Fall 50 USATF 50 Mile Road Championships: Race Report
[!(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tjnIMsVUgfA/VFAtucVvDiI/AAAAAAAABOo/yrCq72Ks3w0/s1600/RoadChamps.png)](http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tjnIMsVUgfA/VFAtucVvDiI/AAAAAAAABOo/yrCq72Ks3w0/s1600/RoadChamps.png)[The Fall 50](http://www.fall50.com/) race course in Door County, WI, has long been my favorite race course. The [point-to-point route](http://www.fall50.com/course/leg-descriptions/) from Gills Rock down to Sturgeon Bay guarantees a scenic experience this time of year. Race Director Sean Ryan does a fantastic job organizing and exciting the participants in both the solo and relay divisions with a great race-day atmosphere, and possibly the most electric post-ultra parties I've seen. My main goal going into the Fall 50 was to get a good training stimulus for the World 100k Championships in Qatar on November 21. However, knowing speedster Tyler Sigl would be toeing the line this year, I toyed with the possibility of getting close to or breaking five hours if I could latch onto Tyler—or at least better my 50 mile time from Chicago Lakefront last year. I was convinced that Tyler had the skills to hit that time, given good weather, even despite the rolling hills speckled along the first 30 miles and the one last climb at mile 39.
It became clear to me early on that I would not be able to break 5 hours. It was windy, and depending on our direction at any given time, we either had a strong headwind or side wind. Tyler wasn't ready to concede though, and he clipped off sub-six-minute miles seemingly effortlessly. Tyler pulled away from me, Michael Borst and Mike Bialick after a couple miles and gradually moved out of sight. I dialed into my familiar effort, which at home resulted in 5:55/mile. But that was on a flat, paved and calm environment. Here, it got me something slower than 6:00/mile. Michael Borst, Mike Bialick and I stayed with each other pretty tightly until mile 15, where I made a conscious effort to pick up the pace a bit. Mile 16 welcomed a 6–7 mile stretch through Peninsula State Park, a nationally recognized and heavily visited state park that boasts some of the most beautiful fall days. I really enjoy running through Peninsula State Park, so I managed to clip through it at a relatively fast pace (right around or slightly below 6:00/mile). Once nearing the end of Peninsula State Park, I began to mentally break up the remaining sections of the course. The route winds through a few small towns that become gorged with tourists and seasonal residence during the summer and fall months. My thought process was to focus on getting through Fish Creek, then Egg Harbor, and once I made it out of Egg Harbor try to pick the pace up a bit, for the exception of the last hill climb at mile 39. I made it through Fish Creek and up the infamous Gibraltar Bluff, and quickly moved onto Egg Harbor. I had remembered that once leaving Egg Harbor the course was pancake flat for the exception of the mile 39 hill. This got me excited, as I have become very comfortable with dropping pace on the flats this fall. Plus, at mile 25, I got some feedback that Tyler was only five minutes ahead of me. I had assumed he was further up then that, so I began to tease the idea that he might have taken on a bit too much going out at a sub-6:00 clip in this year's windy conditions. I felt great and was sure I'd be able to at the very least maintain my current pace through the finish. Just as soon as that excitement came, my day got thrown for a loop. Due to a missing directional sign, and partly my own lack of wherewithal, I sped straight down Players Club Road across Highway 42. The course pretty much follows Highway 42 down the Peninsula, so I probably should have observed that I had crossed 42 and questioned where I was heading. Unfortunately, this wasn't my thought process. Instead I thought: No sign—must be straight. I made it about 2 miles down Peninsula Players Road before hitting a T-intersection with Highway A. Still no signs. I had been worried for a bit over a mile that I was off course, but when I turned around I was able to see Mike Bialick in the distance (he was about 5–6 minutes behind me at this point). With my main goals being a good stimulus for Worlds and to PR in the 50 mile being out the window I had to ask myself if it was smart to push on anyway, or to take the stimulus I got from 50k of hard pavement at a low-six-minute pace and call it a day. I was quite fixated on keeping my main priorities on Worlds and the brief three weeks of recovery I would have before Desert Solstice following Worlds. I did what I thought was in my best interest going forward and decided to drop. Tyler Sigl struggled a bit the final 20 miles, but managed to secure the win with a 5:32:24 I am really excited to see what he can do on a flat paved course in the future, given perfect weather and a good day. He seems to have figured out how to race the rolling Midwest single track based on his performances at North Face 50 Mile in 2013 and 2014. Albeit a less than ideal race result for me, I am still very happy I was able to attend and hang out pre- and post-race. My mindset going forward is that perhaps this was a blessing in disguise and that I will have a bit extra in my legs this Fall and Winter at Worlds and Desert Solstice. On the women's side of things, [Larisa Dannis](http://larisadannis.wordpress.com/) laid down what was in my opinion one of the most impressive road ultras by an American in quite some time. She managed to break six hours with an official time of 5:59:11. And, of course, she dealt with the same windy conditions the rest of us did. Not only that, but she managed to do so by going into the race with a plan to keep her heart constant, and she decided against wearing a more tradition "fast road shoe." It was pretty cool to watch her cross the finish line. A big thanks to Sean Ryan and all the volunteers who worked so hard to put an exciting weekend. Also to my Sister Beth, one of most tried and true ultra crew members, for helping me get ready and race. I look forward to a return to the Fall 50 in the future! ### GPS Data: * [Strava](http://www.strava.com/activities/214753762) ### Gear: * [Altra One2](http://www.altrarunning.com/fitness/en/Altra/Men/one-squared-mens) * [Drymax Hyper-thin Running](http://www.drymaxsocks.com/running_hyper_thin.php) * RaceReady Tights * RaceReady Singlet * Altra Buff * [Ultimate Direction Fast Draw 20 Extreme](http://www.avantlink.com/click.php?tt=cl&mi=12437&pw=156695&ctc=acceptance_email&url=http://www.ultimatedirection.com) * [Ultimate Direction 10oz](http://www.ultimatedirection.com/?avad=156695_d7531516&utm_source=zachbitterrunning.blogspot.com&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=avantlink&cid=aff_zachbitterrunning.blogspot.com) * [Ultimate Direction Visor](http://www.ultimatedirection.com/?avad=156695_d7531516&utm_source=zachbitterrunning.blogspot.com&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=avantlink&cid=aff_zachbitterrunning.blogspot.com) * [Julbo Race](http://www.julbousa.com/performance/race/) ### Fuel: * [Vespa Ultra Concentrate](http://www.vespapower.com/Ultra-Concentrate-VESPA-12-pack-of-pouches_p_18.html) * [Vespa Junior](http://www.vespapower.com/VESPA-Junior-12-pack-of-pouches_p_8.html) * [VFuel gel (3)](http://vfuel.com/) * Mountain Dew * Coconut Water * Water