Too Stupid To Know Better

As a writer, I’m allowed to embellish: it’s called poetic license. I do occasionally exercise these rites while penning my posts. But as regards my last missive, about this year’s Escarpment Trail Run, I realize now that I’ve read the tales of others (especially those who were behind me, and therefore caught more of the storm weather, plus the volunteers who spent up to 12 hours on the mountain that day), I may actually have understated the case. The heavy thunder-lightning-hail-rain storm that hit in the middle of the race (coming on the heels of all-night storms that kept most runners awake when they should have been getting pre-race rest, which themselves came on top of 36 hours constant rain earlier in the week), knocked out power for 9,000 people in the area, and not for the first time this summer:

Central Hudson is seeing about a 40 percent increase in “outages related to lightning strikes” this year as compared with years past,

reported the Daily Freeman newspaper.

“It is a real issue for us,” said Van Buren, who added that the company does spend a great deal of time and money installing lightning protection on its equipment. “It is an interesting phenomenon,” she said.

It’s also an example of what you might call climate change.

picture-4.jpgI believe this is Ben Nephew, who wins the race most years in under 3 hours (!!!!), simply jumping through the deep standing water we were greeted with at the start of the race. This photo and 152 others by Tamatha S., including some from somebody perched mid-course, can be viewed properly here. Chem them out: there are some gorgeous pictures.

Meantime, I’ve cribbed a few comments from our e-mail group.

From race organizer and founder Dick Vincent. (You will have to bear with his madness for describing it as “fun.” He habitually describes all participants as “too stupid to know better,” and readily includes himself in such category.)

This year was the worst water I have ever seen on the trail, and certainly
the worst storms, especially the electricity, that I have experienced during
this event. But I had a blast, certainly the most fun I have had in a long time crossing this thoroughfare. However, lightning is like bees, it is no big
deal whatsoever, unless they strike, and we were very fortunate not to have
someone struck down. Below is what the Berkshire Eagle reported of this storm when it got to Southern County, Mass, where someone at Tanglewood got nailed
< < From about 1 to 2:30 p.m., lightning struck the ground at a rate of almost 100 strikes every 15 minutes in South County, Wasula said.<< We were very lucky. Certainly, with the extreme lightning, the wild rain, the hail, and trails that were more like following brooks that paths, this year was the most memorable in my mind.

This from the volunteers who hike in to Dutcher’s Notch, a valley between the two biggest climbs (and descents) on the trail:

“The Dutcher Notch crew’s adventure did not end when the sweeps came thru (very
glad to see the sweep crew) but then we had to get across all the
rivers and rivulets that had formed. Just before finally getting off
the trail we had to negotiate a creek which was now a raging torrent.
We pretty much formed a human chain ferrying each member across. this
final adventure definitely had it’s hairy moments. I’ll be back next
year–maybe I should work the finish line.”

The crazy cats from the Albany Running Exchange make a video at every race they attend. This five-minute clip captures a little of the mood of the day – but even they didn’t send anyone on the actual course with a camera.

This from someone who pulled a DNF. I think you can understand why when you read of his trail tribulations.

“It rained on this trip. I mean it really rained. Thunder started
rumbling as I was approaching the base of Blackhead. It started raining as I beganthe incline. For me this is a 25 minute climb. Before the rain, I said that 30 minutes would work today.
It took 45 minutes on this trip.

As I ascended, it started raining harder. Real hard. Halfway up, I am
listening to huge thunder right over head, and it’s already coming down in
torrents. I remember keeping my head down and only looking at the next steps in front of me.

What I am to do now? Well, keep going of course.

It rains harder and it gets steeper. I am getting colder. After all, I am
wearing next to nothing (loop t-shirt and shorts and a skimpy runners cap).
Water is rushing down the rocks as I come to the hard parts. We’re talking only 50-100 feet of elevation gain, but up a waterfall. At a steep slope. Am I
crazy? This is absolutely the worse part of the course, and I am mixing it up
with lightening bolts.

It starts hailing. That is: ICE is falling out of the sky. Did I tell
you I was getting colder?”

This from an Escarpment veteran, someone who joined the 400 mile club on this run.

“having traversed the trail 22 times during the race and many times not during the race, i can attest to this being the most difficult conditions I’ve ever seen.? I asked the ranger, whose name escapes me at the moment, at the finish if he’d ever seen water like that on the trail, and he said emphatically that this was the worst he’d ever seen!? The standing water was the worst for me since I like to see what I’m landing on.? The running water was interesting, and I enjoyed knowing if I was going up or down depending on which direction the water was running!

I’m eternally thankful that no one got seriously hurt by the conditions out there….there were many people struck by lightening that day in New York State.”

And this, again from Dick Vincent:

“The Cangemi’s and their aid station on North Point witnessed numerous
lightning strikes from their birds next atop of the highly exposed North Point. Dave Boles and gang, tucked in Dutcher’s Notch had been flooded out of their usual spot in the trail, and were tending to many of the runners suffering from “Lightning Shock”, one who had tingles up her arm and had her hair stand up when one blast hit.”

And this from the Volunteers at North Point, the last aid station on the race:

Our cars were parked at the Mary’s Glen trail head, so we hiked down
the Mary’s Glen trail. This trail is often wet; Sunday morning it was
quite wet. On Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves hiking through
rivers. When I realized my shoes were as wet as they were going to
get, and there wasn’t much point in avoiding water, the hike became
more pleasant.

And finally, this from someone who took it all in the right spirit:

AND, this is the first year I had a major fall (and 4
stitches that I am pretty darn proud of).

Me, my shoulder is purple, my calf muscles have still not eased up, and I have a badly bruised toe despite the so-called toe-schock protection built into my trail shoes, and then there’s the general cuts and scrapes, but it’s all okay, because I’m too stupid to know better. Like all those above, I’m just glad no one got seriously hurt out there. Next year: warm sunshine and low humidity?

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