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The Catharine Valley half marathon takes center stage on a portion of the former Pennsylvania Railroad “Elmira Branch” roadbed. Long before walkers, runners & cyclist were plying this trail, the railroad moved loaded coal trains from central Pennsylvania to the massive docks situated along the shores of Lake Ontario at Sodus Point, NY. Here the coal would be off loaded onto waiting Great Lake ships for the rest of its journey.
My race weekend began early on Saturday August 15th. How early you ask, 1AM early as I had to be at work by 2AM. I managed to get out of work relatively quick making a beeline home for a three hour nap before packing my car and heading west to the quaint Finger Lake town of Watkins Glen, NY.
I had plans to meet my good friend and running accomplice Diana that afternoon as we were sharing a campsite at Clute Park on the southern shore of Seneca Lake. I arrived at the campground around 3PM to find Diana had already set up her tent. Several minutes later I had mine ready to go as well. A cold dip of the hand into our coolers and the first pre-race celebratory beers were cracked open. A few beverages later we decided to walk into Watkins Glen for food and maybe another beer or two. Shortly after our walk began the skies opened up and I was drenched! Diana had the wisdom to bring an umbrella.
After some delicious pizza and a quick trip to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dessert we made our way back to the campground. Tired and full we turned in for the night as we had a big day ahead of us on Sunday.
Race morning was foggy and cool and we were excited. We did a mile and a half warm up run from our campsite to where the race would begin. Eventually the fog and coolness would burn off and the blazing summer sun was upon us. A few more warm up laps around the track at Watkins Glen High School and it was race time.
The Catherine Valley trail is mostly shaded and is of hard packed cinder. The trail is flat for the first several miles and then begins a gradual climb to the turn around point. I was making great time and was at 6.5 miles in 45 minutes. I’ll admit I was looking forward to that gradual decline on the way back. The heat and humidity really got to me and I just couldn’t get the speed I wanted on the return. At mile 10 I began to fade a bit from the heat and some strength issues. By mile 11 I was really starting to feel it.
I crossed the finish line at 1:43:54 75th out of 409 runners and I couldn’t have been prouder. Yeah it wasn’t my best performance but it wasn’t my worst either, you can’t win them all. This was my first experience with this race and I have to say it is one of my favorites to date. I’m not a big fan of summer racing but Red Newt Racing and all the volunteers did a wonderful job. Especially with the post race food!
Twenty four hours after the finish of the Seneca 7 relay race I am still flying on high. The Seneca 7 is a 77.7 mile relay race the circles Seneca Lake in New York State’s Finger Lakes region.
Beginning in Geneva New York teams consisting of 7 runners with each runner running 3 legs with various distances compete in this ever growing competition. On this day there were initially 225 teams in total. Our team Liar, Liar Feet on Fire competed in the days event and we were blessed with weather that was absolutely perfect. Plenty of sunshine and 66 degree temperatures.
We began the day in the last wave at 9:30AM and quickly clicked off the miles. By 1:30PM our team had made it halfway around the lake. We arrived back to Geneva crossing the finish line at 6:17PM taking 1st place male team and 3rd place overall.
We all ran hard, put what we had on the line but most importantly we had fun. The Seneca 7 is a wonderful experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to be a part of it once again.
See you in 2016!
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November 2014 I complete a life journey, the New York City Marathon. A two and a half year adventure that took my life in an amazing direction. A direction that without the love and support of my family in particular my wife and children might have not been realized.
In a blog post I penned after my marathon https://adirondackjoe.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/2014-new-york-city-marathon/ I made mentioned of looking forward to what my future had in store.
Today I know where my future is headed and that is up. I started the paperwork to become an “Aspiring” Adirondack 46-R. In New York States Adirondack Park there are 46 high peaks with the tallest being Mt. Marcy at 5,344 feet or 1,629 meters for those on the metric system. I plan to summit them all over the next several years.
This summer my son Michael and I will summit 4,865′ Whiteface Mountain and 4,239′ Mt. Esther. My goal is to hike all 46 high peaks during all four seasons with the bulk being summer and fall. Who cannot resist fall color in the Adirondack’s!
Just recently I purchased a pair of MSR Lightning Ascent hiking snowshoes for the purpose of summiting a few high peaks during winter. These particular snowshoes are designed for exactly this. Looking forward to putting them to the test either this winter or next.
My running is still a huge passion of mine, however in 2015 my goal is to focus less on racing and more on fitness. I do have two exciting races rapidly approaching with the first being the Syracuse half marathon on March 22nd which I had hopes of PRing. At this point I don’t even care! I look at what I have been given and just to be afforded the ability to run 13.1 miles is gratification enough. Next is my all time favorite race “The Seneca 7” on April 19th. This is my race, the race I look forward to 364 days a year. This relay race is a 77.7 mile party around the beautiful Seneca lake in New York’s magnificent Finger Lakes Region. I love the camaraderie, team spirit and of course the competition. Throw in some good food, friends an adult beverage or two afterwards and you have storybook ending on a amazing weekend.
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Inspired by good fortune and a deep body of blue, the Seneca 7 is a 77.7 mile relay race that encircles Seneca Lake in New York State’s Finger Lakes region. Seneca Lake occupies 66.87 square miles, is 37.9 miles long, 1.864 miles wide and 617 feet deep. All you and your team has to do is run around it. Teams consist of seven runners, all of whom must run three legs totaling approximately eleven miles each. Sounds simple, right!
It’s Sunday April 27th and the stage is set. 214 teams are ready to compete with the first wave of runners lined up at the start line by 0700. Each additional wave would begin 30 minutes apart until the final wave at 0930. The wave times and number of runners per wave were dependent on the estimated pace your team entered up registering for this event. Our team known as “Liar Liar Feet on Fire” inspired by incidents during the 2013 Seneca 7 was in the final wave (0930) with an estimated team pace of 7 minutes per mile. Since I was the team captain and I registered us I estimated the pace based on a nagging injury I’ve had.
Lighting the fire:
Our first runner was Jeff Faherty who set the stage with a stellar performance of a 22:31 3.8 mile rolling first leg. Chris Strub rocked leg #2 of his 2.7 mile run of mostly flat terrain with a time of 17:09 handing the baton off to James Wilson. James crushed leg #3, a long uphill battle of 4.9 miles gaining a total of 200 feet in elevation in 34:04. Ryan Heinlein picked up where James left off at leg #4 hammering out his 3.2 miles complete with a monster hill which gained 120 feet of elevation in a 1/2 mile. Ryan’s performance of 17:01:16 was inspirational. Next up, Scott Robinson who has been battling a chest cold and congestion for several days now. Scott’s an animal, even though he was under the weather, Scott kept our fires burning with his leg #5 showing of 3.8 miles which climbed steadily to a total of 222 feet in elevation in 30:10. Ricky Bennett was on deck for leg #6 and he has been saddled with a 4.6 mile incremental downhill complete with some uphills delivering a 30:41 show stopper. Lastly yours truly, handling leg #7 of 4.1 miles ascending to a total of 215 feet in elevation. Throw in my nagging injury and I killed it at a 6:50 pace for a total of 28:04 and the day would continue on like this for us. The roadkills began piling up (215 total)! When we started at 0930 there were only 8 runners. Fast forward 77.7 miles and 8:52:02 later “Liar Liar Feet on Fire” would cross the finish line in 6th place overall, averaging out at a 6:50 per mile pace around Seneca Lake.
Conclusion: Throw together seven guys from all walks of life gelling together to run hard and compete as a team. Toss in clouds, cold and wind typical weather of April in Central New York and you have a rewarding finish. For me the Seneca 7 is my favorite race I have run, hands down. What I love about this race is its spirit, camaraderie and passion. Cannot wait to see what next year has in store for us. Great job guys!
Jeff Faherty approaching exchange point 1.
Image © Joe Geronimo