Sunday April 18th - Muddy Moose 14 Miler - 2:58:42
Sunday April 25th - Mud Muck Moose 5 Miler - 48:XX?
"I bet you could run the 14." Like any good ideas it was spawned over many-a-beer. Dustin, Heather, Loni, Leah and I on a Saturday night. Pre-gaming, so-to-speak, for the 11th Annual Muddy Moose Trail run. It had been raining for almost 3 days straight. I was PUMPED for this years run. Last years course was pretty dry and people were talking about the mud, i was excited to see how trashed the course was this time around. We were able to catch up with Grant who we hadn't run with since the Pisgah 50k a few years back.
We shoot the breeze for the first mile of the course before it turns onto the snowmobile trail. You can hear people screaming around the upcoming corner as we hit the first of the mud. Everyone backs up and starts single filing around the edges of the mud. In years past i would have followed suit. Normally by mile 10, people would be giving me crap because I've barely got a spot of mud on me. For some reason this year was different. I plowed straight through, my feet sloping shin deep on my first step. I laugh and look behind me at Grant and say, "well friend, it's going to be a long 13.75 miles." By the time we get to the 2 mile water stop, the turn around for the 4 milers, we're soaked. I chat with the RD for a bit as Dustin, then Leah, come up the hill and make the turn back toward the school. Heather comes up the hill and says, well lets go. She was going to do it. The full 14! Grant and I look at one another and go "well alright!" and we all trot off down the road.
After climbing up the escarpment Heather is a little hesitant on what else she has to expect in front of her. I joke and tell her that if she's going to hike the LT this summer, this should be a cakewalk! She agrees and pushes on, relatively unscathed by the steep climb. The mud was sloppy, the water was deep, and the sun was out. It couldn't have been a better day. I joke to Grant and Heather about how deep the Beaver Pond is going to be and i was NOT disapointed. It was mid thigh deep going straight through the middle. Heather calls out "really josh? really?" and i laugh and respond, "yep, straight on through."
After we finish up the beaver pond loop and on the climb back to the Escarpment there is always a huge deep puddle. This is the puddle that Sherpa went into last year and ruined his camera. The two volunteers directing runners had encouraged me to go straight through on the way out. And i promised i would on the way back. So of course, i plunged in. Knee deep, a few more steps, mid thigh deep, a few more steps. Holy balls it's waist deep! They are hoopin' and hollarin' and i laugh and start running in the now waist deep water causing splashes everywhere. What a rush. I'm glad they conned me into it.
With 2 miles to go Grant gets that spark in his eye and is off like a flash. I stick back with Heather who's finally hitting her wall. I was quite impressed. For someone who hadn't trained for this in the least, and for never running further than seven miles it took until around 12.5 for her to finally start to come unglued. As she treks along at her own pace i go into child mode and run from puddle to puddle splashing the water and mud as high as i could make it. Another volunteer spots me in advance and encourages me with a "YEAHHHH!" I couldn't have been happier. With a few more turns to go Heather picks up the pace ever so slightly. A voice in the back of my mind starts going. Oh man, she's going to sprint the end of this out isn't she. Crap. Luckily for me, she had just the right amount of gas and we were able to trot across the line together.
After congratulations all around i hear, "Loni's still out there." So of course i go, "well ok then, back in a bit." And headed back into the woods to track her down. Luckily for me she was only a mile or so back and i was able to run the rest of her first Muddy Moose 14 as well.
The Mud Muck Moose is Held on the Bear Mountain X-country trails up in Bartlett NH. It's another low key, low cost, low frill race that's put on by the White Mountain Milers. I had witnessed how crazy this race was a few year ago when I watched Loni run in it. That year there had still been 6"+ of snow on the ground and the river crossings were at least waist deep. Sadly this year, with the warmth, there was non of that.
Loni and I scoped out one of the crossings before the start of the race and it hardly seemed deep at all. Mid calf deep at most, yet there was still ropes crossing. That seems pointless i thought. Even though during the run half of the people seemed to use the ropes. It gave me plenty of opportunity to fly past them by just charging through the cold refreshing water. I think i passed at least 6 people in the streams all together. I felt like i had gone out WAY to fast on the first lap but with some smart placed ultra-style climbing in the steep sections i was able to pull away from the runners around me and reel in the runners that had been eluding me up to that point.
There really wasn't too much to report on the race. The course was a cross country ski trail so it was pretty wide most of the way through, with a few short sections of single track. What i learned from the run is that when i run with wild abandon i'm a much stronger then i think. I was running along a guy that was easily a superior runner then I. It was proven by his ability to pull away from me whenever we got to sections of gravel double track. What he didn't have was the downhill muddy, rooty, single-track speed i did. So i used that to my advantage and took off with a couple of miles to go and never saw the guy again. I totally destroyed my estimate on time which i think i put down 54 minutes and change. But six minutes in the favorable way. I was very happy with my time, grabbed some water and headed back out and then ran the last 3/4 of a mile in with Loni.