Sunday, May 14, 2017

Crewing Ryan at Wapack & Back

Friday afternoon we headed south to Ryan's parent's house for the night. Saturday dawned really early and really dark, with the alarm going off at 2:15 am. Even for an early bird like me, that is early ;) The trip over to Ashburnham to the start of the Wapack & Back race was uneventful and after a quick check-in, Ryan took off with the rest of the 43 and 50 milers into the woods as the sky lightened, just after 5:00 am, with little fanfare and a Yeti howl.


Ryan was doing the bulk of the work for the day, for sure, as I knew from running the one-way version back in 2015, that this range, while beautiful, is no joke, but I knew I was in for a long day too. Crewing is tough work ;) Thankfully, Ryan put together a great direction and crew stop sheet for me, which made it much easier!

I had a bit of time to kill before meeting up with Ryan at the mile 9 aid station, so I went into Petersborough and got gas for the car and coffee and a donut for myself. Then it was off to classic crew routine of hurry up and wait ;) I got out and chatted with the aid station team, cheered on runners as they went through and right on time, at a few minutes before 7:00 am, Ryan came through, looking nice and relaxed. After a quick swap of trash for new gels and a few words about the course, he was off.

With that I made my way to the turn-around point at mile 21.5, which is the starting point for the one-way race. As it was around 7:30 am, the lot was empty and I quickly changed into my running gear and took off up the trail. I had done a bit of online searching and it looked like I could get in a nice loop up over North Pack and down with a short return via the road. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't get back in time to meet Ryan - he had predicted a 10:00 am check-in at this spot but he was moving so well at mile 9 and I wanted to get back in plenty of time in case he arrived early. In any event, it was a 1.5 mile stiff climb up to the top of North Pack via the Wapack Trail, portions of which I remembered from 2015, through the woods and up steep rocky ledges to the large cairn at the summit, of which I have no recollection at all!


Follow the yellow triangles

View climbing up 

North Pack summit

Summit view, a bit clouded over

From there I headed out on the Cliff Trail for a short ways before taking the turn onto Carolyn's Trail. From what I found online, Carolyn's trail was a good one to descend back to the road and after the initial section of steep ledges, the rest of the trail wound through the woods very nicely, the trail pine needle covered, cushiony goodness. The woods were quiet and it was quite lovely. I really enjoyed it!

Cliff Trail

View from the higher ledges along Carolyn's Trail

Red eft spotted down in a marshy section of trail


Painted Trillium

The final 1.5 mile leg of the loop was back up Mountain Road, which was really darn steep! Ended up with a nice 5.3 mile loop, and enjoyed getting out into the hills! Lots of fun and glad to get a short run in between crewing duties! Aside from the red eft, no wildlife was seen, but the forest floor was awash with false lily of the valley, goldthread, wild oats, indian cucumber, hobblebush, some blue bead lilies emerging and a few trillium down below.

The run

I ended up getting back in time to chat for a few minutes with Brian and Adam before the 21 miler started, and then was able to change and chat with the aid station volunteers while standing around in the cold, damp morning before Ryan came in, right as predicted at 10:00 am :) He was looking strong and was all smiles.

Coming into mile 21

All smiles

From there, I headed over to Miller State Park and took a short walk on the trail while I waited. It was cold just hanging around, so a bit of movement was nice. Lots of blooming hobblebush and wild oats here!


Indian wild cucumber

Ryan came through mile 27 at 11:35 after a hard stretch of trail up and over North Pack and Pack. Feeling a bit rougher but still moving well.

I decided this was the time to head back into Petersborough and get some lunch, so I retraced my steps and stopped and had a Subway sandwich, Facetimed with Sam for a bit and then headed back to Windblown for the mile 34 stop.

Ryan came in at 1:09, having made up some time in the last 7 miles and moved ahead of his fastest predicted arrival for this spot. Although he said he wasn't feel great, he was still moving well.

My Facebook status from this check-in went like this:

34 miles in and feeling it a bit.
I say, hey, you're doing great, still ahead of your fastest projected time to here.
He says, so there's still time for the shit to hit the fan.
See what I have to deal with here?!? 😂😂

Mile 34

From there, it was back to the finish. Crewing is a whole lot of waiting around and I was getting a little antsy ;) I paced back and forth on the trail quite a few times, looking at the wildflowers and chatting with other runners and the volunteers. Ryan came through for mile 43 at 3:40 and although he said he was trashed, he went right over to Jesse and asked if he could head back out for the final 7 mile out and back stretch to get the full 50. Crazy ultrarunner for sure! ;)

Coming in to mile 43

As Ryan took off for his final miles, more walking and chatting ensued for me, along with yet another snack :)

Wild oat

And then, 12 hours and 21 minutes later, he finished :) With enough energy for a jump at the finishing gate! :)

Finish line jump

Yah running!

50 mile finisher

After the inevitable clothes changing struggle after a long race, we headed out, stopped for some pizza and arrived back at Irene and Dana's at 8:00 pm. It had been a long day. 

Many thanks to Irene and Dana for hanging out with Sam for the day, especially since she was up at 6:30 am! We are lucky to have such good parents/grandparents to help us out as we go off and do these crazy things!

Very proud of Ryan for running a strong 50 on a really tough, technical course. The Wapack range is no joke, although it is certainly a beautiful area. Cheers to an excellent effort and a good stepping stone in the VT 100 journey! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love Sam's drawing of you! Yay for Ryan!!! A bit crazy, but yay!