Escarpment Trail Run
By Carol Kane
"Do to a stroke of bad luck, your entry into the Escarpment Trail Run has been accepted." A portentous salutation for the 200 accepted entrants into the 26th running of this, the Eastern Escarpment of the Catskill Mountains. Starting at Windham, NY, the 30k point to point course climbs 6 mountain peaks and ends at North Lake. The views from the peaks on a clear day, is spectacular, but who is looking at the scenery.
Solemn role call is taken before the start, just in case you go and run off the Escarpment. They'll want to know who's missing. Strict qualifying standards make sure that one is "prepared" for this race. Bandits are shot on sight. At the aid stations, runners who are viewed as "troubled" are requested to withdraw.
Race Director, Dick Vincent says of the run, "This is Fell Running" at it's best....I think it is "fall running" at it's best. Billed as one of the top 15 trail races in the country, this is tough tough running, with slippery rocks, roots, boulder scrambling on all fours, hand over hand climbs, and chilling ascents that will have your heart pounding out of your chest. Some people tape their hands in preparation for the climbs and ascents. By the finish, feet are badly chewn up by the terrain. This year almost everyone that crossed the line wore some blood. Falls are taken in stride. Two bad stretches of ground bee's nests would have everyone yelling "Bees!! Pass it back!" A definite incentive to pick up the pace.
This was my 4th running of the Escarpment, a yearly birthday present to myself. Two more years, if I'm lucky, I'll earn the "100 mile Shirt." This year was a good run...only 2 bee stings, one shin hematoma, and a bruised and bloody knee. It is possible to do this run without a fall, but don't count on it. And if you do fall, pick yourself up and keep going.... it takes a while for help to reach you.
Speaking of help, who else would you expect to find out on the Escarpment Trail, as usual, passionately dedicated to the sport and helping out fellow runners? The "Wolfpit Running Club Aid Station" trio of Rick Favier, Jim Gerweck, and John Dugdale. These guys had to carry tons of water on their backs, while hiking in to the aid station they manned for the damp, foggy, chilly day. It sure was good to see them and feel their encouragement. People that work the aid stations are like angels in the clouds. Balloon lined trails mark the approach of an aid station, but you hear the screams and cheers long before. This demanding race is so personally isolating, yet has such a community feeling. Long time volunteers, some former Escarpment runners themselves, like Rick and John know this, and they LOVE being involved. It's easy to thank them and appreciate what they do. They mean a lot out there.
The fastest runners will come in from 2:50 on, and the slowest runners will take more than 6 hours. But no matter your time, finishing this run is an accomplishment in itself. If you don't kill yourself, you'll be hooked.
A couple of quotes from the trail....
"What am I doing here?"
"I thought I was a good downhill runner before this."
Can't wait till next year....
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