When the alarm went off at 4 a.m. and the dogs did not even stir, I had to question why I was getting up so early to drive to Delaware to run 31 miles in very hot and humid conditions.
Finishing the run around noon time, I remembered why. This was a great morning running in the woods on a series of trails through varied terrain. And the Delaware Ultra Dawgs, in its first event, put on a great run. (Plus, no one is on the roads at 4 a.m. so the drive to Newark, Del., was a breeze.)
Five members of the VHTRC were among the 26 finishers of the 50K event, which appearently was actually 32.8 miles. Myself and Quatro Hubbard ran about half the race together and took third and fourth in 5:50. Jim Cavanaugh and Victoria Kendall tied for 11th in 7:14 with Victoria also being the second female finisher. Bill Wandel was just a bit behind them in 15th. The winners were Evan Sandt and Hubyert Groenendaal, who tied in 5:11.
I'm not sure who to credit for Delwareís first ultra. I will give it to Carl Camp and Margie Hughes, primarily because they seemed to be organizing it and I met them at the pre-race meal at Umstead in April. They and the other volunteers designed a two loop course with a few hills, but nothing very steep.
Quatro recommended that the run be renamed the Mason-Dixon Field of Dreams 53K because the course takes runners past one of the original stone, Mason-Dixon line markers. Also the course uses a trail that goes through the middle of a corn field, which was pretty amsuing.
The loops started with a one-mile single track circle that led to another trail that connected us to the first part of this figure eight like course. The trail led to some fields, where it turned into more of a dirt road before becoming single track again. This change from single track to dirt road to single track reoccured frequently in the first 7.7 miles of the figure eight. The second half of the figure eight was essentially all single track, with fewer steep hills then the first half. The course was well designed, with plenty of aid stations. Organizers even added more water stops on the second loop. There was far more aid than one would expect for fat ass 50K. And it was well marked. I did not hear of anyone getting lost. Plus they gave us maps and directions.
The run utilized White Clay Creek, which apparently is a mix of county and state park land. There were a few mountain bikers out there, but essentially we had the trails to ourselves. The terrain was very similar to running in Rock Creek Park in D.C.
At the end, Quatra, Margie and I were trying to figure out why the course seemed so slow even accounting for the extra distance. We blamed the heat. Despite a lot of shade, it was still very warm and there were large stretches when we ran along side and through corn fields that were totally exposed.
This event was great and I hope it returns to the calendar next year.
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