Mike's a couple years my junior and he's also somewhat new to ultra running, but not at all new to running. He got his true ultra running baptism at the Devil Dogs 100K in December. Seeing his Facebook post that he had moved off the HAT Run wait list made me chuckle, as he and I would actually be running the same event. Kind of cool to be running an ultra knowing a guy I've known for as long as I can remember would be there too. Competition? No not at all. Mike's at that point in running where he's still trying to run fast and me, yeah I'm at the complete other end of the spectrum; I just want to enjoy the scenery and finish under the allotted cut off time.
I had been to the HAT Run before. In 2014 I ran with such an awful cold, that I really didn't have fun. And last year's story had an even worse ending. Days before the race, the region got a dumping of snow. The day of that storm was the same day the pull cord on my Mom's snow blower broke. My time to clear her snow was limited so I shoveled as fast as I could and I somehow strained my back. I went to the HAT Run anyway, made it to the first aid station and got a ride back to my Jeep in the race director's Jeep. My back was spasming and tightening up with extreme pain so my 2018 HAT Run was a DNF (my first and so far only 50K DNF). I was coming back this year to first of all have the fun I missed in 2014 and to avenge the DNF of 2018.
This is the 31st edition of the HAT Run 50K, it's held at Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace Maryland. 30 years of experience has ensured that this is a top notch, well run event. The format is basically two 13.7 mile laps of the park after an initial short loop of about 3.6 miles. There's enough elevation gain to get your attention (4,300') and while there is some road running, the majority is scenic trail with enough water crossings to keep your shoes clean. Unique to this event is the start format, similar to cross country events.
The Classic Cross Country Start
Picture In Picture - the results page actually has time synced video of the finishers.
This is the first pass through the start area.
Rolling into the wooded trail, I was starting to feel like I may be establishing a pace I could maintain all day. Unlike the last race, the first few miles were not a muddy quagmire; they were quite dry and runnable. Considering last year's race was in question up till the last minute because of a crazy snow fall, these trail conditions were awesome. This year's weather feature was high winds. It had been windy all night and I thought the forecast was for them to die down as the day went on, but they never did. In the forest they were nearly non-existent, but in the farm fields they were strong. It was pretty cool when they were at your back, you could really feel the push. That wind was an easy battle, I wore a wind jacket and zipped it up when I was in the wind and unzipped it when I wasn't.
Susquehanna State Park is a combination of farmland pastures and heavily forested hillsides. Running through the park, you just feel the history emanating from its grounds. Its nestled along the banks of the Susquehanna River just before it pours into the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace Maryland. The race starts and finishes at the Stepping Stone Farm Museum.
The course winds through a camp ground with cabins and right through a restored historic section with a working grist mill. On the two major climbs on the course, the view of the river is pretty amazing. My favorite along the course is an amazingly huge American Beech Tree on top of one of the many hills you climb.
|Photo Borrowed From MD DNR|
|Chugging Pickle Juice - One Of Many On The Day|
|Intriguing Water Sharing Setup Between The Two Adjacent Aid Stations|
Huma Chia Energy Gel
Pickle Juice Sport
|More Coca Cola Please|
Oh yeah, the Bear attack? Yeah that didn't happen. What did happen was that I got a scratch from a thorn on my left thigh somewhere in the first three miles. On the first lap descending to the water crossing, a volunteer asked, "did you fall already?". I assumed he was talking to someone behind me and looked over my shoulder. He said, "no I mean you, look at your knee". The tiny little scratch was dumping blood nicely and it seemed to bleed most of the day. Fast forward to near the end of the run, my knee is now covered with blood and two young guys volunteering at a road crossing commented on how "bad ass" my bloody knee looked. I chuckled and admitted it was merely a scratch from a thorn. They protested loudly and said, "Tell no one! Clearly a Bear attacked you! Stick with that story!" So there you have it, yes I was bloody and yes, those two made me laugh, but no a Bear did not attack me (thankfully).
|Tasty Post Race Brew|
- Surprisingly, my friend Mike's Jeep got broken into while he was running and his wallet was emptied.
- I'm pretty sure I saw a woman cut the course and hang out to cross the finish in a time that wouldn't raise suspicion. Not sure why anyone would do that...just stupid...and yes, I know her bib number.
|The 2019 HAT Run Hat by Boco Gear|