Naked Prussian 50 Leesport, PA March 31, 2018
I was excited to tackle the Naked Prussian 50 mile trail ultra. I couldn't believe the registration fee is only $39.00! And the ultra takes place around a lake in in Leesport, PA - Blue Marsh Lake. I had run the Dirty German 50 trail ultra in Philadelphia twice. The first time in 2013 and got a DNF. I went back in 2016, and placed third in my age group. Both races are part of Uberendurnce Sports.
My husband and I drove to Leesport, PA on Good Friday and checked into our hotel. We went to Good Friday services. It was also Passover. We then made a video about how and what to pack for a 50 mile trail ultra for my YouTube channel - ULTRAMIRIAM. The Naked Prussian 50 was my 22nd ultra and my 8th 50 miler.
Race day Saturday morning was cold and chilly. I opted for the 6 am start instead of the 7 am start. The 50 milers had 14 hours and so did the marathoners.The course was around a beautiful lake, which I loved. But much to my chagrin, the lollypop loop course also included "mountainous" ascends and descends. I was not expecting this as the course and the trails are described as "not very rocky", "great for beginners and speedy runners alike," and "not super fast or super easy but doable..."on the website.
There were sections that were flat and I was able to make up time and move faster. It was cold and chilly but the sky was bright blue and the sun shined brightly. I made it to the first 6 aid stations and the first 22 miles. Jon met me at all the aid stations. I ate avocados slices and home made Paleo dark chocolate chip cookies made with almond flour. The aid stations were well stocked with other items I ingest during ultras - salted potatoes, eggs and bacon, and grilled cheese. I was well hydrated with Nuun.
Not far from the first cut off at mile 26, I ran into a former college student of mine, Zach who had just started his second loop. I'm so happy he finished his first 50 mile ultra! I never anticipated not making the first non-negotiable hard cut off at mile 26. I missed the cut off by 7 minutes and was not allowed to continue. A couple of runners in front of me who made the cut off dropped. I was neither tired nor exhausted. I felt confident that I would have moved a little faster the second time around now that I knew the course. But I was denied.
While I was a bit disappointed that I missed the cut off my 7 minutes, which in running is an eternity, I felt contented. This ultra was a special ultra for me. I dedicated this utlra to my husband Jon. Three weeks prior to the race, he was diagnosed with cancer. Race day was also on Easter Saturday and the end of my Lenten journey. And so I prayed for 26 miles. Each pink course streamer guiding the runners served as a rosary bead. At each pink streamer, whether I ran or walked past it, I quietly recited a prayer for Jon's healing.
For me, one of the gifts of ultrarunning is that it lends itself to solitude, reflection, and prayer no matter the terrain or weather. It was time well-spent in the trails and ascends and descends around a still and peaceful lake. For my physical efforts and finishing 26 miles, I was bestowed a glass beer mug. I don't drink beer, but I collect mugs, so it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise just like the brutally deceptive course that stopped me in my tracks by 7 minutes. On this day, 7 was not my lucky number.