An unusually mild and damp New Year’s Eve morning greeted the runners with thick fog on this, the second Wring Out the Old, Ring in the New trail run since the pandemic struck. Thanks to CRR Bill Rose for once again organizing this annual event.
Like a fine Swiss timepiece, CRR Martin Wolfer just keeps on ticking. Living a few miles southeast of Zürich, he is ever ready for the next grueling challenge among the beauty of his beloved Swiss alps, where he and his wife, Conny, vacation annually.
On July 2, Wolfer completed a rather unique race over varying terrain—the “Top20 Run.” Starting near Zermatt, at an altitude of 1,609m (approx. 5,261 ft.—think Denver, Colo.), the 22.1km (13.7-mile) course rose in the first 10km to about 2,300m (7,521 ft.), then leveled off for the next 6km, before climbing steeply over the final 6km to the finish at Gornergrat—elevation 3,101m (that’s about 10,140 ft.)!
Wolfer’s finishing time was 2:52:30. The other unique feature of the Top20 was that one’s place was determined by using an age-dependent factor. So, even though Wolfer is now 65 years of age, he came in 8th overall among the 143 men who finished, with an age-accounted-for time score of 2:13:46 (a 0.7754 factor having been applied to his actual finishing time).
With regard to the course, Wolfer said, “Above 2500m the air becomes very thin.” He could run over the initial 16km but admitted that, for him, ”in the steep part only walking was possible.” Understandable might be an understatement. So is the word impressive.
For those of you who weren’t around Creek Road in the mid- to late-1980s, while Wolfer was living in Newark, Del., he was one of the area’s preeminent racers, at one point holding both the Delaware 5K and marathon records in his age group! Back then, he could run around 15 flat in a 5K and had a marathon time of 2 hours, 28 minutes and change.
Nice to see that he is in good shape and still ticking off the miles, er, kilometers.
On December 31st, we renewed a yearly Creek Road Runners tradition that we had to pull the plug on in 2020. Sixteen participants and two dogs showed up to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. We managed to get a decent group shot and keep a reasonable social distance.
CRR Barret Michalec touched based recently, sending in some of his thoughts and experiences from living and running in Arizona, where he moved about a year and a half ago.
I’ve been running here and there since moving to Arizona. I live in an area called Fountain Hills. It gets its name from the famous Fountain, and, of course, [there are] rolling hills…which I have learned about first-hand in my running. The heat is the kicker, can’t really get out any time after 9 a.m. in the summer and even late spring, but during the “winter” and “fall” it’s pretty fantastic running.
I haven’t been training or anything but saw a run that looked fun. It was a trail 15k in the local mountains…AT NIGHT! I hadn’t done much trail running because of the snakes and wildlife and fear of getting lost, but I figured I would be able to see all the other headlamps of fellow runners at this thing. It was super awesome. A bit scary, a bit like “They allow us to do this?!”
I ended up finishing in 1 hour and 20 minutes and came in 3rd [among] all men (4th overall out of 60+ [finishers]). What struck me was the age of the top—all over 40. Trail running must be something different out here—different crowd, different techniques/tactics. I couldn’t use my long strides because of the rocks and loose-footing areas on the uphills and downhills, and there are a lot of twists and turns, so you have to really focus…especially at night.
There were folks there for a 75k, 50k, and a 25k! NUTS! Maybe [I’ll do] the 25k next time though….
Barret, thanks for the update, and stay cool out there.
The novel coronavirus has certainly changed the behavioral landscape in 2020, particularly in terms of event cancellation. The Creek Road Runners annual trail run, traditionally held on Dec. 31, was no exception.
Not to be completely deterred, however, was CRR Mark Deshon, who, along with four other “millennium men,” began this holiday tradition in 1999. In an effort to exercise (or is it exorcise?) away the effect of all the holiday food that is ever-present and so tempting while sheltering in place, he decided to make good on the last decent-weather day of the year (Dec. 30) by engaging in a duathlon pilgrimage, biking to and from the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area and running the course.
The 4.1-mile bike—4.67-mile run—4.1-mile bike effort was both a challenge and a good way to close out what had been a great year of training for Deshon. With some transition time in between, mostly to change gloves and headgear, his times were 17:52, 40:26, and 15:35, respectively.
The wind from the southwest was substantial, accounting for the big time difference on the bike, while the “monster” of New Muenster hill gradually slowed him to a survival jog.
Deshon missed the company of triathlete and CRR Steve Tague, with whom he had been bike training since May. Tague was also trying to take advantage of the good weather by finishing a deck-building project.
Another year, another trail run in the book, and another year of “wringing out the old.” And, yes, the old was completely wrung out in 2020. Time to ring in the new!
For a sample chronicling of past years’ events, check out the following: