I first heard of Eastern States 100 in 2014 as soon as it was announced. I was very excited about this 100 miler so close to home and was looking forward to it right away. I was not ready to tackle the 100 mile distance yet, and looked from afar how the race developed. I was supposed to go and pace a friend in 2014 edition, but never made it to the course due to him dropping before I even got there. Not knowing anyone else at the race I turned around and went home. Toward the end of 2014 I felt that I was ready to make the step to the 100 mile distance, and naturally, ES 100 was at the top of my list. I heard of some minor issues during the first year, but every first year race has those, and race was working on fixing them. In January I signed up and began my training. It was so exciting watching the amazing volunteers prepare the trail throughout the year. They were doing some major work.
|My amazing crew at the start|
|First crew access|
|Getting it done|
|Not sure where this is|
|Half way point|
Am I bitter? Yes, of course I am. I trained long and hard for this. I was feeling great the entire race. I had plenty left in me to speed up and bang this thing out once the sun came up. Is it possible that I could have failed to make it? Maybe. But I will never know. I was not given that opportunity. I understand why the cutoffs are there. I understand that they serve a purpose. But they need to be correct and make sense. Distances need to be at least somewhat accurate. Having several aid stations off by more than 2 miles is not ok, ever. I understand that this does not affect everyone, and that there were 57 people that did finish. However, with almost 180 some people starting and 30% finish rate, there are clearly issues that need to be looked at. While it was hot, it was not insane. It was a fairly normal August day. There was no reason for such a poor finish rate.
|Getting ready to go out|
In the past week, I've spent countless hours thinking about this race. What if I ran a bit faster? What if I wasn't so conservative? What if? What if? I've spent many hours looking at other 100 mile events around the country, closely examining the information and documents that they provide for runners. I have done a lot of research, and I've walked away with one conclusion. Eastern States has a work to do. Work that is not impossible or hard to achieve but it has to be done. Cutoffs have to be adjusted to match the terrain and distance. Data provided needs to be accurate. Small but simple things are what makes the race. It comes down to what does Eastern States want to be. A small 100 mile event in PA that is extremely hard and only few can finish, or a major 100 mile race that draws people from around the country and world. It has a potential to be just that. Changes can only happen if people speak up. I am not alone in these thoughts. I realize that I might get flack for this post, but these are my opinions. I have been at plenty of races here in the US and in Europe and have a pretty good knowledge and understanding of this sport.
Huge thank you to Amy, Mo and Sandy. I could have not done this without you. You were invaluable, and I hope to be able to return the favor one day.
Go forth and run.
Note: I did reach out to RD and the race organization with the issues I encountered. I will post an update when I get a reply.
PS. Great podcast about the race with race winner Mike Wardian. He brings up some good points. He saw it a bit different from the front. I hope RDs learn from year 2 and grow.
|Still in good spirits at end.|
|Go go go|
|Crew man Mo|
|At the start|