After having issues with autocorrect on my phone sending us about 20 minutes out of the way, I arrived at the south mountain of Mountain Creek about 15 minutes before the event began. I checked in, got my number on, and listened to the race director, Rick McNulty give his pre race instructions. Rick and his wife Jennifer, as alway put on a great event. Check them out at NJTrailSeries.com. They do events of all distances throughout the year.
Before going any further, I have to thank my support staff and personal audience. I definitely had more support than any other runner there. Maura and the kids, my parents (Ron and Nan), as well as Terence, Joanne and their kids, were all there cheering and giving me drinks, etc.
The picture on the right shows the beginning of the race. This is only the first hill of many. In regards to the severity of the various climbs, this one is probably about a 4 out of 10 in distance and about a 5 of 10 incline wise. Both scores using a 10 as most difficult and 1 as least difficult. There is 1100 feet of climb on each full loop. There are several climbs that are much steeper, with one about 75 meters in length that is almost too steep not to use your hands on the ground ahead. There were 2 climbs that are a 7-8 on the Richter scale that are over a quarter mile in length.
The weather was great, it never really got too hot or to a point that heat was ever really a factor. There was a nice breeze, especially at the top.
It was insane how fast I was taken right back to where I was last year pain wise. This year however, I knew what to expect and was simply in much better shape. My only issue came during the 4th full loop when my left quad was cramping/spasming during the toughest climb on the mountain. As a whole, the loops went easier and I did feel much stronger throughout the race. The downhills, although painful, are much better for me. I passed a lot of people on the downhills, as there were people doing multiple races at the same time. For the second year in a row, not one person even came close to catching me on the downhill, let alone pass me. I finished my last loop on the short course with only 5-6 minutes left, so I knew I could not get another loop in. The short loop was only a half mile in length, but it was a steep uphill until it joined the big loop to come down. It was pretty brutal.
Overall, I couldn't be happier, except if I was on the podium :)
I will post a video that Maura took and my loop splits when they are available on the website.