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Sunday, January 26, 2020

465 Challenge - My First Virtual Event



"Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 465 Challenge as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"

I think I first heard of “virtual” races roughly about three of four years ago, maybe sometime in 2016. As far as I know, they were a bit of a novel idea at the time and not by any means common. Since then, especially in the last year or so, it seems they are growing in number and becoming more common as stand alone events and offered more frequently as “virtual” options for existing and established “in-person” events.

I have to admit, when I first heard of “virtual” races, I wasn’t an immediate fan. Mainly because I didn’t see the need for them personally. I always thought “I’m motivated enough to get out and do my training runs for trail races so why should I register to run a virtual event?” I quickly came to realize that one could use the reverse reasoning of my argument and thereby show the need and value of virtual events for anyone that could use a bit more motivation to get out the door and get some miles. One of the benefits of being a BibRave Pro is that it offers the opportunity to try new products, or in this case races, that I likely would not have tried otherwise. I’ve never been critical of virtual events, but now that I am partaking in one I’m hoping I’ll learn more benefits they may offer beyond just the motivation factor.

The inaugural 465 Virtual Challenge asks participants to cover the distance of Interstate 465 (USS Indianapolis Memorial Highway) which encircles Indianapolis, Indiana covering a distance of approximately 53 miles. The event runs from January 1st through February 29th allowing ample time for athletes of all levels to complete it. The challenge isn’t strictly for runners. Any type of self propelled activity counts towards the 53 mile distance challenge. As the 465 Challenge website states, you can “run, bike, walk, swim, or skip” your way to the finish line.

And if you hit the 53 mile goal prior to the end of the two month event, don’t stop there. The event offers special recognition for any participants who complete multiple virtual loops around I-465! As of now (about one month into the event) I’m at just over two loops and hope to complete two more before the end of the event. 
Now that we’re nearing the halfway mark of the 465 Virtual Challenge, the biggest impression I have taken away from the event is the support and motivation that comes with the community organizing it and partaking in it. From the Facebook group interactions to the motivational emails, there are ample reminders and inspirational stories to keep me moving. And there’s still time to get in on the inaugural event this year! Register at https://www.465challenge.com/ and use code “BIBRAVE” for 10% off registration fees!


Monday, January 20, 2020

Top Five Beast Coast Performances of 2019




5:  Rich Riopel’s 24 Hour Performance to Make the 2019 U.S. National 24 Hour Team


Rich Riopel at the 2019 Dawn 2 Dusk 2 Dawn 24 hour. 


At the 2019 Dawn 2 Dusk 2 Dawn 24 hour Ultra in Sharon Hill, PA, Rich Riopel returned to the world of competitive timed racing with an impressive performance. He ran a steady and consistent race to finish with 161.8207 miles. This earned him a first place overall finish at the race and a spot on the 2019 U.S. National 24 Hour Team! It was also good enough to earn him the third best 24 hour performance of 2019. This move back to timed races came as a bit of a surprise as Rich had moved away from those races and had run mostly specific distance trail ultras since running with the 2017 U.S. National 24 Hour Team at the 24 Hour World Championship Race in Belfast, Ireland. 


I admit that I may be a bit biased for including this performance in my top 5 of 2019 as Rich is a fellow New Jerseyian, but having a Beast Coaster throw down one of the top 24 hour performances of the year and represent ultrarunners on a World stage is pretty impressive in my opinion. 


4:  Alondra Moody and Luke Bollshweiler For Their Smokies Challenge Adventure Run FKTs


Alondra Moody (Ultrasignup photo)
Luke Bollshweiler (Ultrasignup photo)

Last year Alondra Moody improved the unsupported FKT for the Smokies Challenge Adventure Run (SCAR) route from 23h11min to 20h11min. The previous FKT was held by Natalia Traver and set in December of 2018. Luke Bollschweiler bettered the male supported FKT from 14h50min22s to 14h28min33s. The previous record was held by David Worth and set in May of 2011. Their performances earned them both nominations for the Fastest Known Time of the Year Award (FKTOY). The SCAR is a route following the Appalachian Trail (AT) across the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Fontana Dam over 70 miles to Davenport Gap. Given the quick turnaround on the bettering of the FKT for the entirety of the AT in recent years (Scott Jurek - 2015, Karl Meltzer - 2016, Joe "Stringbean" McConaughy -2017, Karel Sabbe - 2018), I predict we’ll see faster FKTs for well established sections of the AT becoming the target more frequently. 


3:  New Male and Female Unsupported FKTs on the Long Trail

                 
                     Jeff Garmire (IG photo, report)


New England friends!!! I am so excited to return to the @greenmountainclub and kick off the 28th annual James P Taylor Outdoor Adventure Series with a talk about hiking the Long Trail this fall. I would love to see you there! Below are some details. 🀩🀸🏽‍♀️🧚‍♂️ • “Rugged Happiness: Setting the Unsupported Female Record on the Long Trail”
When: Friday, December 20th, 2019, 7 P.M. 
Where: GMC Visitor Center, Waterbury Center, VT • “This past fall Nika “Early Bird” Meyers returned to the Long Trail for the second time, however, this time she ended up setting the Unsupported Female Record by finishing the trail in 6 days, 11 hours, and 40 minutes. Through photos, videos, and stories, she will share moments from the journey of deep strength, unexpected fear, sleep-deprived silliness, abundant discomfort, and overwhelming happiness. The Long Trail is where her love for long-distance hiking started and she is excited to share her story with the community that has helped give her the confidence to dream big!” •

Admission is $5 for members and $8 for nonmembers; kids under 12 are free. Tickets are available at the door only. Proceeds support local sections and the GMC Education Program. •

Colorado friends, I’ll be giving a talk in Aspen on January 7th 😁. More details to come. .
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#longtrail #fastestknowntime #longtrail2019 #fallhiking 
#hikingadventures #triplecrownofhiking #thruhike #hikevt #pct2014 #cdt2016 #at2018 #appalachiantrail #longdistancehiking #storytelling #ultralightbackpacking #sheexplores #womenwhohike #optoutside #takemebackpacking #everyoneswilderness #vtraised #trailchat #hikingultralight #forceofnature #palantepacks #vermontsports #vermont #motivationmonday #mountainmonday
Nika "Early Bird" Meyers (photo from her trip report)






Vermont’s Long Trail saw a good deal of FKT action in 2019 with three unsupported records set. The Long Trail is a rugged 273 mile jaunt running from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts/Vermont state line. It has a long history of FKTs, with the earliest documented record I could find being set in 1978 by Dr. Warren Doyle (8 d13h25min). Nika “Early Bird” Meyers set the bar for the female record with a time of 6d11h40min. Although this is the first female unsupported FKT (there is a “self supported” record - Jennifer Pharr-Davis - 7d15h40m) for the Long Trail, it is not the FKT just for the sake of being the only known time. Meyers’ record is only about six hours shy of the male unsupported record which was set in 2010 and was just surpassed in 2019. That 2010 male unsupported record (6d17h25min) was surpassed twice in the past year, first by Josh Perry (6d9h48min45sec) then by Jeff Garmire (5d23h48min). For a record that stood for nine years to be
broken twice in under a month’s span, I believe is a sign of the rising popularity and interest in FKTs.

1.5: Big’s Backyard Has Its First Female Winner - Maggie Guterl

Maggie Guterl at Big's Backyard (photo from Tailwind blog)
There have been plenty of times in ultrarunning events where a female is the fastest runner in the race. I’m not sure if it has been researched, but I would venture to guess that it is even more likely for a female to get the overall win at last person standing events such as Big’s Backyard. What makes Maggie Guterl’s performance at Big’s this past year so amazing isn’t the 250 miles she covered in 60 hours. It’s the fact that Big’s is “THE” last person standing race. It has the highest qualifying standards (a selection from Laz) of all the last person standing races. You have to earn your spot at the starting line by proving yourself with past performances. Basically, it’s an international competition of the best of the best in this style of race. And Maggie proved she was the best one there this year.

1.5: Wesley Atkinson Wins the Pennsylvania Triple Crown Series of Mountain Running

Wesley Atkinson (left) at the Easter States 100 finish with Race Director David Walker (right) (photo from Eastern States website)
Let me start this final top Beast Coast performance with the explanation of the “1.5” and the lack of a first and second place performance. I could not place either Maggie or Wesley’s performances above or below the other. Both amazed me and I did not want to diminish either. Additionally, why can’t we have a male and female Beast Coast Performance of the Year? My blog, my list, my rules. Right? And with that, the male Beast Coast Performance of the Year: Wesley Atkinson’s two year journey to win the Pennsylvania Triple Crown of Mountain Running.

If you’ve been a reader of my blog, you know that I am especially fond of the PA Triple Crown Series. But that is not why I picked Wesley’s performance as male Beast Coast Performance of the Year. He spent both 2018 and 2019 chasing the Triple Crown and achieved that goal in stunning fashion in 2019 setting two course records along the way. It looked like he was well on his way to winning it in 2018 with first place finishes at Hyner 50k and Worlds End 100k, but due to circumstances beyond his control (the cancellation of the 2018 Eastern States 100) he would not even get a shot at finishing it that year. Wesley returned and started the 2019 series with a 10th place finish at Hyner. After that he dominated the series. He bettered the course record at Worlds End 100k from 11:37:52 (2016) to 10:50:38. This set some high expectations for everyone watching Eastern States 100 to see what he could do at that distance. Wesley did not disappoint. He finished first place and took over two hours off the course record from 20:30:36 (2016) to 18:23:47 to finish first place male finisher of the series!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

2020 Running Goals


My top nine photos of 2019 from Instagram.

Shortly after finishing the Hyner View Trail Challenge 50k last year, I made the decision to change up my race selections for 2020. It wasn’t because of how Hyner went or because I don’t want to run Hyner again. I love the Hyner 50k and definitely want to run it again, but the catch for me is that once I’m registered for Hyner I end up following the inevitable path of running the entire PA Triple Crown Series. I figure if I’m doing Hyner, I might as well run Worlds End 100k and Eastern States 100 as well. I decided the best way to avoid getting caught in that trap and change up my race schedule was to not register for Hyner 50k. I have nothing against any of those three races. It’s just that after three consecutive years of my race schedule revolving around the three same “A” races, I felt it was time for a change.

For 2020 I want to make my “A” race a 24 hour timed event. A 24 hour event has been on my to do list for a few years now, but never a high priority, so it never happened (hence one of my favorite quotes below). I hope to change that this year and see what I’m capable of achieving in a 24 hour race. If things go well at whatever 24 hour event I decide to run, I should be able to finally achieve a second running goal that has eluded me for the last two years: to PR my longest distance in a single run. I’m hoping that if I choose a 24 hour event with an easy course I will be able to average at least 12 minute miles or 5 mph for a total of 120 miles at the end of 24 hours. This will easily be my longest distance run as my current longest distance is finishing the Tesla Hertz 100 miler which was actually about 104.8 miles. 




An additional goal for this year is to run another “last person standing” event. After running my first two events (Run Ragged) of that type last year and for the most part enjoying them while doing pretty well, I want to run some more of these types of events. Ultimately, I hope to get a chance to run at the original last person standing race, Laz’s Big’s Backyard. I realize it may not happen at all considering the growing popularity of those types of races, but I figure if I run races that build my running resume geared towards last person races it will better my odds to hopefully run at Big’s some day. Running Big’s Backyard definitely isn’t strictly a 2020 goal, but more of a long term goal to work towards year after year until it happens. In my opinion, it’s good to have the late game goals working in the background while having the short term goals mixed in to keep things interesting.



A non race related goal for 2020 is to run all the streets of my hometown, Egg Harbor Township, NJ. This goal was directly inspired by Rickey Gates’ project to run every single street in San Francisco. I started on this goal at the end of October this year with the intention of making it a longer term goal and hopefully completing it before the end of 2020. I’ve posted a couple blog posts specifically about this goal and plan to update with posts throughout the year as I make progress. You can get more details and background about the project from those posts (here and here), but the overall concept is just as the project name suggests, to run every single street of the town.

Another somewhat running related goal I have for this year is one just for fun: to run a Twinkie Weiner Sandwich Mile to celebrate the movie UHF. My plan is to do this the same way as I do the Annual Hot Dog Run every year, just with Twinkie weiner sandwiches in place of the hot dogs. If you’re not familiar with the Annual Hot Dog Run, just think beer mile with beer replaced by hot dogs. If you’re not familiar with UHF, go watch it. I plan to do this run either July 21st to celebrate the UHF release date or June 2nd in honor of Channel 62 (6-2), the focal point of the plot of the movie. If you have an opinion on which date is more appropriate, please vote!


My final running related goal for the year isn’t about any race I want to run or hitting a new running time or distance PR. It is to volunteer at a local race with my son and any of the other members of his scout troop that want to come along to help out. This is an idea/project that I had a while back, but have never acted on. I put it off for some time because I thought that he was a little young and having him and a few of his scouting friends volunteering at an aid station would be more of a hindrance than a help to the runners and the other aid station volunteers. I feel like he’s matured enough in the past few years to be able to handle some of the aid station tasks and at least help out and encourage some runners for a portion of a race if I stay with him to provide some guidance. I hope it happens and goes well as I see this as being a great fit for service projects for scout troops. The scouts get to help others stay fit and enjoy the outdoors responsibly while also contributing to another community (trail runners) that values the outdoors and our shared public natural areas. If you’ve brought kids to volunteer at a race, I’d love to hear about how it went for you and would greatly appreciate any kind of tips and advice you can provide that would have improved the experience.

2020, sure to be another great year as a BibRave Pro!


2020 Goals

  • Run at least one 24 hour event
  • PR longest distance in a single run (>104.8 miles)
  • Complete my "Run Every Street" of Egg Harbor Township project
  • Run at least one “last person standing” event
  • Volunteer at a local race with my son



Wednesday, November 27, 2019

2019 Goals Reviewed



As we enter the holiday season of 2019 it is prime time to take a look back and assess goals for the past year. After much thought and consideration, I had three running goals this year:
  1. PR a marathon
  2. PR my greatest distance run
  3. Improve my cumulative time for the entire Pennsylvania Triple Crown Series
With time running out to complete any unfinished tasks on this list, it appears that I will have missed the mark on two of my three goals. Things looked great to start the year. At my first race of the year (Rat Race 50k) that I was mainly using to check my fitness level I hit a 50k PR. That wasn’t even one of my goals, but I’ll take it! I managed to smash my marathon PR by nearly 20 minutes at the NJ Marathon only one week after running the Hyner 50k checking box number 1 off my list of goals. Goal number 3 seemed to be just a matter of time as I improved my times at Hyner 50k and Worlds End 100k, but the ultimate goal of improving my cumulative time would fall out of reach at Eastern States 100. I still can’t fully explain it, but something was just off with me leading up to and during that run. That only leaves goal number 2 left, to PR my greatest distance run. Unfortunately, after Eastern States 100 I was just feeling a bit burnt out on running altogether. My original plan was to tackle a supported 200 mile trail run after recovering from Eastern States. I thought that my fitness would be there and this was a great plan, but I hadn’t accounted for the unexpected burn out (and possibly the disappointment that played a role) I would be facing at that point. So in the end, I scrapped the 200 mile attempt and accepted the one out of three goal completion rate.


Although that seems like a low completion rate which may upset some people, I am still pleased with how my 2019 running season played out. I may have not hit all of the targets I set for myself, but I had some pretty big, unexpected successes in other areas. The first being the aforementioned 50k PR and the amazing end to the race where I got smoked by Rich Riopel a quarter mile from the finish. The second major accomplishment for the past year that I am super proud of is the success I’ve found in ‘last individual standing” (LIS) races. I registered and ran my first LIS race (Run Ragged) in June just two weeks after Worlds End 100k hoping to do well, but feeling pretty uncertain about how well with the lack of recovery time between the two races. Surprisingly, I turned out to be the last one standing. I followed that race up with my second LIS race, a true backyard race organized by a running buddy of mine with the start and finish in his backyard. This was a smaller race with only around twenty some runners. I went into it intending to stop at the 50 mile mark because Eastern States 100 was just four weeks away, but by that time it was down to me and one other runner. I decided to stay in it a bit longer and the other runner ended up timing out after finishing only one more lap. Again, I was the last one standing. With those two results, I’m excited to test myself next year at a more competitive LIS race and see what I’m capable of there.


So that more or less wraps up my goals and their outcomes for 2019. Now it is time to look ahead to next year and decide which endeavors I intend to tackle. I still want to PR my greatest distance run and take a shot at a 24 hour race, so I’m thinking I should be able to hit both of those targets in a single event. As for what else is on my to do list next year, I’ll have to give it some thought.




Scott Snell
November 27, 2019


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Every Single Street - Week 1 - Egg Harbor Township, NJ



After one week of a dedicated effort to begin to take on the “Every Single Street” challenge, I have managed to increase the percentage of streets of Egg Harbor Township, NJ I’ve run from 1.94% to 7.63%. While this seems like a pretty substantial increase for a single week towards a goal that I have said is a long term goal, it’s important for me to keep in mind that this was likely one of the greatest gains I’ll make in a single week’s time, at least in the near future. Mainly because of the location of the streets I ran this past week and the weather.


I’m the first to admit that I am not a cold weather runner. Once the air temperature drops my running discomfort seems to always increase. The change in weather seems to induce a bit of asthma for me making outdoor running far less enjoyable. Given that and the fact that I bought myself a gym membership at the end of last year, I’ll likely be running many more treadmill miles this winter than actual road miles.


The second reason I probably won’t see this kind of increase again until next spring is because I started this project by basically running mostly streets all close to home for me. Obviously, this means as I run to streets farther from home I’ll be repeating mileage on streets I’ve already completed. That is of course unless I drive to location further from home to complete more streets while running less miles. While I may do that to complete some areas/neighborhoods, I want to try to complete as much of this project without driving at all. I’m not making this a hard rule for my project, but just want to see how far I can take it without resorting to any traveling other than running.



Scott Snell
November 7, 2019

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Every Single Street - The Beginning - Egg Harbor Township, NJ





Today I made the decision to embark on a new running goal: to #RunAllTheStreets of my hometown, Egg Harbor Township, NJ. I don't have a specific target completion date, but at the same time I don't want this to become a never ending project either. I hope to comfortably complete it before the end of 2020. I'll be using City Strides and Strava to track my progress and plan my routes. I’m currently at 1.94% complete, a small fraction, but it's a start! Now only a little over 98% to go!


I first joined City Strides a little over a month ago without any real intention of actually using it to complete the #EverySingleStreet challenge. After joining, it took a week or so for my City Strides account to sync with my Strava account. And once it did, none of my past Strava runs had synced over to my City Strides account. Only my new Strava activities were syncing over. The manager of City Strides was responsive and has assured me that my past activities would sync, but it would take some time. A month or so later without any of the past activities syncing, I decided why wait to get started on running every single street for my past runs to sync over. Why not just start at zero? So that’s what I did today.

When I first heard about Rickey Gates’ project to run every single street in San Francisco, I thought it sounded kinda cool and kinda quirky, but I didn’t really have any desire to make an attempt at doing it myself in my hometown. I prefer running trails over roads to begin with and some roads are just crap roads to run due to a total lack of shoulders and high speed traffic. So why would I even want to run every single street? That’s what I thought until I joined City Strides just on a whim to see what percentage of my hometown’s streets I had already run. When it began to seem like my past activities wouldn’t sync over any time soon, I for the most part moved on and didn’t give it much further thought. I would occasionally check to see if my past activities had synced, but it still just showed newly recorded runs. Eventually I decided to be proactive about it and just start anew, running a few new streets I knew I had never run before. 



It wasn’t until today while running a host of new streets to up that percentage that I decided I would commit to running every single street. I was running and thinking (my favorite past time) about how I have been lacking motivation to run lately. The reasons for the lack of motivation are mostly due to the changing weather, shorter daylight hours, and the fact that I’m not currently registered for any races. I thought that maybe starting in on this new running goal/project would spark a bit of a fire to get me excited about going out for runs again when I’m not specifically training for anything. And for today, it did! Hopefully I can stay excited and engaged about this project throughout the winter when I tend to cut back pretty heavily on my running mileage. And if all goes as planned, I’ll be able to say I’ve run 100% (or nearly) of the streets of Egg Harbor Township, NJ by the end of 2020!

If you’d like to follow along on my journey, follow the links below to my social media accounts and sign up for email notifications for this blog as I will be updating the status of this project across multiple platforms. Also, if you are embarking on your own #EverySingleStreet challenge I’d love to hear about it and feature you on my social media!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/beastcoasttrail
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/runscottrun/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beastcoasttrailrunning/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/snellscott
Reddit:  https://www.reddit.com/r/Strava/comments/cyfx0q/running_every_street/

Scott Snell
October 29, 2019


Saturday, October 19, 2019

2019 GAP Trail Relay - Initial Impressions



"Disclaimer: I received free entry to GAP Relay as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"

With my first ever relay formatted race behind me after the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail Relay this past weekend, my overall impression of the event and format is that it was much tougher than I anticipated. With our Bibrave team of six runners, we each ran four legs of the 24 total legs that make up the 150 mile course. Each of us ran somewhere between 20ish to 30ish miles. When looking at this plan on paper, I may have been a bit overconfident or bordering on arrogant when I thought to myself that it didn’t sound challenging at all. “Run a 50k on a rail trail in four segments with few hours rest between each segment? I could practically do that in my sleep” I thought. Later, while I was actually experiencing the event, I would learn that it wasn’t as simple or straightforward as I originally thought and a few unforeseen challenges would emerge. I would also learn just how close I could be to sleeping while running during that final leg.


Race management also went all out with the swag. Our swag bags at the start were packed with lots of great running gear and other useful items. We all got a long sleeve shirt, a Nathan flashing wearable safety light for night running, a $10 Sheetz gift card, Honey Stinger waffles, Honey Stinger gels, GU Hoppy Trails gel, body glide, Balega socks, and Nuun tabs. It was quite a haul!

At the start!
The first of several speed bumps our team hit along the way was a few unexpected roster changes. From the time of our team forming until arriving at the starting line, our team lost a few members and gained a few members. At the start of the event, two of our team of six had been original members. I get it. Life happens and this whole running thing is just for fun and entertainment. But this is an aspect of race preparation I had never had to deal with before. Up to this point, it was only me I had ever had to worry about getting to the starting line. Counting on nothing interfering in six people’s lives is a bit of a bigger ask. This is definitely a point to consider if you have never done a relay race format before and are looking to form or join a team. I wasn’t super stressed or worried at any point, but as a bit of a planner not knowing how many team members we may have at the start did bother me a bit. Although, through it all, I never had a doubt that the team we showed up with wouldn’t be able to make it to the finish.

First bridge crossing of the course!
What surprised me most about the race format and brought the majority of the challenges was the non running aspects of it. Navigating and traveling between exchange points to pick up and drop off runners was a challenge in itself. Probably more so than the running in my opinion. With a team of six runners and two vehicles we had the option to leapfrog longer stretches of the course rather than have both vehicles stop at every exchange point. But while the race was young and we were all still fresh and feeling energetic we wanted to cheer on our runners at every exchange point. If achieving our fastest time possible was our main goal, this probably was a terrible strategy. However, none of us were looking at this as a competitive event. We were all there to support one another and enjoy the experience. The extra stops and support of our teammates, although not the most efficient strategy, made the overall event more enjoyable.

Frostburg, exchange point #3.
Stopping at every exchange point made for many short chunks of recovery time outside of a vehicle. Arrive at exchange point, wait for runner, exchange runners, get to next exchange point, and repeat was our method of operation. It made for a fun day, but I found it particularly challenging to figure out how to fuel. At every stop I thought I should eat, but how much and what were tough questions to answer. I feel like I’ve honed in my nutrition for ultras for the most part, but this was a different situation. Usually for a 50k distance I’ll get by just on gels, but for a 50k spread out over about 24 hours I would need something more substantial than that. I more or less snacked on trail mix, chips, and some fruit most of the day then threw in a few peanut butter sandwiches when I felt like I had more of an appetite. The point that I felt the most hungry was when I finished my third and longest leg (an 11.5 mile stretch). Thankfully, the race organizers had hot Dominoes Pizza available at that exchange point. Seeing one of my teammates holding that pizza box after that exchange was one of the highlights of the event for me.

Only 134 miles to go to Pittsburgh! 
As the day and exchanges of the race passed by, the sun began setting on what was a perfect weather day for an all day run. I finished my second leg just as the sun was starting to set. With the sun set imminent, I both looked forward to running my final two legs of the race in the dark while at the same time wishing we could do more daylight miles. I enjoy night running with only a headlamp for light, but in early October daylight becomes more and more fleeting as the temperatures begin to drop. It’s hard to say goodbye to those last nearly perfect running weather days of the fall season offers.

We followed these train tracks for the majority of the entire course!
I first began to feel just a few pangs of weariness at dusk. It was getting to be around the normal time for me to get the kids ready for bed and my bedtime is usually shortly after. My body began reminding me of this. It didn’t get bad before or during my third leg of the race. In fact, after that third leg I was feeling pretty hyped up, only one leg left to run! But during the break between my third and fourth legs our team decided to leapfrog exchange points so we could all have more time to rest before running our final legs. Once we got to the next exchange point we had about two hours before we were expecting our runner to come in. I tried and managed to sleep for a little bit, maybe an hour but it didn’t feel like I got a good rest or was refreshed when it was time to get ready to run again. Having never slept mid race before, this was all a learning experience for me. I’ve read and heard about people running 200’s that claim they slept for 5-15 minutes and were completely refreshed. Apparently this is something I’m going to have to work on if I want to run longer races where sleep deprivation becomes an unavoidable issue because when I got up from my nap I still felt as dead tired as I did before dozing off.

After my final leg I got cleaned up a bit and got changed into some clean, dry, and comfortable clothes before making the drive to the next exchange station. I also got ahold of a cup of coffee that was offered at the exchange station I finished at. At some point during that rather short drive, unexpectedly and seemingly almost magically the sun rose and it was daylight when I arrived at the next exchange station. In my sleep deprived, fog filled brain I had lost total track of what time it was. The fact that it was light out when I arrived honestly surprised me.

Photo booth photos.
The sunrise (in addition to the Panera coffee and bagels) at this stop helped drive some of the sleepiness out of my head. The organizers of the event must have expected this exchange point (Boston, #20) to be the final leg for a good deal of runners given the facilities there. In addition to the refreshments, there was also a photo booth so runners could record how great they look after tackling roughly 127 miles of the course. Although I wasn’t aware of it until a few exchange stops later, it turned out there were even showers there. If only I had known, I may have looked a bit more fresh in my photo booth shoot with my hot dog hat!


One of the signs near the end of my second leg of the course.
As all of our team members wrapped up their final legs of the race, we finally found ourselves awaiting our final runner just a couple hundred feet from the finish line. With the finish line celebratory music well within earshot, our final runner came into view. When she reached us we all got our legs to move again and ran across the finish line as a team. The announcer was quite a hype man and got every team pumped as they crossed the finish line. After receiving our finisher medals and getting some finish line photos, we made our way over to the conveniently located after party at the Hofbrauhaus. With the beautiful South Shore Riverfront Park in view from our seating area, we were served large soft dough pretzels with cheese dipping sauce and our choice of biers: lager, hefe weizen, or dunkel. On top of it all, there was a bottomless pierogi buffet that our table ate our share of.


Finish line photo!
So, did I get what I expected from the GAP Trail Relay? I met some fellow BibRave Pros and got to run some miles with them through some beautiful areas of Pennsylvania in near perfect weather. I explored a good portion of a rail trail I had never set foot on previously. So yes, I did get everything I expected and even more: a greater challenge than I had thought I would face.



Scott Snell
October 18, 2019