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.
|50 Mile Elevation Profile|
|Hourly weather data|
|An example of how some of the ATV trails looked|
|View from the pond edge|
|View from overlook|
I headed back out with RP for our second lap with the plan to try to push this lap a little harder than the first. I figured if I was going to meet my goal I didn’t want to have to make up time on my final lap during the hottest part of the day. I realized after a few miles that RP wasn’t with me anymore. We had chatted during the first lap about running together and splitting up. We even joked about whether we would hold hands at the finish as we shared first place. We knew what each other’s goals were so I wasn’t completely surprised to find myself alone. During the remainder of this lap the heat continued wear on me. Although the dew was long gone, I was still drenched from a steady flow of sweat. I almost stopped at the creek crossing during this lap to dunk my head and cool off, but I knew the water aid station was just ahead and somewhat reluctantly passed on the opportunity. I finished up my second lap and checked into the start/finish area at about 3:50, even further behind my target time after trying to push myself harder during that second lap to make up the couple minutes that I needed. It was at this point that I started doubting the feasibility of making my goal of a sub 9 hour finish.
|Map of the dam crossing|
|Trail following the creek to the dam crossing|
January 3, 2017