Latest reviews by scott snell

(2017)
"A Muddy and Bloody Run With The Naked Bavarian 40 Miler"
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The Naked Bavarian is a young race with 2015 being the inaugural running of it and this year being only the third running of the event. It is advertised and marketed as a low cost, no frills race. I agree with the first part because at 40 miles for $35 (or about $0.88 per mile) it is the most miles I have ever gotten for my money at any event with an entry fee. The second “no frills” part is a bit debatable. While the swag is not overwhelming, I have received a finishers’ award both years I have run it; in 2016 it was a bottle opener and in 2017 it was a mini glass growler. Additionally, the aid stations are frequent (about every 3.5 miles) and well stocked (no gels, but plenty of other standard ultra aid station foods). The Naked Bavarian, along with at least seven other events, is organized and put on by Uberendurancesports under the guidance of race director Stephen Weiss. I’ve only run three of his events (Naked Bavarian twice and Blues Cruise once, both of which share the same venue and many of the same trails), but all three have left me impressed and wanting to return for another!

The Naked Bavarian course is basically a 20 mile lollipop route with the loop at the end of the lollipop being about 7 miles and the beginning and the end of the course being a 6.5 miles out and back. The 20 mile runners do the course once and the 40 mile runners run the entire course twice. It is held at The Blue Marsh National Recreation Area which is just northwest of Reading, PA. It really is a beautiful venue for a trail race as many sections of the trail run along the lake edge and cross narrow sections of it at several points. Nearly the entire course is on single track trail with the few exceptions (maybe about a mile worth of the 40 mile course) being instances where you run along a road shoulder to cross a road bridge or connect to another trail. I’ve heard the trails for the course described as “beginning trail runner friendly” in regards to the amount of elevation change and technicality. I’d agree with this description, but they are by no means the easiest trails I’ve run. My Garmin and Strava data reported 3610’ and 3027’ of elevation gain respectively for the 40 mile course. So while the course is not a mountain ultra, it is not a flat course with a couple rolling hills either. In regard to the technicality of the trails, I would say the entirety of the course is runnable with the exception of one steep, rocky climb around the 10 mile mark. The only other item of note I would mention about the trails is the steepness of the cupping on the single track through the open grassy sections. When people say technical I think the most common interpretation is lots of exposed rock and roots, these trails have some of that. After running these trails for the third time, I would add excessive cupping to my list of technical aspects of the trail. It may not sound like much, but when the cupping creates a narrow enough channel with steep enough sides that you have to alter your running form and foot placement it is definitely adding a technical factor.

Read my full race report at: https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2017/03/2017-naked-bavarian.html

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(2016)
"Awesome and well organized fat ass style race"
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The Batona 50 is point to point race with 53.4 mile and 50k options. The course follows the path of The Batona Trail. The trail derives its name similar to but not exactly in the format of an acronym: BAck TO NAture. It makes its way through the NJ Pinelands National Reserve from the north end at Ong’s Hat in Brendan T. Byrne State forest to the southern end at Lake Absegami in Bass River State Forest. Along the way it takes you on a tour through the heart of Wharton State Forest passing Batsto Village and numerous campgrounds.The trail is pretty typical of South Jersey trails in that it is a reflection of the common sandy soils of the coastal plains, resulting in high sand content and sandy trails. The second common feature of trails in Southern NJ and the landscape in general is a lack of elevation change. The Batona Trail shares the nearly total absence of climbs and descents with the rest of the landscape in the region with only 530’ of elevation gain recorded by my Garmin for the entirety of the trail.

The Batona 50 event is organized as a “fat ass” event. Typically, “fat ass” events have no frills, no fee, no aid, no schwag, and no course markings; making them more or less a large group run. However, the organizers of the Batona 50 have gone beyond what I would consider to be the standard definition of a “fat ass” event. While there are no course markings, the trail is pretty well marked already by trail blazes so there really isn’t any need for additional markings. As for frills, there was no schwag for registering or finishers’ medals, but they did offer the option to purchase a pretty nice looking long sleeve shirt. There was no registration fee, but the organizers did ask that in lieu of the fee that participants consider donating to the Pinelands Preservation Alliance or NJ Conservation Foundation. It was in the aid department where the event really went beyond my expectations from a “fat ass” event. The course had six planned aid stations along the 50+ mile distance, four of which doubled as aid for the 50k distance. A surprise aid station popped up during the event for the 50+ mile distance between aid stations on the second half of the course where they were about 10 miles apart. All of the aid stations were stocked with standard fuel and hydration donated by the runners and the amazing group of volunteers manning them. And heck, they even offered the option of transporting a drop bag to any of the aid stations for you!

This was my last ultra for the year and with it taking place only four weeks after finishing my first 100 miler, I was really questioning how hard I wanted to push myself while running it. I didn’t train much between the two events. I did some easy medium to short recovery runs following the 100 miler, one long (25 mile) training run, and some mid to short runs during a taper leading up to the 50 miler. In total, I ran about 75 miles in the four weeks between the two races. I was really banking on the fitness and endurance from the 100 mile training to carry over and get me through the race, which is a strategy I have never used and did not trust. Additionally, I was trying to comfort myself with the fact that the course was super flat and therefore the 50 miles would seem “easy”. All the while I knew that while one 50 miler may be “easy” relative to another 50 miler, running 50 miles is never “easy” and I knew that at some point during the run I would most likely be hurting and in pain. With these trepidations leading up to the event, I was telling myself that my plan was to go out at comfortable pace and maintain that for the entirety of the run. I stuck to that plan up until the race started.

Find my full race report at: https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-batona-50-is-point-to-point-race.html

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(2016)
"Racing Crossfitters"
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I am confessing before even writing this race report that one of the motivating factors for me even registering for this race was to outrun crossfitters participating in it. I have nothing against crossfit or those that practice crossfit. I simply wanted to test myself against crossfitters in what I consider to be a mid-distance race. Since I have been focused on ultrarunning and endurance racing, I really did not consider myself trained for a 15K. Personally, and this is open to debate, I would in most ways consider an athlete who trains for 50 milers to be a practitioner of a different sport than an athlete who specializes in running 5Ks. Likewise, I would argue that crossfitters train for a sport other than running. So, after seeing some Facebook posts from crossfit gyms who were building up a bit of a competition between themselves about running this 15K, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to test myself at a shorter distance against other athletes who do not specialize in those distances. Honestly, I saw it as an amature versus amature event. Me on one side and all the crossfitters on the other. I knew none of us would be near the winner at the finish. Let the marathoners and and half marathoners win this, I was here to test myself against the crossfitters. The second strongest motivating factor for me to do this race was simply the convenience of it. The race takes place at Bodman Park in central NJ, which is a short drive from my wife’s parents’ house. Which meant that we may even have a babysitter and we may even be able to participate in the same race.

Read my full review at: https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2017/02/2016-navesink-challenge-15k.html

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(2016)
"My First 100 Miler"
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The TARC (Trail Animals Running Club) 100 is a hundred mile race which takes place in Westwood, MA, about a 20 minute drive from downtown Boston. In fact, the Boston skyline is visible, weather permitting, from one point on the course. The 2016 running of the TARC 100 was the fourth running of the event and will unfortunately be the final running of it for the foreseeable future due to a number of reasons. From the few TARC members I heard from about putting the TARC 100 on hold, the main reason that seemed to be repeated was that a TARC member had past and the club felt stretched thin between TARC 100 and all the other races they put on. With it possibly being the final running of a race being put on by a club that already felt stretched thin, one might expect a subpar performance for overall race event coordination. The TARC 100 race director, Josh Katzman, and the TARC crew had quite the contrary in mind with an amazingly well organized event that was run smoothly and exceeded all expectations.

The course was amazingly well marked with flagging and signs both with reflective tape so they were easy to see when a headlamp was needed; it would have been difficult to get lost or go off course unless you were in a seriously foggy state of mind (or you head out fast and miss the first turn, that will be explained later). All aid stations were well stocked with everything you would expect and manned by super helpful and friendly volunteers. Additionally, the course route and the spacing of the aid stations was proof that a significant amount of time and effort was put into getting them right. The course is a 25 mile loop of primarily single track trail. There is one short section, probably less than a couple hundred feet, of the course where there is two way traffic. Other than that, there is no repeated trail during each loop. I’d estimate that the course is easily over 90% trail with the remainder being made up of short stretches along gravel and a few paved roads. It was somewhat technical, some sections more so than others, with a decent amount of exposed roots and rocky sections. There is also a fair amount of elevation change with about 2,500 feet of gain during each lap for a total of 10,000 feet of elevation gain. Not a crazy amount of gain, but definitely not flat either.

Read my full race report with photos here: https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2016/10/tarc-100-race-report-how-i-broke-two.html

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(2016)
"My Failed Attempt to Improve My 50 Mile Time"
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The Wildcat Ridge Romp is a multi distance (10 mile, 20 mile, 50k, 50 mile, 100 k) event organized and managed by the NJ Trail Series group. It takes place at the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area in northern New Jersey typically in mid August when it is nice and warm; I’ll elaborate on the heat for the event this year a little later. All distances for the event are run by repeating a 10 mile loop as many times as necessary to finish a runner’s chosen distance. The course is primarily single track trail with a few short sections of ATV trail, paved road, and fire road mixed in. The trail is pretty technical in my opinion with some semi treacherous rocky sections and enough elevation change to keep it interesting even if it was completely smooth runnable trail. My Garmin data showed a little under 1000’ of elevation gain per loop with 4702’ at the end of the 50 miler. The one creek crossing at around the six mile mark of the loop offered a solid bridge so wet feet due to creek crossings were not an issue. Unfortunately, due to other reasons wet feet would not be avoided altogether.

Following finishing my first 50 miler (North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain, NY) recovery went well and faster than expected so I returned to my normal non-training routine of running. It was mid May and I was feeling confident and motivated, but had no other races lined up for the remainder of the year. The North Face 50 miler was intended to be the running pinnacle of the year for me in 2016, but returning to running afterwards left me looking for a new challenge. Since my first attempt at a 50 miler went better than expected, I thought attempting another and improving my time at the same distance would be an achievable goal to work towards. I especially thought it was a doable goal because I wasn’t aiming for a massive improvement. My finishing time at the North Face 50 miler was 9:04:29. I was hoping to improve my 50 miler time to under 9 hours. My thinking was that if I could find a similar 50 miler, shaving five minutes off of my time wouldn’t be that much more incredibly difficult. If I hadn’t had to stop to clear my colon at the NF 50 miler, I would have already been under 9 hours. In my mind, I was literally one poo away from my goal.

Read my full race report at: https://scottcsnell.blogspot.com/2017/01/2016-wildcat-ridge-romp.html

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