Enter the inaugural Buzzard Day 50K Trail Run, held about 45min from my home in Medina County within the Cleveland MetroParks, namely the Hinckley Reservation. I first heard about it near the end of 2012 and after hearing more details about it at January's Run for Regis 50K, I registered just after finishing that race. It's led by multiple seasoned ultra marathoners and local "legends." For them, this area is their weekly training ground. For me, I'd never ever been to these trails and honestly, I'm glad I never saw it until yesterday. Talking after the race, it actually took five years for them to obtain the permit for the event. Lots of relationship building with the park officials but eventually, the race became a reality and all of the finishers are better because of it.
The Buzzard 50K/25K is the epitome of what is good and pure within the local trail running community.
Why is that? Well, it's more than just running and burning tens of thousands of calories. It's about community and taking the proceeds from race entries and giving back to the local community. It's about supporting the sponsors who gave of themselves to make the race happen. It's not about lining the wallets of the race directors. Absolutely top notch race organization and a genuine care about each and every runner was evident from months of pre-race communication and through even today. It just "feels good" to participate in a race like this. It's so much more than just another finish line (but that doesn't hurt either!).
|Packet Pickup inside the cabin and location of post-race "dinner"|
(Photo courtesy of Dr. George T.)
|Moments before the start (Photo courtesy of Dr. George T.)|
As the day progressed and temperature rose, the trail softened, mud appeared and ice went away where the sun could reach. The views just kept amazing me over the lake and through the barren trees where the sun blazed through. My 2nd lap was only 1min slower than the first and the 3rd loop was my slowest of the day. That was miles 15-ish to 23-ish. I definitely took more walking breaks during that loop and lost some time...probably a solid 15min. After finishing my 3rd loop with only 1 to go, my calculations told me that a sub-6hr finish was certainly within reach. Leaving home that morning, I told my wife I'd probably finished between 2pm and 3pm (6 to 7hr finish) so finishing under 6 sounded awesome to me. I only needed to maintain the pace I had going. Well, during the final loop I came alive again and ran harder and challenged the hills with a renewed vigor. My overall finishing time would've been probably 5min faster or more had I not slowed to a walk to talk to people but honestly, WHO CARES?! I enjoyed the conversation and the last one was with a man hiking on the trail by himself. It was just after that last water crossing. He had once weighed 320 pounds and was probably in his late 50s. He now weighs 250 pounds and is looking for another 20 pounds to shed. Taller than me (I'm 6'2"), is a big guy but he's out there...doing it...walking through freezing water and into a shoe-sucking mud pit, he's doing it. After talking and walking briskly for about 5min, I told him I've got to get moving and finish this thing...plus, I saw a runner up ahead and definitely had it in me to track her down but that conversation made me lose sight of her. Still though, no big deal! It turns out I knew that runner and today's her birthday so I'm very happy that I didn't chase her down...plus, it was her best-ever 50K finish as she totally destroyed her personal record.
In the end, I crossed the line in 5hrs, 52min, 44sec...good enough for 26th out of 48 50K finishers. Later as I compared past times of other 50Ks, that was still my fastest 50K since April 2009. VERY HAPPY with that! Here's me at the finish and thanks again to Dr. George T for capturing the photo:
|20th ultra-marathon finish: 5hrs, 52min, 44sec|
Run Happy, friends.