Monday, November 17, 2014

Race Report: 2014 Stone Mill 50

Since finishing my first hundred miler, running has been all about just enjoying myself: no weekly schedules, no training program, no goals, only one run longer than 25 miles.  But as the Stone Mill 50 got closer, I decided to test what I had in me.  It's a great event, almost entirely on rolling single track, at the best time of the year for a day in the woods.

This year, the race was led by new race directors, and they decided to start and end the race at a local elementary high school, instead of the high school that had traditionally been used.   Brilliant! This provided more restrooms, as well as a warm place for runners to check-in, to store bags for after the race, to see old friends, and to make new ones.  (It also meant a little bit of pavement running to get to and from the trailhead, but that was no big deal.)

Saturday was the kind of day when just about everything went right.

It was 26 degrees at the beginning of the race.  I settled in toward the back of the pack, saving my energy until the train of runners spread out.  My plan was to keep things at an easy pace that I could sustain all day long, walking up hills and running the rest.  For the first 25 miles, I averaged about an 11:00 minute / mile pace.  I then sped things up a little for the three mile stretch along the towpath, knowing that my drop bag would be at the next aid station and I could take a breather while I got ready for the rest of the race.  The final 24 or so miles, went by at about 12:30 minute / mile pace.

With aid stations every five miles, I figured I could carry a single water bottle.  I love the Amphipod Hydraform.  It's a no-frills 20 ounce bottle that is comfortable to carry all day long.  I also wore an Ultraspire Quantum belt, perfect for carrying six gels and several small miscellaneous items.

While I mainly relied on gels for energy, the aid stations were a welcome respite, offering grilled cheese sandwiches, hot chicken broth, PB&Js, and other goodies.  The volunteers at Stone Mill were amazing, even by ultra-volunteer standards, and I really am thankful for their coming out on a cold day to support us runners.  Strava suggests I had about 25 minutes of stopped time, versus 31 minutes last year, so I'm getting better and getting in and out quickly.

I chose to wear North Face Ultra Guides over Drymax Maximum Protection socks.   Blisters have been my nemesis in the past, but I didn't get a single one, notwithstanding having had to submerge my feet in several (cold!) streams.  I did score a few black toenails from kicking rocks and roots, but that's OK.   The Ultra Guides (now discontinued) don't have much of a toe bumper, and I prefer that.  With a heavy bumper, I am more likely to catch my foot and end up on all fours.  The Ultra Guides have a traditional running shoe toe, and I can quickly lift my foot off of the obstacle and keep going.

North Face Isotherm pants and shirt provided the perfect mix of warmth and breathability.  Temperatures increased to 39 degrees over the course of the day, and I was never too warm or too cool.  I find a Buff is better than a traditional hat for keeping my head comfortable.

I recorded my track with a Suunto Ambit, which gave me 52.8 miles and 5,006 feet of elevation.  My final time was 10:27:20, a PR by about 30 minutes.


  1. 5,000 feet of elevation? This guy's Strava shows only 2,910. I'm curious what causes the huge discrepancy! Thanks

    1. Hmm.. this guy had 3,973

    2. Oh wait .. those 2 results were from 2013 .. but I thought the course was pretty much the same. Here's one from 2014 that's closer to your elevation - 4,377: