"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Phunt You

Last January I sat at my computer in my warm house watching pictures come in from many friends running an epic race taking place in 6 inches of fresh snow, sub-zero temperatures just over the border in Maryland. Of course right away I had two thoughts. Why didn't I know about this race? I want to do it next year. Welcome to Phunt 50K 2015!

Phunt 50K is a masterpiece of the Trail Dawgs Running club, that takes place in Fair Hills Nature Preserve in Elkton, MD. While the Phunt went through several iterations over the years, this year's event was to be run on a 25K loop. The course is a combination of gentle rolling hills, some short steep climbs, some open fields, and 95% single track. Any other time of year this would be a fast, easy runnable course by trail standards, but when you put on a race in January, it is anything but that. While we didn't have a pleasure of fresh snow, this year's Phunt welcomed us with temperatures in the 30s, cold rain through the day, and of course mud and slop.

Before the race.
Amy and I were both watching the weather as Phunt approached. It kept changing from major rain, to no rain, to finally flip the night before to rain during most of the event. I'll be honest and tell you right away that I was not looking forward to it. I was sick leading up to the Phunt, didn't have much training since the Rocky 50K, and did not feel in that great of a shape with my lungs filled with phlegm. Oh yeah, and I didn't really feel like running in the cold rain. On a positive note, my legs were feeling pretty rested. We drove down to Maryland on Saturday morning ready to go. The starting venue couldn't have been better for a winter race. Heated hall filled with runners welcomed us as we entered to pick up our personalized bibs. Quickly we found a spot for all our gear, and went off for usual potty breaks and some socializing with fellow runners.
Y'all ready to go?
Shortly before 9am, our hilarious RD Carl announced that it was time to head to the start and to follow him. He led us around the building only to come back to the front of it!! Funny guy that Carl. After a brief intro we were off. Going into this race Amy and I were treating this as a fun run with friends rather than a competitive race. Considering our sickness going into the race, that was really the only option anyway. After a short (.5 mile) stretch of road and gravel we jumped onto some sweet single track through the woods. Ground was frozen, and rain was not supposed to start for another couple hours. The first loop was going great. While I didn't feel amazing, I wasn't feeling half bad either. I was dreading the rain to come. Amy started falling a bit behind me. By the time we reached the 2nd aid station she was no where to be seen so I just went on alone. There were 4-5 aid stations on the course and each one was great. Volunteers running them were just amazing, and the offering was spectacular.
And we are off!
Sure enough, the rain came right on time and that is when things started getting really interesting. I definitely slowed down by the end of the first loop and was even thinking about stopping and just getting my pint glass and enjoying some beer. However, I got this weird surge of energy before I reached the half way point, and said, Screw it, I am doing it. I started my second lap with a smile and took off into the woods. By this time it has been raining on and off for few hours and trails were starting to get sloppy. Reaching each aid station was milestone that brought me closer to the finish line. I wasn't feeling half bad, other than my fingers that were freezing from now soaking wet gloves. I need to rethink my glove strategy for cold rainy runs. While certain parts of the trail were in ok condition, downhills were becoming very slippery, and several rocky bridges have iced over. At first I was thinking that my shoes sucked on wet rocks, but after I came to realize that it was in fact ice. I can be such a dummy sometime.
Early on, still together. Photo credit: RunningMadPhoto
It always amazes me how slow the miles go by when you are not feeling that great. While I was feeling great mentally and my stomach was doing great, my legs were definitely feeling very heavy. There was no quitting here so onward I went with a combination of walking, shuffling and running. I was alone for most of the second loop and I had no idea how many people were ahead or behind me. Later I found out that bunch of people didn't even start the second loop, hence, emptiness. Running across the last open field I knew the finish line was less than a mile away so I picked up the pace. I rounded the last corner and crossed the now erased finish line. I was done. Phunt you.
Cold and wet
I was soaking wet so I went in and got into some dry clothes right away before grabbing some post race refreshments. I was hoping Amy would show up any minute, but it would be another 40 min or so before she finally emerged through the door. Her shoes had no traction on the 2nd lap and she really struggled to get through. But she did it! While both of us didn't have the best running day out there, we were both glad we did it. These are the kind of races that build character, that teach you lessons you cannot learn otherwise, and that make you better prepared for the future.
Now we beer. Well done.
The Phunt 50K was a great event. Great terrain, course that was incredibly well marked and of course the people. While going into it with some hesitation, I would have only regrets if I didn't do it. Trail Dawgs put on a world class event and I cannot wait to run the Fair Hills trails once again next year!

Go forth and run!
Tired but warm and ready to go home.
Some more pictures for your viewing pleasure.
Ready to go!

Feeling good Photo credit: RunningMadPhoto

Oh hi there photographer. Photo credit: RunningMadPhoto

First lap. Photo credit: RunningMadPhoto

Get them. Photo credit: RunningMadPhoto

Single track before the rain

Action shot.

Covered bridge

Starting to get wet!

Mud and slop

This is what your Altras look like after mud and rain


  1. Wow, those shoes are intense!! And I love the photos with your GoPro (that is a GoPro, right??). I just got on for my bday this year and I can't wait to take it on runs soon!

    1. Hi Jamie. Thanks for commenting. Yes it was a mud fest! And you are right, I was using GoPro for those pics. I got it last year and love it. I don't do anything crazy with it, but it has been great for everything, from family beach trips and waterparks to skiing.

  2. It is really awesome running and a good experiences for all. walking frames can help on the way. It will provide little bit safety so that you can cause any injuries to yourself.

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