Batona Trail 50K  

New Jersey Pine Barrens, Ong's Hat, NJ  Nov 3, 2018

I had never run a 50K. After finishing the Burning River 50 mile trail ultra in July, I decided to train for my first 50K ultra not far from home. No motel or hotel reservations needed.

 

The first Batona 50 event, which is really a 55 mile ultra, took place in 2014. In 2018, a 50K event, which is 33.9 miles, was added. These Batona ultra events are not for first time ultrarunners. Running ultras since 2005, I felt confident I would finish in the 12 hour time limit.

It's an ultra event in the wilderness of Wharton State Forest in South Jersey - Jersey Devil country. And a bit unorganized at the start. And until this year, it was free.

 

Even though my husband and I have hiked on parts of the Batona Trail, getting to the 6:00 am start was confusing. The race didn't start until 6:30 am because the shuttle bus transporting runners was late. It was a cold November Saturday. It had rained the night before. 

The whole ordeal is quite a blur. I got lost about 2 miles into the morning darkness and went 1.5 miles in the wrong direction.  But I found another lost runner. We stayed together and missed the 21.5 mile cutoff. This 50K ultra was my fifth DNF.  

The course description made no mention of swamps, planks, and foot bridges, especially after rain the night before. The course description does mention that runners get lost. They got that right.

But I still enjoyed myself and left smiling. Nature and being outdoors does that to me.  And I did not suffer. No blisters! Only $30 to register and no t-shirt or medals for everyone. And I made a new friend.

Will I go back this year? I don't know. It's early this year - October 12 and a bit more expensive - $50. But there will be swag for participants and finishers. And I might get lost, again!

Layered up with my headlamp and hand flashlight

I had no idea I was lost when I ran across Siri who was also lost. Here we are trying to make up for lost time and miles.

We're at about mile 9 and faced with a flooded swamp and a wobbly foot bridge. 

The obligatory selfie with my husband Jon at the start.

We were feeling good and running as fast as we could on the flat portion of the trail.

It's about mile 10 and together with the aid of shoe string for rope, we gingerly navigated our feet across the wet planks over another swamp.

With 5 miles to go to the 21.5 mile cutoff and feeling strong, Siri and I are stopped by race volunteers at the 16.5 mile aid station. So we did the next best thing - we exchanged phone numbers, followed each other on Facebook, and become friends for life.