The 2016 Medved Madness 15 mile trail race was the second race of the 2016 #TrailsROC Trail Runner of the Year Series. This was our first year running this particular race and it stayed true to its name, as the course was nothing short of madness!
Constant rain leading up to the race ensured the course at Mendon Pond Parks was nice and muddy! The temperature leading up to the race start was around 50 degrees, which coupled with the rain was a little chilly. Luckily the warming hut where race registration and packet pick up was had a lovely fire going to keep everyone nice and toasty before setting out for a few hours of muddy recreation. The rain broke just long enough to get the race off but then started back up shortly thereafter. It was a light rain, so it wasn’t too noticeable during the run. What was noticeable were the mud pits that formed along the trails. At a certain point, you stopped caring about finding the path of least resistance and just started trudging straight through the middle or along the tangents of the curves. The mud was coming with you one way or another and there was no getting around it. It was nice of the course designers to force you to run INTO a lake around mile 5 and run around a floating bucket to wash off the mud. The only reasonable explanation for why someone might have us do this is simple: MADNESS!
The race had two options, 15 miles solo or a 3 person 15 mile relay. The course was three distinct loops that started at the same spot and allowed those who needed it to stop at the awesome aid station they had set up. I didn’t end up visiting the aid station until I was finished with the race as I had plenty of fluid in my Orange Mud HyrdraQuiver Vest Pack 2. Each loop was clearly marked with a unique colored surveyor’s flag to ensure nobody got lost along the way. More on that later.
I had raced the 716 mile the day before so my legs were certainly not fresh for this race. I was feeling decent enough to keep a good pace going for the first lap as I fed off of the other runners around me, but I quickly realized a flaw in this plan: I couldn’t tell who was running the relay and who was running the solo race! I ended up pacing with a relay runner on lap one and quickly regretted this decision as she sprinted into the finish at 5 miles and I had 10 more to go. Lap 2 presented more challenges with some decent hills and the increasing fatigue in my legs. Lap three quickly evolved into a lesson in survival for me. I was really feeling the strain in my quads and hamstrings. I ended up power walking most of the hills throughout the entire course in an effort to save my legs and avoid crawling across the finish line. This led to an almost comical yo-yo effect of runners passing me on the uphills and me catching back up to them on the downhills. At the start of lap three, a man I had been running with for several miles even told me to take the lead on an early downhill since he, “sensed a pattern” over the past few miles. Lap three was mostly flat relative to the previous two laps, with the exception of one large hill at the end about a mile from the finish. Let me tell you, it’s really demoralizing when you are walking up a hill and your watch auto-pauses because it doesn’t believe you are still moving. A fellow yo-yo-er and I crested the hill and started going down the path when we started second guessing if we missed a turn. We hadn’t seen any of our loop’s markings but were seeing plenty of markings for lap 2. It turns out we were on a section where lap 2 and 3 overlapped each other. We second guessed ourselves enough to turn around in an attempt to find some lap three markings. We ended up finding one quickly and turned back around and headed towards the finish. We only cost ourselves around 30 seconds to a minute total, but I still felt silly for not trusting my gut and just going a few more yards where the appropriate markings started popping up.
The finish came up shortly after and I was able to some-what kick it in to the finish with a few cramps in my quads and hamstrings trying to hold me back. I crossed the line in 20th place overall/4th place in my age group at a time of 2:08:57. I partook in the provisions at the aid station and waited for Abigail to finish.
I must say, she killed it! She came through in at a time of 2:22:01, good enough for 7th in her age group and 55th overall. She looked so strong coming across that finish line that I couldn’t help but be a little proud. Coincidentally enough, she ended up packing up with someone who is training for a stage race in Chattanooga later this year. What a small world!
We grabbed some of the delicious and well-earned post race food before making our way back home, celebrating a job well done for both of us.
Below are some links to great pictures from The Ascend Collective who braved the elements and sat in some mud to get the perfect shots.
Total ascent: 1335 ft
Total descent: 1220 ft