Scofield Ridge summit

IMG_3223 IMG_3250

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Wanting to take advantage of a free day in my schedule (it was Memorial Day, after all!), I decided to take on the summit of Scofield Ridge, which at 1540′ above sea level, is Putnam County’s highest point. It lies on the eastern edge of the Beacon mountains, a small mountain range in the Hudson Highlands that also contains the locally-famous Breakneck Ridge, a hike which draws legions of outdoorsy folks from New York City almost every weekend.

After a check of the map, I decided to avoid the heavily-trafficked Mount Beacon trail IMG_3209head, and instead drove over to nearby Glenham, from where I could approach the mountain “far from the madding crowds”, as it were. I set out from the red-blazed Overlook Trail, which began fairly quietly in terms of its degree of challenge, but within a few hundred meters, became steep and quite rugged.

I passed a sign at a trail junction that pointed to a place called Malouf’s Campground, beyond which the trail became notably more challenging. After crossing a small stream and curling downward around the mountain a bit, I climbed further and came upon first, one pair of scenic viewpoints, and then another about a 1/4-mile later, at the terminus of the Overlook Trail. In an obviously off-season tribute to IMG_3218.JPGChristmas, I found one of the fir trees here adorned with a variety of holiday ornaments and other decorations. It made me smile…..

From here I turned left, now following the white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail. The trail took me down into a hollow at first, and then up and over the top of Lambs Hill. After descending the back side of Lambs Hill, I reached my next scheduled turn, onto a blue-blazed connector trail, whereat I came across my second anomaly of the afternoon, a full-sized bulldozer!  I noted later on my Trail Conference map that this intersection is aptly called “Dozer Junction”. How long ago this piece of machinery was abandoned here I do not know, but it was an interesting highlight of the day.

After completing the blue trail in shIMG_3227.JPGort stead (which was an incredibly washed out woods road), I turned right onto the Wilkinson Memorial Trail, which carries yellow blazes, and at nearly 10 miles in length, is the longest trail in the Hudson Highlands State Park trail system. From here it was yellow markers all the way to the Scofield Ridge high point. Along the way, there were a couple of points that offered a nice vista of Clarence Fahnestock State Park to the southeast.

As I skulked about in the summit area, celebrating and catching my breath, I heard voices, so suspected I would soon be seeing some other hikers. As the minutes passed, no one IMG_3238.JPGshowed up, but the voices persisted. It was only when I looked west across the valley that I saw the Mt. Beacon fire tower, and realized that it was people up in the tower – hundreds of meters away – who I had been (and still was) hearing.  Voices carry!

A check of my watch indicated that I had underestimated this hike, and it had actually taken me almost twice as long to ascend as I had predicted. Accordingly, I wanted to choose the quickest route back to the car, and by my estimate, that was by way of the Casino Trail that goes up and down Mt. Beacon.  After reaching the trail junction, I turned right onto the now red-blazed trail and started to pick up the pace. Once I had passed the turnoff for the fire tower, I began to run, and pretty much ran the whole way down the mountain. Day hikers were everywhere; a few going up, but at 4:30pm, most were on their way back down. At one point, a hiker said “show off!” as I passed her group. I just giggled, as I know non-runners will never understand why we run mountains.

IIMG_3247 stopped on the descent only once, to take a picture of a large collection of cairns near the radio towers. I presume that this formation of rocks has been created over a number of years by local hikers, and I made a brief contribution to the top of one of the structures before moving on.

Ultimately, I reached the main trail head parking lot on Howland Avenue, and from here, had two miles to go to get back to the car.  It was hot, and I was a bit worn out, so I traversed the road from Beacon back to Glenham in alternating walk-run fashion. With the last part of Sunnyside Rd being about a 200′ vertical climb, I was happy to see the car again.

Scofield Ridge is now the 8th New York county high point I have checked off. All in all, a good day on the trails.

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Alander Mountain – Brace Mountain Summits

Friday, May 27th, 2016

The weather forecast was for warm and humid as I made the drive from Monroe to Newburgh to meet Bob Harris, who would drop his car there and ride with me to the Under Mountain Rd trail head in Copake, NY to begin our day’s traverse of two New York county high points.
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At 2,110 feet in elevation, the southwest shoulder of Alander Mountain would be our first county high peak summit. But to get there from the trail head would require some heavy lifting.  We began on the red-blazed Robert Brook Trail, a steep climb through a sensational ravine that would, within about a mile, take us to the Massachusetts border. Due to the steep pitch of this trail, we had to take a couple of breaks before reaching the terminus, the junction of the South Taconic Trail.
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Turning left here, the trail became a very manageable woods road, and as we went downhill (not up), I remarked to Bob that this was elevation loss that we’d have to make up for on the way up to Alander’s summit.  Before long, we reached a junction with an unmaintained, blue-blazed trail that appeared on our map to avoid further elevation loss, so we followed it. Upon our reconnecting with the South Taconic Trail, we spied a cabin perched high up on the mountain. How this cabin was built here is a mystery to me, but apparently it is a popular spot for hikers to spend the night, and it appeared to us that it might even be occupied at the moment.

We continued upward, now on the white-blazed South Taconic Trail, and almost to the summit of Alander Mountain, which is Massachusetts’s most southwesterly mountain peak.
IMG_3182The views from there were terrific, affording us vistas of the Harlem Valley to our west and northwest, and the continuation of the Taconic range to our south. Moving along, we came upon the location of an old fire tower (only its footings remained), and then finally, the southwest shoulder of the mountain, which was right on the New York State border. The location was marked with a stone pillar and a U.S. Geological Survey marker.

After drinking in the views for a few minutes, we began the hike down the mountain. It was rugged at first, with lots of exposed, jagged rock, but it then became more like a mountain trail, and before we knew it, we were back at the junction of the unmaintained blue trail. From here, we would go approximately 3 miles south on the South Taconic Trail on our way to Brace Mountain, our next county high peak destination.
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The trail to Brace was almost exclusively a woods road, and was very manageable despite the moderate elevation gain. Although much of the route was shaded, we could feel the temperature beginning to rise, and knew we were going to be challenged to finish before conditions became unbearable.  As we continued on, Bob made a remark to the affect of “I think I see your mountain there”, and indeed from perhaps 3/4 of a mile away, you could see a pole with a wind flag attached to it at the top of an obvious summit. “Yep, that’s it!” I exclaimed, excited to bag this next peak.

We soon reached a trail junction with a detailed sign, which indicated the Brace Mountain summit was a mere 0.4 miles away. Another sign south taconic trail sign at mt frissell trail terminusshowed mileage in a different direction to both the tri-state border (of MA, NY and CT), and also to Mt Frissell, which is also the high point in the entire state of Connecticut.  We would go to Frissell, but first we needed to get out to Brace.

The Brace Mountain summit is clearly marked with a mound of busted up shale rocks, and also the aforementioned pole and flag.  At 2,323 feet, this mountain stands as the highest point in Dutchess County.  Just as it was with Alander, the views from here were splendid, with more of the Harlem Valley to our west (including lakes and farms), and the IMG_3196remainder of the South Taconic range to our south, which included South Brace Mountain.

After taking a few pics here and a quick vanilla Clif Shot, we headed back north to the previous trail junction. According to the sign, it was only 0.5 miles to the tri-state marker, and just 1 mile to the Connecticut high point on Mt Frissell.  In no time, we reached the stone marker, and it was a unique experience to be able to take 2 or 3 steps in a given direction and say that you were in a different state.

After some playfulness in that regard at the marker, we moved on toward Mt Frissell. And this is where the going got tough. It wasn’t especially noteworthy in the map topo, but the route to our final summit destination of the day was extremely steep, and even required some hand-over-fist effort. But with Bob’s knee arguing with him as we climbed, we finally made it there. Although the view here was IMG_3199limited, it was marked with a Geological Survey disk, and there was also a military strong box that contained a hiker log book.

Bob pulled the book out of the box, and I signed us in. Looking at previous entries, it showed that hikers were visiting this locale about once or twice a day. After relishing our state high peak (only my 2nd ever, with New Jersey being the first), we began the 4.4-mile hike back to the car.  Returning first to the previous trail junction, and then traversing the South Taconic Trail in the northbound direction, we eventually reached the junction of the Robert Brook Trail, where we had begun our day.

Thinking that going down this last trail would be easy turned out to be a huge mental mistake on my part. This 900-foot descent, most of which was in the final mile, was excruciating on the quadriceps, and with each and every step, I found myself looking more and more forward to reaching the car. Bob and his temperamental knee were liking it even less than me, and it was an exercise in both patience and perseverance in making it back down the mountain.

Having begun our trek at 8:45am, we finished at 2:05pm, for 5 hours and 20 minutes in total time.  We could feel the heat now, and were glad to have the hike behind us before conditions got even worse.

To celebrate our accomplishment, we would stop in Beacon at a place called The Hop, a trendy restaurant/bar with great food and craft beer.  It was clearly a place for the hipsters, so we didn’t exactly fit in, but nobody seemed to mind the presence of a couple of middle-aged men reeking of trail residue.  We enjoyed a sandwich and a beer or two while we further recovered from the day’s efforts.

Two New York county high points (Columbia and Dutchess), one state high point (Connecticut), and one other mountain summit (Alander) were in our bag.  Can wait for the next installment in this great adventure!

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Long Path Races – 2015 Final Standings

Here are the final standings for the 2015 Long Path Race Series:

Jordan Grande (cropped) Lauren Skonieczny and Melanie Mueller
Jordan Grande running Catskill Mountain 100K;  Lauren Skonieczny and Melanie Mueller at finish of SRT Run
Female Open    
Place Name Points Events Completed
1 Jordan Grande 62.0 CMRR
2 Lauren
Skonieczny
50.0 SRT 50
3 Melanie Mueller 50.0 SRT 50
4 Rachael Rheaume 48.3 CMRR
5 Melissa
McCutcheon
44.2 CMRR
6 Sara Fitzgerald 41.6 EMRF Marathon,
AOS 20
7 Hatira Ekber 39.5 SRT 32, AOS 10
8 Dana Spano 27.3 EMRF 1/2
Marathon, Hambletonian, AOS 10
9 Flora
Krivak-Tetley
22.9 EMRF Marathon
10 Mendy Taylor 20.0 AOS 20
11 Colleen Yout 16.0 SRT 20
12 Heidi Derven 15.9 AOS 20
13 Jenna Tomiello 14.7 SRT 20
14 Agnes Chang 14.6 SRT 20
15 Laura Merner 13.6 SRT 20
16 Rachel Wrightson 13.0 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
17 Ariel Bleicher 12.8 SRT 20
18 Kristina Penikis 12.8 SRT 20
19 Christine Lahaye 11.9 SRT 20
20 Claire Bancel 11.7 SRT 20
21 Kristina Braun 11.6 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
22 Katherine Terry 10.2 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
23 Danielle
Winstanley
10.1 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
24 Michelle Query 10.0 AOS 10
25 Vanessa Shea 8.5 AOS 10
26 Brooke Artesi 8.3 SRT 20
27 Alison McNulty 8.1 AOS 10
28 Heather Metz 8.0 EMRF 10
29 Yuliya Ilizarov 7.2 AOS 10
30 Marcia Perez 6.6 EMRF 10

 

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Anna Pettersson at Ellenville Mountain Running Festival; Alison Smythe at SRT Run
FEMALE MASTERS    
Place Name Points Events Completed
1 Anna Pettersson 99.8 EMRF 1/2
Marathon, SRT 74, Hambletonian
2 Alison Smythe 30.0 SRT 20, EMRF 10
3 Elaine Allen 27.0 EMRF Marathon
4 Lenka Halamkova 24.9 EMRF Marathon
5 Charlotte
Dequeker
19.9 AOS 20
6 Amy Hanlon 19.4 SRT 20
7 Cynthia Hearing 17.3 EMRF Marathon
8 Sandra Westermann 15.2 SRT 20
9 Heather Post 14.4 EMRF 10, AOS 10
10 Diane Weeks 13.4 SRT 20
11 Suzanne Meier 13.1 SRT 20
12 Moon Lee 12.5 SRT 20
13 Karen Bouloucon 11.6 SRT 20
14 Chantale Ignall 11.1 SRT 20
15 Rosanna
Brillantes
10.2 SRT 20
16 Sky Canaves 10.0 AOS 10
17 Kellie McGuire 9.9 AOS 10
18 Deb Charlebois 8.5 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
19 Suzanne Paulson 8.5 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
20 Diane Westerback 8.4 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
21 Ismene Grohmann 7.7 EMRF 10
22 Jamie Guiliano 6.6 EMRF 10
23 Maria Delgado 5.6 EMRF 10
24 Sally Hur 4.6 EMRF 10
________________________________________________________________________________
Chris Regan Adam Rau - finish
Chris Regan at Assault on Schunemunk; Adam Rau finishing Catskill Mountain 100K
MALE OPEN    
Place Name Points Events Completed
1 Christopher
Regan
75.4 CMRR,
Hambletonian, AOS 20
2 Jason Berry 74.0 SRT 74
3 Adam Rau 62.0 CMRR
4 Brice Wilson 61.1 SRT 74
5 Dante Simone 58.1 CMRR
6 Aaron Stredny 50.0 SRT 50
7 Daniel Lewis 43.7 SRT 50
8 Bryan Selm 35.6 SRT 50
9 Ivan Milan 33.8 EMRF Marathon,
AOS 20
10 Scott Harris 32.6 SRT 50
11 Cyril Le Baillif 27.2 EMRF 1/2
Marathon, SRT 20
12 Iain Ridgway 27.0 EMRF Marathon
13 David Stango 27.0 SRT 32
14 Brian Ibbs 26.4 EMRF 10, AOS 20
15 Eric Luongo 24.3 SRT 32
16 James McCowan 22.8 EMRF Marathon
17 Max Brodsky 21.6 SRT 32
18 PJ Wright 21.1 SRT 32
19 Ben Parker 20.9 EMRF 1/2
Marathon,AOS 10
20 David Dos Santos 20.4 SRT 32
21 Adam Meier 20.0 SRT 20
22 Eric Aditya 19.5 EMRF Marathon
23 Zack Price 19.3 EMRF Marathon
24 Emmanuel
Odebunmi
18.5 EMRF Marathon
25 Tim Fulton 18.4 EMRF Marathon
26 Tarcisio Ramos
Dos Santos
18.3 SRT 32
27 Adam Harlec 18.2 EMRF 10, AOS 10
28 Joe Limone 17.7 EMRF Marathon
29 Dominick Delli
Paoli
17.3 EMRF Marathon
30 Matthew Melcher 16.9 AOS 20
31 Shawn Bubany 15.2 SRT 20
32 Wayne Chan 15.1 EMRF Marathon
33 Severin Boussie 14.0 SRT 20
34 Vincent
Cappadora
13.9 EMRF Marathon
35 Christopher
Gallo
13.8 AOS 20
36 Ben Drew 12.9 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
37 Matthew Spalding 12.2 AOS 20
38 Alan Davidson 12.0 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
39 Matt Lazar 11.9 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
40 Anh-Tuan Tran 11.5 SRT 20
41 Christopher
Manza
11.0 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
42 Peter Kurowski 10.6 AOS 20
43 Benjamin Vince 10.0 EMRF 10
44 Philip Shea 10.0 AOS 10
45 Michael Merner 9.8 SRT 20
46 David Goldberg 9.7 SRT 20
47 Jon Moerk-Jensen 9.3 SRT 20
48 Michael Daigeaun 9.0 SRT 20
49 Kevin Wingert 9.0 SRT 20
50 Ian Smith 8.5 SRT 20
51 Kevin Rader 8.2 EMRF 10
52 John Deraimo 8.1 SRT 20
53 Chad Smith 8.0 EMRF 10
54 Nick Dimaria 7.9 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
55 Philip Posner 7.9 EMRF 10
56 Peter Squire 7.8 EMRF 10
57 Justin Guiliano 7.4 EMRF 10
58 Greg Cecere 7.3 EMRF 10
59 David Mills 6.2 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
60 Tiziano
Iannitelli
6.2 EMRF 1/2
Marathon
61 Tom Traphagen 6.1 EMRF 10
62 Conor Shea 5.6 AOS 10
63 Marius Calin 4.8 AOS 10
_______________________________________________________________________________
Dave Herring on the course  William Uribe
Dave Herring tackling the SRT Run, William Uribe at finish of Catskill Mountain 100K
MALE MASTERS    
Place Name Points Events Completed
1 Bernard Pesjak 71.2 SRT 74
1 Dave Herring 71.2 SRT 74
3 Nick
Schewtschenko
71.1 AOS 20, SRT 74
4 Raymond Russell 70.7 SRT 74, AOS 20
5 Kevin Russell 68.9 SRT 74
6 Marcin Mrowka 67.3 SRT 74
7 Paul Fost 58.3 SRT 74
8 Chris Rice 53.7 CMRR
9 William Uribe 51.7 CMRR
10 David Kalal 49.5 EMRF Marathon,
SRT 50
11 Antal Halasz 48.6 EMRF Marathon,
Hambletonian, AOS 20
12 Jim Bixler 48.5 SRT 32,
Hambletonian, AOS 20
13 Yoon Lee 44.7 SRT 50, AOS 20
14 Grzegorz Klepadlo 43.9 CMRR
15 Robert Sholtis 41.6 CMRR
16 Trishul Cherns 37.8 CMRR
17 Jan Peter Brajer 33.6 EMRF Marathon,
AOS 20
18 Tom Svoboda 32.6 SRT 50
19 Ian Erne 32.5 SRT 50
20 Henry Pratt 32.0 SRT 32
21 Felipe Mallet 30.8 SRT 50
22 Victor Solis 29.3 EMRF 1/2
Marathon, Hambletonian
23 Ludovic Pillard 27.2 EMRF 1/2
Marathon, SRT 20
24 Ben Nephew 27.0 EMRF Marathon
25 Ben Lloyd 23.5 EMRF Marathon
26 Marcus Guiliano 20.4 SRT 20, EMRF 10
27 Thomas Dehaan 20.3 EMRF Marathon
28 Philip Whitten 19.5 EMRF Marathon
29 Matthew Smith 17.8 SRT 32
30 Aaron Anaya 17.5 AOS 20
31 Bob Meyer 17.1 AOS 20
32 Scott Field 15.5 SRT 20
33 Dennis McKenna 14.5 EMRF Marathon
34 Timothy Church 14.3 SRT 20
35 Jim Cielencki 14.0 AOS 20
36 Michael Ferrante 12.7 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
37 Rocco Flores 11.9 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
38 Bob Harris 11.8 SRT 20
39 Robert Kiernan 11.5 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
40 Bill Thompson 11.0 AOS 20
41 Dennis Ebbing 11.0 AOS 20
42 Rab Daiello 11.0 AOS 20
43 Christopher
McGovern
10.5 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
44 Brian Weeks 10.2 SRT 20
45 Neil Hart 9.4 SRT 20
46 Michael Pearsall 8.8 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
47 Andre Liu 8.6 SRT 20
48 Pat Mahady 8.6 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
49 Patrick Sheeley 8.6 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
50 Paul Reynolds 8.1 EMRF 10
51 Mahesha
Chayapathi
7.7 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
52 Todd Van Sickle 7.4 AOS 10
53 Gordon Seigh 6.8 AOS 10
54 Max Polaner 6.7 EMRF 10
55 Todd Slocum 6.7 EMRF 10
56 Paul Muessig 6.7 AOS 10
57 Thomas Mahady 6.4 AOS 10
58 Steven Pezzetta 6.4 SRT 20
59 Ernesto
Santorelli
6.2 EMRF 1/2 Marathon
60 Timothy Schopen 5.5 AOS 10
61 Mike Hawkins 4.8 AOS 10
62 Andrew Macpherson 4.6 EMRF 10
63 Ray Mullins 4.4 AOS 10

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Clockwise from upper left:  Melissa McCutcheon and Trishul Cherns completing the 2015 Catskill Mountain 100K; Matt Spalding, Bill Thompson, Sara Fitzgerald, Raymond Russell and Nick Schewtschenko having a mountaintop party at Assault on Schunemunk; Aaron Stredny showing off his winning wares at the Shawangunk Ridge Trail Run; Diane Westerback “in flight” at the Ellenville Mountain Running Festival

Melissa & Trishul 22536252791_159dfc51f5_o 11813367_752297688225720_1959907259220886824_n IMG_2382

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2015 Catskill Mountain 100K – Race Director’s Report

Team Cornell

Team Cornell

One of the things that always strikes me about the Catskill Mountain 100K is its simplicity. Despite the fact that the course traverses 62.1 miles – a formidable distance even for a relay team – there’s an air of simplicity about it that is unmistakable. Whether you’re lined up at the exchange point waiting for your relay teammate to reach you, running your own leg, or just driving the course in support of your current runner, there is nothing stressful or complicated about any of it. It’s just you, the road, and the beautiful Catskill mountain landscape. It’s this concept of simplicity that has drawn me back again and again to CMRR ever since first running it in 2004 with a group of friends from my train commute. Back then, team Rail Riders was an uncompetitive team (I think we came in in just a few seconds under 9 hours), but we had a blast, and took home many great memories.

All this was in mind as I made last minute preparations for the 2015 Catskill Mountain 100K Road Race & Relay, my second year as race director after having spent 8 years running in the event myself. This year’s race featured 15 relay teams, but also 13 starters in the fairly new solo division, a doubling of the number who toed the line in 2014.

Start (Kaaren Cherns)

4:00am Solo start

The 4:00am start of the solo race began under the light of the street lamp where High Street meets Woodland Valley Rd in the quiet hamlet of Phoenicia, NY. I sensed a determination in the runners, and despite the forecast for temps in the upper 80s, knew that we were going to be in for a good day out there.

Not long after the lead runners began returning from the out-and-back first 10K, relay teams started to appear in preparation for their 5:30am start. But the solo race began to take shape, with William Uribe the 1st to reach the 10K mark in 44 minutes, followed just 2 minutes later by Adam Rau. Both men appeared to be running too fast by my estimation, but the proof would be later on, when they reached the 70K and 80K sections of the course, which would be in open sun during the hottest part of the day. CMRR and 100K newbie Rachael Rheaume was the first female to reach the 10K mark in 59 minutes.

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Smelly Running Scoundrels?

Following the Solo start, Relay division teams were released onto the course at half-hour intervals between 5:30 and 7:30am. A group calling themselves Dirty Running Scoundrels, decked out in shirts depicting a skunk that resembled Pepe Lepew, fielded four teams in this year’s race. Another running team from New York City called the Dashing Whippets Racing Team (DWRT) fielded three teams, upping the ante from the one team they had brought to last year’s race. Also joining the fray were two Albany-based teams, a Long Island team, and even one from distant Ithaca, NY, aptly calling themselves ‘Cornell.’ The Harrier Men were back this year from NYC, trying to avenge their narrow loss to team Raider Pride in the 2014 race. And finally, there were the Road Warriors, comprised of runners well-known in the Orange and Sullivan County race scene, several of whom were long time veterans of CMRR.

Once everyone was off and running, I gave instructions to Andres Espinosa and Jim Bixler, two of our super volunteers, who would be out on the course most of the day making sure that the solo runners without a crew were monitored and being cared for.

Mountain Whippets at Big Indian

Mountain Whippets

Moving out past the 20K mark, my girlfriend Catherine and I spotted several runners along Route 28, making their way between Phoenicia and Big Indian. With the time now approaching 8:00am, I was particularly pleased to see my car thermometer still showing a temperature reading in the low 60s. Cooler temps would obviously make it an easier day on both ultra runners and relay runners alike.

After picking up the fluid support table I had placed at the turn onto Ulster County route 47 in Big Indian, we made our way past the 30K mark and eventually caught up with solo runner Cathy Troisi. Cathy is a great story, an ultra runner 69 years young who was using CMRR as a training run for the Tahoe 200 she is registered for in September. She confessed to me before the race that she would only run 50K and then call it a day. Needless to say, whether she planned to finish or not, I was glad to have such an inspiring runner in the race, and Catherine and I stopped to chat with her and wish her well before moving on. (True to her word, Cathy completed 50K before hailing a ride to the finish from a volunteer)

Catherine Petroski with solo participant Cathy Troisi

Volunteer Catherine Petroski with solo participant Cathy Troisi

As we neared – and then rounded – Fiddler’s Elbow and began the huge ascent up Winnisook Hill, we encountered several other solo runners, all of whom appeared to be doing a good job of properly pacing themselves on this very hill race course. Trishul Cherns and Melissa McCutcheon were running together, and Trishul told me that he was predicting a finish for them of right around 15 hours. Rachael Rheaume, although having lost the lead female position to Jordan Grande, was still smiling, and appeared to be happy with her day so far. Ken Kirsch was plodding up the hill, but based on his experience of last year, knew that running this section was not only an exercise in futility, but also possibly a recipe for disaster.

The next step for Catherine and I would be to get to the 55K mark and set up the water table there before the first unsupported runner reached that point. But as we made our way into Frost Valley and past the expansive YMCA property there, I became concerned that William and Jordan were both still nowhere in sight, and I was worried they had beaten us to the 55K location. Fortunately, we came upon race founder Brian Cavanagh, part of the volunteer support team working with the solo runners. Brian told me that both of them were just a few minutes ahead, and I was relieved to know we’d be able to get to them in time. Just after we set up the table alongside the East Branch of the Neversink River, William came ambling along, apparently suffering from some difficulty with his plantar fascia. I helped him refill his water bottles, and after looking at his watch, he assured me that even if he wasn’t able to run the entire way, he still had plenty of time to finish, and that he would do exactly that. Minutes later, Jordan appeared, and was looking very strong. After attending to her needs, we left the table there for the other unsupported runners and moved on in search of lead runners Chris Rice, Dante Simone and Adam Rau.

We passed Chris initially at about the 57K mark, but then caught up with his dad at the 60K exchange point. After a quick chat, we learned that Chris was doing OK despite our having seen him sitting on the car tailgate with his shoes off a couple miles back. Apparently he was changing his shoes and socks at regular intervals as a way of staving off blisters, which seemed like a great race plan.

It was at the left-turn at Zanetti’s Garage that we caught up with Dante, and he gave us a smile and a few words of gratefulness as we slowly drove by. Heading to and through Grahamsville, and now on our way toward the Rondout Reservoir section of the course, there was still no sign of Adam, and my jaw was practically in my lap as I contemplated the speed with which he appeared to be completing the course. Or had he DNFed? We didn’t know, and we would have to wait a little while longer to find out for sure.

3 Goldens Convenience Store - Sundown

3 Goldens Convenience Store

Catherine and I set up the 75K water table at the bald eagle viewing area alongside the reservoir, working as quickly as we could, and carefully covering the water and Gatorade with a tarp so as to keep them from becoming too hot in the blazing mid-afternoon sun. Moving ahead toward Sundown, we finally reached Adam, who had one of his brothers pacing him at this point. He looked utterly depleted by the heat and sun, but I took comfort in knowing that he had his family all there supporting him and making sure he was as hydrated and as cool as possible. We stopped at 3 Goldens Convenience Store, the 80K mark on the course, and chatted with Adam’s wife Janis. She confirmed his determination to finish the course in record time, and confessed that at some point earlier in the day he had been talking about breaking 9 hours. As it was, he would probably not break 9:00 at this point, but was still in a great position to come in under 10 hours.

Having accounted for all of the solo runners, the next task would be to head to West Shokan and set up the finish line and pavilion at Davis Park for the post-race. As we passed through the Peekamoose Mountain trailhead section (about 85K), we saw dozens and dozens of vehicles parked along the road, in both legal and illegal parking spots. I had learned a few weeks ago that this area – which features a “secret” swimming hole called the Peekamoose Blue Hole – had become overly popular among many NYC-based day tourists, and from what we observed, the area appears to have gotten completely out of control. We came upon one motorist who had stopped his vehicle right in the middle of this narrow, shoulderless road, practically blocking traffic in both directions. After somehow negotiating around him, we quickly came upon a group of 4 or 5 young men carrying towels and 12-packs of beer, and one of them even had a Jack Daniels bottle that he was aggressively pouring into a plastic container. Catherine and I could only shake our heads in disgust.

Finally reaching West Shokan, we scrambled to get the finish line structure set up, and while I ran off to the Boiceville IGA to pick up the 3-foot-long sandwiches, Catherine set up the tables, tablecloths, finisher awards/medals and so on.

Adam Rau - finish

1st Place Solo finisher Adam Rau

Shortly after 1:00pm, Adam’s support crew appeared at the finish, announcing that he was only about 10-15 minutes out. I was especially excited for him, and proud to be on hand to see such a phenomenal course record being set. As he rounded the final turn onto Lang Rd, the clock read 9 hrs, 19 minutes, and he finished in an official time of 9:19:39, almost two hours faster than Ken Posner’s course record time of 11:15:57 in 2014. Totally drained but clearly pleased, Adam spent several minutes flat on his back in the grass, chatting with his family as he got through his initial recovery from a very taxing race.

Dante Simone followed Adam a mere 38 minutes later (and still looking quite fresh, I might add) in an official time of 9:57:12, with Chris Rice coming in 3rd overall in 10:45:35. Chris’s stated goal had been to beat the previous course record, and having done that, gave me a happy smile as he crossed the finish line.

Only minutes later, Jordan Grande became our female solo winner in a stunning time of 10:53:52, beating the women’s course record by over 43 minutes, and also taking nearly 3 hours off of her 2014 time of 13:43:07. Following Jordan was William Uribe, who had recovered appreciably in the latter stages of the race, and finished 5th overall in 11:11:37.

Dashing Whippets Men - 1st place Open division

Dashing Whippets Men

During this time, the fastest of the relay teams began appearing in Davis Park. Finishing 1st overall and first in the Open division (6:49:53) were the Dashing Whippets Men, who, as a team, recorded the fastest individual time on 7 of the 10 relay legs. Ryan Hepworth’s 44:25 time on Leg 4, although nowhere near the fastest ever, was a full two and a half minutes faster than any other team’s leg 4 time. Scott Bartucca’s Harrier Men team finished 2nd overall (6:59:17) for the second year in a row, showing that they will always be a force to be reckoned with. Crossing the line 3rd in the relay division was the 1st Superteam, calling themselves Rising Sun. This enthusiastic group – also from NYC, as many of this year’s teams were – completed the 100K course in an impressive time of 7:16:18.

In a display of team dominance, the Dashing Whippets Women took first place in the Female division, clocking in at 7:45:42, followed in 2nd place by their lady teammates the Mountain Whippets in 9:08:58. Winning the Masters Division were race veterans the Road Warriors in a time of 10:02:59. And finally, in the Mixed division, Albany area team the MA-RA’s (Middle Aged Recreational Athletes) won in a time of 10:14:20.

2015 Medals

2015 CMRR team medals

After the relay teams were all in, and everyone had partaken in sandwiches, soft drinks and (for some) a beer or two, we gave out the team awards, after which time many of the teams headed out on their long trip home. But the race was still going on for many of the solo runners, and we gave renewed attention to the finish line as the sun began to make its way toward the horizon on this terrific August Sunday.

Finishing 6th overall in 13:11:12 was Grzegorz Klapadlo of Maspeth, NY. His resume coming into the race was thinner than many of the other solo competitors, but he clearly showed that he has what it takes to tackle CMRR, and was a proud 1st timer. Chris “Pizza Man” Regan of Wappingers Falls, NY was 7th in 13:35:49, and upon finishing, swore off ever doing a 100-miler. “100K was enough for me.” he stated.

Robert Sholtis, a late entry from the D.C. area of Virginia, finished 8th in 13:53:59, followed in 9th (and 2nd place female) by Rachael Rheaume. Rachael’s mom and dad had been hovering around the finish area for at least an hour and a half, wondering about her status in the race, and hemming and hawing about whether to drive out onto the course to find her. Well, they finally did, and then quickly returned to tell me that she was nearing the finish and looking good! Rachael finished in 13:58:48.

Melissa & Trishul

Melissa McCutcheon and Trishul Cherns

Rounding out the field of solo finishers were Melissa McCutcheon and Trishul Cherns. Melissa had raced CMRR last year, but DNFed somewhere around the 70K mark. Buoyed by a desire to finish it this year, and crewed for again by her husband Tom, she finished with Trishul in a time of 15:18:02. Trishul’s was – are you ready? – his 238th ultra finish. Wow!

The only regret I had of the day was that I didn’t have the opportunity to run with all these great teams and individuals. But as the race director, I take great pride in the caliber of runners that CMRR draws – team relay runners with a great sense of fellowship and adventure, and solo ultra runners with a grit and determination that says “Hardest road 100K in the country?? Bring it!”

Thanks to all the teams, solo runners, and especially to volunteers Catherine Petroski, Brian Cavanagh, Jim Bixler and Andres Espinosa, whose boundless help was pivotal in our 2015 success. I look forward to seeing all of you back in the Catskills with us next year for another great adventure. For those who may be wondering, the tentative date is August 14th, 2016.

Have a great end to your Summer, a terrific Fall, and keep doing great things!

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Is Trust A Villain ?

Overcome-Self-Doubt-300x268Based upon my own experiences in this revolving trip around the sun we’re all taking together, I can say without question that there are many moments of self-doubt in life. For some, these moments may be less frequently occurring than for others, but we all have them. This, I know.

I’ve recently had my own, latest battle with self-doubt, and it centers around my faith and trust in other people. As most who know me would attest to, I’m a very trusting person. My first instinct is to look upon another human being as honest, and of good will. Almost always, this MO toward life has worked for me. It’s given me many solid relationships with friends and people I do business with, and has significantly reduced the amount of stress that I bear in everyday living. But as we all know, there are exceptions to everything….

In the early part of 2012, I met a man who initially struck me as quite amazing. As I learned in talking to this person (who I will call ‘Jerome’), he not only had his own business, but several businesses. And while still only in his early 40’s, he already seemed pretty set, financially. Not only did Jerome have a solid financial base, but he was a runner, and had continuing aspirations to do more with himself in that respect. To me, Jerome had the good life, something I admit to being a bit envious about.

Over the next 12 months, I had periodic contact with Jerome via email, TXT, or on occasion, by phone. Each contact was filled with positivity, and left in me a sense of hope that I, too, could be like him. I kept saying to myself “I know it’s going to be hard, but I can DO this!” My brain would be flooded with ideas about how I could build the business of my dreams, become independent, and as the saying goes when you do what you love, “never work another day in my life.”

As fate would have it, a wonderful opportunity presented itself to me at about the same time that I met Jerome, and although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, it would set my direction for the future. I continued to work on this opportunity with the passion I knew it deserved, and by the Fall of 2012, it was beginning to take real shape.

While I continued to put the pieces in place to this new venture, Jerome reached out to me in early 2013. He had heard about the event I was working on, and wanted to support me. He also spoke with enthusiasm about the event’s purpose, which touched a chord in me. “Let me help you.” he said with a smile in his voice, and I told him that I’d be delighted to have him in my corner.

And so the conversation ensued with Jerome. After some discussion, it was decided that he would “sponsor” my event by providing one of my required services at his cost (no markup). Being that I was looking to economize wherever I could, I took him up on his offer. I was happy, and felt as though I had good things happening to me.

But almost as quickly as the good feelings took root in me, they were replaced by angst and worry. I quickly discovered that it had been a mistake to get involved with Jerome, and before I knew it, I was facing embarrassment in the eyes of others, and financial loss. Jerome did not deliver on any of his promises to support me. In fact, he took resources from me under the guise of providing a service that he ultimately never provided.

As alibi for Jerome’s failure to provide services, he put forth to me an elaborate series of lies, some of them so bizarre that I could only suppose that he suffered from some kind of sociopathic mental disorder, and others so unsophisticated that I couldn’t imagine a rational person even thinking that someone else would believe them.

I guess the moral of the story is that there are humans out there – our brothers and sisters riding with us on this big blue marble – who cannot be trusted, who do not have good will toward others, and who do not understand or otherwise value honesty and integrity. How is it that I fail to see through the veils that these kinds of people wear? Will my own good nature always make me vulnerable to ill will? Should I become suspicious of everyone, even those I think of as friends?

Today, I have nothing but self-doubt and unanswered questions. I hope tomorrow will be a better day. I believe it will…….

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One Man’s Truth

I’ve never been one to be shy about expressing my opinion, and sometimes I’m known to do so in pretty strong fashion (yes, DP, wherever you are – I admit it!).  But the fact remains, it’s merely my opinion, and I understand that whether I am in the majority or the minority in that regard matters very little, as it will do nothing much to change my day-to-day life.

More often than not, I find that when I express my opinion strongly about something in the face of an opposing view, there is nothing positive that ever comes of it.  All I get out of it is a lot of anxiety, and certainly a lot of emotional energy is spent in the process.

Ah, to be right.  It’s what we all want, isn’t it?  We want to know that the way we see the world is the truth, the undisputed truth, and nothing but the truth.  This makes us feel good, and gives us the validating feeling that the way we’re going about life is the best way.  Our ego is satisfied.

But the fact of the matter is, when you get right down to it, there is no undisputed or absolute truth.  Take any given fact, put it out there into the open world, and I would bet you my last dollar that there is at least a small percentage of the population who disagrees with it.  This is the way the world goes around.  This is the truth.

And so, what does it all mean?  Well, I guess it can mean a lot.  Or, nothing at all.

I recently had a public debate/dispute with a ‘Friend’ on Facebook about the self-identification that many Penn State University alum have made with their school, and about how these same people, as a means of distancing themselves from the scandal that took place there, have disassociated from the people who were responsible for covering up Jerry Sandusky’s atrocities.  In other words, I was told, “those people, those top officers at Penn State, were/are NOT the university.”    In this debate, I had taken the stance that Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno were indeed Penn State University, that they as (the academic equivalent of) corporate officers represent the values and ideals of the “business.”  To say that they were not Penn State would be – I argued – like saying Bill Gates and his corporate team are not Microsoft.

The person I was debating with –a PSU graduate – did not take kindly to this opinion.  I was vehemently told that I was “drawing incorrect conclusions” from our discussion, and therefore my argument was invalid.

However, happy to continue the discussion, I pressed on with further points and conclusions, only to then be told that I was starting to “piss off” my debate partner.  The way I see it, the inherent nature of intellectual discussion carries with it this risk.  But….when the name calling begins, it’s probably best to put an end to the conversation, and so that was the way the situation ultimately concluded.

What I realized in all this was that the other person had their way of seeing the facts, and I had mine.  And since that wasn’t going to change, I essentially had two options – either to tell them that I agreed with them (even though I didn’t), or to simply end the conversation by saying that we obviously do not (and will not) see eye to eye.     I chose the latter.

I then followed up that step with another one – I unfriended the person, for which I was very quickly criticized.  Yes, I was characterized as being ‘unclassy’ for running from the debate.  There was more to my unfriending this person than just this debate, but it was definitely the clincher.

What is it with people where they have to be right, and if you deny them that opportunity, they get all bent out of shape and start blasting you?   I don’t know, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter.   The point in all this was that the debate between this person and I was starting to cause me knots in my stomach as it got more intense, and I decided to put a stop to it, for my sake.

He had his truth, and I had mine.  And that’s fine.  It sure wasn’t worth fighting over.

As I apply this concept to the world around us and see all the differences that we (‘we’ meaning Americans and our culture) have with other countries, cultures and religions, I have to wonder, is any of it really worth fighting over?  Do we have to be right, and declare others ‘wrong’ in their view of things?   Isn’t it causing us a lot of anxiety, loss of life, and wasting energy that we could otherwise be using for positive purposes?

Others have their truths, and we have ours.  To which we are both entitled, and should therefore not kill each other over so as to prove that we are right, or superior.

When will the insanity end?

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Building Community

“What show?      Image

At the pump behind me at the gas station is a 30-something guy of obvious Latino descent.

“Huh?” I say.  And then, after a moment of realization, “Oh….uh, I don’t know.  And you’d think I would, right?”  What he’s hearing is my MP3 player blaring “They Love Each Other” as I pump my gas.  I thought about it for a quick second, and decided that no, I still don’t know what Grateful Dead show this song comes from.

For you non-Deadheads, I should explain that every live show the Grateful Dead ever performed has been recorded, and in most cases, by many people.  This is not bootlegging, mind you.  The Dead actually encouraged their fans to record the shows, which in turn, built them a tremendous following, and amongst their fans, an unparalleled sense of community.

“What, is it on the radio?” the guy says to me.  “No, it’s my MP3 player, and I’m ashamed that I don’t know what show it is.”   However, a quick check of my Rio’s display panel reminds me that the recording is from Barton Hall, Cornell University, 5-8-77.  Many Dead devotees consider the Barton Hall show to be the best the band ever played.  And that’s saying a lot, because over the course of 30 years the Grateful Dead performed live 2,318 times.

“Hey, I got it!” I tell him.  “It’s Barton Hall, 5-8-77.  The show of all shows, ya know?”
He gives me a smile and a nod.

ImageThe weird part of all this is that this guy, based on his age and ethnicity (and driving an import tuner, I might add) is perhaps the last person you’d imagine to be a Deadhead.  He totally defies the stereotype.  And yet as soon as he got out of his car to pump his gas and heard the grooves coming out of my vehicle, he asked me “What show?”

This is the community that Jerry, Bobby, Phil, and the gang built through their very special creative talents.  And as I think of it now, I feel that community is actually a primary goal of the creative process.  Or if not a goal, it’s certainly the outcome of most successful creative endeavors.

I want to build things.  I want to create in such a way that community forms around the center of what I do.   This is how I will measure the success of all of my own creative pursuits from now on.

“They Love Each Other.”  Do you think Jesus would have been digging on this song if he’d heard it in his day?  I’d like to think so…

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