At some point a little over a year ago I learned of the Adirondack Great Range Traverse while looking up potential steep run training while on an extended family vacation at my parents' lake house in the Adirondacks. In complete ignorance I decided to give it a try a week after Speedgoat 50k. For some reason I took only 20oz of water, no food and wore new shoes. As you might guess everything went south pretty badly... at around the 3 hour mark. The nature of the trail as anyone who has done it is steep terrain both up and down. There is a mix of wooded (i.e. rooted) terrain, then nice slabs and heinous mini boulders especially toward the Marcy end of the route. I ended up limping in to the Garden trailhead in 8hrs finding Dominique very relieved after I totally blew my time estimates.
Flash forward a year, and another trip to see my family I was committed to redeeming myself on this route. I noticed that the FKT had just been dropped to 5:49 by one of the then two record holders (5:56) in June. After some big vert days 10-13k ft and a 42k ft week in my legs from recent training, I checked the splits, the VAMs and even did a mini taper coming to NY (though I think I always "taper" when I'm at the lake). I had convinced myself that maybe the FKT was in reach if I could hold it together on the final descent.
On Saturday August 8, 2015 I set off from the Rooster Comb TH just before 7:30am. The temperatures were right around 50F a nice contrast to current UT weather. Within the first few minutes I had convinced myself I felt good! I tried to keep the reins in check, but ultimately I arrived at Rooster Comb faster than intended (28:58) running every step. My MO is definitely to start too fast, but I also knew the early sustained climbs were my best terrain. The next long section through Hedgehog and then Lower Wolfjaw (LW) really suited my style -- mostly steep hiking. I was a bit torn between the tradeoffs of starting fast. But when I hit the LW split 1:17:50 I gained confidence that I wouldn't lose time with my restrained pace and decided to settle in until Gothics before digging deep.
Upper Wolfjaw (1:40:49), Armstrong (1:54:29) and Gothics (2:08:16) came and went in an awesome state of flow. The descent off Gothics is beautifully steep slab and the first taste of alpine in comparison to the earlier peaks and what is to come. At this point I was really soaking it in and realizing the potential for a great day. As promised, I told myself I'd turn the discomfort up for Saddleback (2:27:47) and then Basin (2:47:14).
Low clouds had surrounded me all morning and kept me cool, though the unfamiliar humidity made me very damp from sweat. I had drank less than I anticipated. With one of two bottles empty I was happy to conserve some liquid calories when I arrived at the small creek between Basin and Haystack. I quickly sucked back 20oz or more with my lifestraw, ate some calories and took off again feeling able to push the climb. The turn for Haystack came much quicker than anticipated and only buoyed my mood. Once onto the slabs below the summit I started to dig just a bit more. I hit the summit of Haystack in 3:24:14.
The descent off Haystack and climb up Marcy went equally well, still feeling able to push albeit a touch more labored. I tried not to look at my watch until I hit the summit and when it read 4:05:35 I knew the FKT was mine to lose. Descending that terrain isn't in my typical running program and 9mi of washed out, bouldery creek-bed-like trail was a bit daunting. I tried to go smooth and controlled, but I felt the time leaking out with every step. Eventually the trail eased and while still littered with roots and rocks it was much more runnable. I passed the Johns Brook Lodge at 5:15:18 feeling relieved that the FKT was still in reach but also completely aware of the time hemorrhaged. I pushed the last 3mi as best I could and arrived to meet Dominique at the Garden in 5:44:21 and much better circumstances than last year!
Movescount GPS: http://www.movescount.com/moves/move72099143
Strava Details: https://www.strava.com/activities/364488662/overview