One of New Jersey's club med getaways, a public park called South Mountain, lies directly "where the city meets the suburbs" in diner land known as Millburn/Summit/Verona/South Orange/Montclair outskirts/the furthest west some dare to venture. This being the site of the Febapple races on the 24th I will review the 10 mile course, which everyone did who ran any of the distances.
What is a Febapple?
-a new snazzy phone
-3 for 1 at any of Applebees' 2500 locations nationwide
-a marketable name for a kick-ass laidback trail run
The course this year was a 10-mile lap comprised of two half loops, 4- and 6- miles respectively. Now theory has it that what goes up must come down. But on this 10-mile loop you simply never come down. Both metaphorically from the high of running with 50-100 cool folks on the same endeavor, and that you seemingly are climbing up from the start line, back up to the start line, back up to the start line. If you were sick of running the loop you could finish the race with a stepclimber at the finish area.
The course featured the variety of trail conditions in the park; there was a good mix of rooty, rocky, technical single track trails, some beautiful straighaway wide paths with views of the lake and dam, and some field-crossing sections. One gaint downhill and very steep climb added some good elevation change, about 1200 or so per 10 mile lap. Instead of ribbons the trail was neatly marked with flour which stayed visible even after a bout of drizzle the night before. It was perfect training for both flat and hill ultras.
I needed some big mileage to prep for another year of the same races I did last year, being creative and all. But instead of running in packed snow and ice like the year before, when there were only 3 out of 25 finishers of the 50 mile, it was a crisp fallish day of around 45 degrees with some low-gale wind. Actually the wind was fairly strong at points but the trees absorbed it well. I witnessed again this year a tree falling in the woods, this one hung precipitously above the trail.
Outbound on the second loop I joined up with another runner, and we began chatting whilst running the second portion first. This brain anurysm caused us to panic 3.5 miles into our chat, and backtrack only to realize we could have just done them out of sequence anyway. For that we received a penalty of being set back by an hour and a half, adding 7 miles to the course, plus finishing at dark, which was also awesome.
Performance wise, this run gave me decent end to a week but I ran it quite lightly, 11:15 or so average miles. I ran most of it except the big climb and a couple other climbs to save energy, if I wanted to go all out I might have pulled off better time. But seeing as last year at this time I was getting only 15 mile weeks it felt good to be ahead of the game. I didn't need to eat much (used to pig out for a 50 miler) and found 100-200 calories per hour worked just fine, in the form of bananas and dark chocolate nature valley bars.
There were many more runners this year than last, good to see the popularity of this grass-roots NJ trail running pasttime growing rapidly. Before you know it folks will be moving from the west coast to live in the trail running mecca of Northeast New Jersey.