Sunday, April 3, 2011

Eno River Run and Umstead 100

4/2 run 72 mins Pea Creek Trail, Cole Mill Trail, Bobbitt's Hole Trail and Dunnagan's Trail @ Eno River State Park in New Balance MT101 with Superfeet Green

HR avg 154 max 170

Being a proud resident of Durham, I'm always on the lookout for good running trails that are closer to home.  I had looked at trail maps for Eno River before and I was always put off by the short distances of the trails and their interconnected design.  I'm used to planning each run around a single trail.  On paper, it seems like an easy way to get lost on a run and I admit it could be challenging to track your distance and pace without a gps device.

Seeing as how I'm psycho enough to run with two gps devices, this is not a problem!  The +1 slapped me around that morning, as we had to be out the door bright and early in order to make our date with Umstead in the afternoon (that's right we were two-timing her!).  We arrived with plenty of time and there was ample parking with only a few cars to be seen at 10:30AM.

My first run on a trail, I always find myself missing out on the scenery and the actual trail, as I worry about my footing and following the trail markers.  Even with those distractions, I couldn't help but marvel at the beauty of this park.  Our path was sort of an out and back loop along 4 trails that follow the edge of the Eno River.  We followed Pea Creek Trail to Cole Mill Trail and Bobbitt's Hole Trail and back to Pea Creek Trail which crosses the parking area to Dunnagan's Trail.  The arrow you see in the second screenshot below is for the Pea Creek Trail label.  You can also see the start/stop break in my gps capture at the Parking area off of Cole Mill Road.

Timex GPS data from Google Maps
Eno River State Park Map
The trails follow the bank of the Eno River with some very technical off camber single track in many places, then they loop into the woods for some moderate climbs.  The range of scenery from the flowing river to fields of tall grass and ancient hardwoods is magnificent.  The sound of the trees in the wind was even slightly spooky at times.  I'm already planning to do my last pre-race run here on Thursday.  I promise to bring a camera and I can't wait to checkout the western trails, as several of those are listed as "strenuous," but not until after next weekend.

Later that day we headed over to Umstead 100 Aid Station #2, which is called Tom's Tavern to put in 4 hours gawking at the folks crazy enough to run 100 miles.  The +1 had originally signed up to run the 50 option, but had dropped out due to her piriformis issues.  When we first arrived it felt like a too many cooks in the kitchen situation, as they had an abundance of volunteers at that time, but within a few minutes it thinned out and we took up residence at the main table when you enter the tent.  To our left was the cooking area and to our right were the other food tables and drop bag area.  I spent most of my time cutting baked potatoes, orange slices, cantaloupe and bananas, while the wife made sandwiches and relayed the soup and hot food orders to the kitchen.  It was a great learning experience for me and really interesting to see what people want to eat when they stop by after around 40-50 miles of running.  As you can tell by what we spent our time doing, baked potatoes dipped in salt, orange slices and turkey sandwiches were very popular.  The potato and later, chicken and rice soup also grew in popularity as dinner time approached.  Not that I would ever consider running 50 or even 100 miles in 30 hours, but it was great to see what kinds of gluten free options I would have available, as most of what was offered I couldn't eat.  The top two requested items were gels and fresh legs, of which we had none.  I did see one guy in Vibran KSO treks with rainbow Injinjis and another in New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus.  I was surprised by the number of Newtons I saw and most people had gaiters.  There also seemed to be a lot "lucky t-shirts" either that or there was a rogue mountain lion on the course attacking participants and shredding their t-shirts.  One of my friends normally works this station overnight and he says it's a totally different experience as many runners dropout at that point and those who continue are in rough shape.  I can't imagine the accumulation of mental and physical stress on a person after 50+ miles combined with the plummeting temperature and added difficulties of night running.  I am inspired by all those I saw and I was especially impressed by the few Clydesdales :-)

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