Somewhere in the “course” of trail running history, was there not afforded some adage about the irrational mindset of those drawn to the insanity known as fell running? Or maybe it’s always been considered perfectly normal to receive immeasurable satisfaction from such frenetic trail runs that bring forth the temerity in even the most prudent and mild-mannered runner.
Whatever the truth may be, what is not to be contested are the audacious steps (and slips and falls and everything in between) Beth Auman and Susannah Grosso took this past weekend in their now-proven successful attempt to conquer Catskill Mountain’s Escarpment Trail Run.
Now in its 33rd year, this no-frills, “Boston Marathon of trail runs” 30K is, as race director and founder Dick Vincent explains, “for mountain goats only.” (I should add to this, “civilized” mountain goats who see nothing wrong with a race starting at the much reasonable time of 9 a.m.!)
With an elevation change of over 10,000 feet, the single-track trail is adorned with all of mother nature’s finest treats…slippery boulders of varying sizes, rocks, exposed roots, downed trees, gullies, a cliff or two overlooking the Catskills, and lots and lots of mud and puddles (runners ran the entire distance with soaked feet).
With rainfall hammering the area in the days leading up to the race, the trail conditions were considered by many of Escarpment’s old timers to be the slowest, making this year’s run the most difficult. Luckily the hostile environment did not wreak havoc on Beth and Susannah, who both came in strong to the finish line virtually injury free (Susannah took a spill earlier on in the race that landed her right on her coccyx, but, as the runner behind her remarked, “that’s your only fall for the race. Be glad that’s done and over with!”).
There are quite a few well-written articles concerning the course in its entirety posted on Escarpment’s Web site so, for the sake of avoiding redundancy, I can only lend forth this sententious little tidbit: Those who put serious consideration into Escarpment must come prepared to be tested in every form imaginable. Once you survive, however, you can well-attest to the exhilarating, visceral experience that helps build the mettle of the much-envied trail runner. And if you get a scrape or two, even better.
Final results (out of 185 finishers):
Susannah Grosso 4:28:11 (53rd)
Beth Auman: 5:22:53 (118th)
Runners gather near start of the race.
Beth and Susannah pre-race.
Plane wreckage cresting the course’s final uphill.
Hazy view of Catskills.
Susannah’s legs and feet post-race.