North Face Endurance Challenge Trail Marathon (Bear Mountain, NY)
Finish Time: 6:12
Temp: 67 degrees
Conditions: Warm, muddy and buggy
Run For: Natasha
What is harder than running UP trails for 4,222 ft. with mud 6 inches deep? The answer, running DOWN trails for 4,222 ft. with mud 6 inches deep! It has seemed like every day for the past few weeks all it has done is rain. It is spring and we usually get a good amount of rain, but I don’t remember seeing the sun now for quite some time. I figured the trails at Bear Mountain, NY would not be dry or ideal, but I did not expect them to be so wet and in such poor conditions. Everything from the rocks to the leaves were wet, especially because it had rained again the night before. On most of the course traction was an issue and would be throughout the day. When your trail running shoes are completely caked in mud from top to bottom it was hard to feel comfortable and stable, even on the drier sections of the course.
As a coach, I am always telling runners to “run smart” and today I had to take my own advice and play it safe, not taking any unnecessary chances. I wasn’t going out there to win the race, my goals were to finish, stay upright and come back in one piece. Luckily I didn’t fall but I lost count of how many other runners I saw go down time after time. The only issues I had were stepping on what I thought were rocks, only to realize it was mud and then seeing my foot completely disappear in the mess up to my shin. This happened for the first time around mile 3 and then it seemed like every mile then after that. Completely soaked and muddy feet and shoes was the theme for this marathon.
The other challenging/annoying part of this marathon was the bugs. The temperature was surprisingly warm, even in the morning, and there was no wind or slight breeze. With all the mud and water, the trails were ideal for all the small little flies/bugs and they were all too excited to follow a sweaty runner coming through. I did apply a lot of bug spray before the start, but figured I was sweating it off because the bugs were on me just after mile 2. They flew in my face, getting in my ears, nose, eyes and mouth the WHOLE time out on the course. Dealing with the mud and tough terrain was a challenge, but the bugs made it ten times worse. I was able to take a bug spray shower at the mile 11 aid station, thinking this would do the trick and make the second half of the race more tolerable. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I swear that they loved me even more because two steps back onto the trail there were even more bugs on me than before. The bug spray seemed to attract them to me even more!!
The best way to avoid them was to keep running and outpace them, trying not to slow down and let them catch up. I had a number of them go up my nose and in my ears, one flew in my eye and I ate about three of them during the second half of the marathon.
Overall, this was a pretty technical course with plenty of climbing and elevation gain throughout the mountain. The mud and bugs made this one a lot harder than it would have been in better conditions. I was able to get through feeling sore and tired, but still good and ready to rest up and recover for the next one.
Marathon #30 was run for Natasha and I was honored to be able to run for her and share her story. I’ve done multiple Team Challenge events with Natasha and it seems like every one of them she does, she is never feeling her best. Yet, she is still there and still pushing through the pain and discomfort. She has been through so much at such a young age and consistently shows so much strength and determination. When talking about IBD Heroes and IBD Warriors, Natasha’s the perfect example of one! She doesn’t quit and she keeps fighting when the odds are stacked against her.
Natasha is also an asset to the Team Challenge family and community, constantly putting herself out there to help others any way she can. She doesn’t hold back any of the details about what she has been through and will be the first to offer support to anyone even if it’s just someone to listen who “gets it.” Natasha has been through it and she does “get it” and being there as someone who can relate is so valuable.
I knew when I asked Natasha if I could share her story that she would gladly allow me to. It is such an honor to be able to raise awareness and share what these incredible people have gone through and still go through on a daily basis. Natasha has been fighting for so long and her life hasn’t been easy dealing with the disease. I run alongside of her and so many others because we need to find cures now. We will get those cures and I know it will be because of people like Natasha who refuse to stop until we do.
Thank you, Natasha for being such an inspiration to me and for so many. You are an incredible fighter and I definitely channeled some of that fight yesterday out on the course. Knowing you would never quit just because things get hard, helped keep me going strong until the finish. Marathon #30 is finished and we are 26.2 miles closer to a cure that Natasha and so many more need. Thank you again for being one of my IBD Heroes!!
This 26.2 was for you Natasha! 26.2 For You!