Black Diamon (aptly named) trail past the reservoir. This brought me into the 2nd Aid station and I was averaging around 17:45 miles. My goal was 20 so this was great. I was feeling good too.
After a quick bite I took off and soon that pace/mile got hammered with a climb up the "Goat Path" Trail which took us up to mile 13 and halfway. Lighting Bolt trail followed and then Gut Check and then the hardest part of the race for me: The Gorge Trail and Giant Steps. This thing basically followed right up a stream bed straight up thru the rocks for a mile or so. It sucked and now the legs began asking for a rest. No way....
At mile 16 I filled my camel back with water and moved on. 10 miles to go or so. I felt great.
I cranked across the two miles up to the Rote Overlook and then began a much gentler yet still tricky descent down the Luge Trail passing thru 20 miles to the last Aid Station at mile 20.5. I hardly stopped here. 10k/6 miles to go and I knew this was in the bag.
That was until I hit the Raw Trail which was a shorter but much more technical version of the Boulder Field. Damn, at mile 22 this was sadistic. We climbed up and over and then hit the Link trail to come back down the mountain and out of the woods. At mile 23 I hit the road again and started the long 3 miles back to the finish. There's a section called the Green mile where it is nothing but a field with overgrown grass and soggy wet that sucked at your shoes on every step. It sucked and was LONG AS HELL! I finally got back to the campground and crossed the finish line in 7 hours and 45 minutes on the nose. An awesome race. I virtually crossed the line and jumped in my car to start heading down to WV.
I called BBJ and he was having a rough go over the Rote Overlook but he got down and made the cut off and finished the race too!!! An awesome day. I'll be back!
Below are some general pics of the course