Logistically, a car is needed to get to the race, so either rent at an airport (if it is LaGuardia, driving in Queens is not fun) or in our case, we stayed in Manhattan and rented a car from Avis on 54th. I bring this up because they are open late on Saturday while many rental companies close at noon reopening on Monday.
Leaving the city was easy, just west to the Henry Hudson parkway, then over the Washington Bridge and then instantly the drive connects with the scenic and easy Palisades Parkway to the Central Valley where we had a room at the Hampton.
The next morning, we made it to the parking area to ride a school bus to the starting area (last bus is at 6:15). The temperature was in the 50 with a cloudy overcast that would last through the day.
For the 7:00 am start, I made my way up to about 20 feet from the starting line so the fast runner could take off but they all formed behind and next to me and then officials moved us all up. This force me to take off at a faster then desired pace but I was able to let the rabbits by on a wider section before the road narrowed. There is a short ½ mile rocky section followed by degrade paved road that once lead to former vacation homes that have all been torn down for the park (I am guessing). Then after about 1.2 miles the race took a sharp left turn and then we hit some single-track.
The single-track sections are what make this race unique. There many rolling hills with lots-and-lots of rocks from golf ball to softball to even basketball sizes. There are a few quick scrambles, and many trees laying over the trail. Ultimately this is not an easy running course. Only about 4-5 miles of the race I would consider either road or smooth runnable. Also, the area had received multiple days of rain making the rocks slick and gave few good mud sections with a few creek crossings. Altogether, according to my Garmin 910, I climbed over 6,188 feet!
As for support there were 6 or 7 well-staffed and stocked aid-stations. For this race I only took their Gu and refilled my water bottle. I ran with a single bottle belt and Nathan Utility vest that I carried my GU, Sport Legs, and camera in. I do regret not carrying or adding some Vaseline to my legs which ended up being very chaffed at the end.
Personally, I felt some residual fatigue from my 26-mile trail race two weeks before and I figured my time would be slower then 2010 but I still want to push myself. I kept a good pace through much of the race and I ran all the hills until about mile 25 where I twisted my left ankle on a steep down hill. I was able to walk it off but became a little more cautious on the bad rock sections.
Around mile 27 or 28, the race hit very rocky sections where I could not run, much less, balance on all the rocks in a very hilly section.
At mile 29, the trail became runnable where I was able to make some good time and open up my legs. My mistake was looking back to see if anyone I had past on the earlier climbs was catching up. About ½ mile from the finish, I saw someone gaining on me so I decided to open it up on the final rocky road. Sure enough, I landed on a loose rock and rolled my right ankle. I heard a pop sound and it really hurt.
At that point, I was limping in pain and a few runners began to pass me. I was about to walk it in but looking at my watch I still had a chance to finish in less than 6 hours. To obtain that goal, I had to dig deep and force myself to do a fast wobble run. At 5:55:52, I crossed the finish line coming in 37th place and beat my 2010 by 9 minutes.
My next stop was to the aid-station to get my ankle wrapped and then I waited for Kelly who beat her time by 30 minutes. Normally, we would hang around but we took off to do some sight seeing including Captain Lawrence Brewery in Elmsford, NY. So after sampling some good NY brews, we made it back to the city for a night of limping around and eating some NYC-priced food.
In conclusion, this is great addition to a NYC trip for trailrunners. We enjoyed seeing Spiderman on Sunday and Monday I played tourist on a double-decker bus seeing the 86 floor of the Empire State Building, the 911 Memorial, a couple breweries, and enjoyed lots of Pizza. Although limping through the city for two days can be a drag but it was still worth the trip.