I feel like all my races lately have been on the trails – in preparation for the Dirty German 50K of course! Uberendurancesports puts on a ton of great trail races in the PA area and the Naked Bavarian (part of the “Naked” Series of winter low-swag races) did not disappoint. So far, I’ve loved these races! This race, like the Naked Nick, was held at Blue Marsh Lake on March 3rd, 2019.
And of course, it decided to snow all night on March 2nd and continued in to the morning on March 3rd. I love races where you get a warning email about it “still being on” the night before! It’s both relieving and a little stressful at the same time.
I prepped as much as I could the night before since it’s about a 1.5 hour drive for me and the race started at 8AM. I packed snacks, my Flip belt, trail shoes, many layers, and a change of clothes. I decided to bring my snow spikes, too, just in case.
I woke up on Saturday morning ready to go. I ate breakfast, made coffee, and headed out the door just in time. The drive up was fine – low traffic morning, but it was getting more snowy as I headed north west into Pennsylvania. What the heck were these trails gonna be like?
But once I drove in to the state park, it like a calm washed over me. Nostalgia took me back to one of those perfect snow days as a kid where the snow is still pretty and serene, and you just feel the calling to go outside in it all day. So I decided to frame this race as me playing in the snow for the next 20 miles. It made it all much more exciting!
I picked up my bib and had just enough time to get a little warm up in. I saw people in shorts and tee shirts with 5 inches of snow on the ground. And as I’ reminded at every start line: these ultra runners are hardcore. The race director came on the microphone and said the trails should be fine. But we all knew to expect nothing and be prepared for anything. It was still snowing a bit, but slowing down, and the race began.
We started the race on slushy pavement, but quickly got into the woods. Everyone was happy that the snow was still soft, because it was packing down nicely. All the fast runners ahead of me had creating a beautifully packed trail. It was gonna be a great run!
Then came the first downhill and everyone realized that the packed down snow was a little icy, and there were a few spills and slips along the way. Uh oh — how much of the course would be like this?
The first few climbs and descents were reaallyyy slow because of this. I realized I had packed my ice spikes, but didn’t think I’d need to put them on. I was wrong! The people in YakTraks and other similar snow gear were brilliant. Some people even had trekking poles. I felt like an unprepared newbie, waddling along in the slippery snow. My trail shoes definitely worked, but I could have been more prepared. I fell a couple of times, but luckily there was snow underneath me to break my fall. A couple of people joked about wishing for sleds for the downhills. I laughed and agreed.
After a few miles everyone knew to walk and be careful going up or down, and luckily the the flat sections were phenomenal along the way. No mud, no branches, no dirt – just perfectly packed snow. I kept
finding people to pace with, and then eventually gaining the energy to pass them. I felt like I was flying through a lot of the time. I had tons of energy and was just enjoying the beautiful scenery.
About 1/2 of the way through the race, we got to an aid station. It seemed like any regular old aid station at an uberendurance trail race — freshcooked bacon, candy, salted potatoes, pickles — but this one was different. I heard “IPA or Black and Tan?” and looked up and saw beer! I once again remembered why I LOVE the trail running community 🙂 I chose not to drink (because alcohol + ice is a bad idea, right?) but on a hot dry day, I’d take a Founder’s All Day!
The guys running this aid station also warned me of the massive climbs and slippery trails ahead. I went in to the second half more cautious, but luckily once it started to warm up, the snow was a little less slippery (but the trails got a little more muddy). It was actually better for gripping the ground, but you did still need to be careful. There was a lot of slow climbing (20+ minute mile pace!) and cautiously slow downhills. Luckily it flattened out again and since it was a “lollipop” course, we were back on the same route we came in on. I knew it’d be (relatively) smooth sailing from there.
I started to notice how comfortable I felt on the trails. I could see how the more you run on them, the better and easier they get. I loved that I was getting stronger on this tougher terrain. The whole race felt like a huge confidence boost for me, and I was having a great time!
However, just like with every trail race, I got to the last 2-ish miles and just couldn’t wait to be back at the Finish line. The 40M were starting to come back and we cheered each other on in either direction. It was great to see more people, pass more of the runners, and just charge to the finish line. I knew there was hot soup waiting for me in about 20 minutes, and I just kept pushing.
Finally we got to the end and saw newly built snowmen greeting us at the finish line. I’m sure everyone waiting out there for their friends and family for 4.5 hours had plenty of time to kill! I poured some hot, steamy soup in to my new mug and chatted with a few other finishers before heading back to my car, changing out of my sweaty snowy clothes, and driving the 1.5 hours home.
Once I got back, I was exhausted! I had a huge meal, watched Netflix for the rest of the day, and went to bed around 8PM. I was nervous to see how my legs would feel on Sunday.
I woke up with a sigh of relief – they were okay! Especially once I started moving. I walked my dog and spectated a race to see my mom and my friends from Burlington Running Club complete the Grilled Cheese Tomato Soup 4 Miler. I walked around and stretched while they ran, and thoroughly enjoyed NOT running a race. I thought about running that afternoon, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to wait until Monday 🙂