Thursday, July 30, 2020

Manistee River Trail Party

While in northern Michigan, I decided to check out the "Manistee River Trail Loop" I've heard so much about. It includes a section of the North Country Trail, along with some scenic bluffs, solid climbs and beautiful views of the river. I was joined by Zach Sayre, Jonathan Alsip and Chaz Hornburg (who holds the FKT on this route).

Monday, July 20, 2020

Polly Ann Trail FKT

The Polly Ann Trail is a 37 mile trail stretching from Lake Orion in Oakland County to North Branch in Lapeer County. I attempted an "unsupported" FKT, meaning I would have to carry all of my nutrition and water because there were no viable water sources along the trail. I set off around 7am, carrying 48oz of fluid and 860 calories. The first 28 miles went very well, but the last 9 miles were like eating glass. I made the fatal mistake of failing to respect the trail. I thought, "I've ran further, I've ran more difficult trails, and I've ran in hotter conditions." But every ultra is difficult and challenging in its own way, and this trail was no different.

The first 20 miles or so were on very well groomed trails and even some pavement, which allowed me to make some good time. I passed the marathon mark in 3:15, putting me on pace to hit my goal time. However, apparently around the 28 mile mark I made a wrong turn because the trail abruptly disappeared. I checked the gps map on my watch and had to run through the woods to get back on track, crossing
two streams in the process.

I was feeling a bit defeated because I was now behind the goal pace I had set for myself, when I began the most challenging part of the trail. The last 8 miles or so consisted of unmowed and seemingly rarely traveled paths adjacent to farm fields. The grass and weeds were knee-high in most
places and there was little shade. The foliage made every step I took feel like a thousand tiny hands grabbing at my ankles and my pace slowed significantly. I ran out of water and the temperature rose to the mid-90's as the final stretch became a death march. I slowly made my way to the finish and the welcome sight of my wife with a cooler full of water and snacks, finishing in 5:11:22.