Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Promise Land 50K 2009 Race Report

As I was driving to Promise Land Friday afternoon I pondered how far I had come in a short period of time. One year prior I had only one ultra under my belt (2008 Holiday Lake) and was really wondering if I would be able to make the cutoff time and finish. The elevation profile had scared me and I had contemplated not running the race for fear of failure. Now I was not thinking about finishing, but how much time I could shave off last years time. My only concern was the weather forecast, HOT HOT and more HOT.

I pulled into the camp around six and set up my tent at the bottom of the field by the stream. What a great spot to camp. I went to check in, got some pizza, and talked to some friends that I have not seen since past races. After the pre-race brief I crawled into my tent, made final preparations for the morning, set my alarm, and was off to sleep. I slept pretty well and was up before the alarm went off at 4:40. I walked to the start while eating pop tarts and drinking mountain dew, ready for this adventure to begin.

We sang the national anthem and were off. I forgot how steep the road section was and after a mile or so was walking with a pack of runners. As we reached the first aid station and hit the trail I was warmed up and ready to go. I remember running a great deal more of this section than last year. I hit the turn at the top of the mountain in 1:06 and was off down the hill. I ran pretty hard on this section, including running some of the moderate hills. I heard the water rushing below and knew that I was near needed aid. I had only brought one bottle on the course and wished I had two as I found the bottle dry numerous times during the day.

The climb up Apple Orchard Mountain was pretty uneventful. I talked to a gentleman from Michigan about races in the mid west. At the top I found out that I am a slow downhill runner. All the people around me opened up a large gap running down the road. I could also see people behind me closing the gap. The trend of being passed on the downs and passing on the ups continued throughout the day.

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The next section of the race is rocky single track. It was made difficult by the loose softball size boulders littering the trail. I managed to only lose a little ground to the faster down hill runners. I stopped at one point to clean out my shoes. They were full of rocks from the road at the beginning of the race. At the second river crossing a lady fell in up to here knees as she tried to cross on some large boulders on the downstream side of the crossing. Then it happened, the road section that I hate! I ran down it and finally made it back onto the trail. After a short section I had come frozen lemonade and was off again.

After a little more road I was back onto the grassy surface. I ran over the rolling hills and finally down the hill to the aid station. It was time to climb. The sign said 3 miles, but I believe it is more like 3.5 to 4 miles up. I climbed hard and was really focused for this part of the race. I passed a few people and saw some runners sitting along the trail who were clearly suffering. I dipped my head and back into the cool water and felt like a new man. After the climb I knew I was almost done.

I pushed hard down the hills towards the finish. The road was as brutal as last year and I suffered my way down it. I forced myself to run down as the sun heated up the earth. It was hot, but I knew I was almost done. As I hit the one mile stripe I pushed a little harder and finally made the right turn into camp and sprinted down the hill to the finish. Another Ultra in the books.

This was a great race and I really enjoyed it. Promise Land is a great event and I recommend it to any runner. I want to thank Dr. Horton for putting on the race, all the volunteers for their hard work, and David's family for cooking up all that good food at the end of the race. Hamburgers and fruit never tasted so good! This race has a special place in my heart and surely I will be back to test my physical and mental ability against those mountains for many years to come.

Oh, in the end the climb up Apple Orchard Falls was not that bad, and I beat last years time by 51 minutes. Hopefully I can knock another 51 off next year.


  1. nice job! heck of a PR! You make my half marathons sound like cake!

  2. [...] This review was updated on April 30 to reflect my experience with the Hardrock at the Promise Land 50K . [...]