I ♥ New York – and the Twisted Branch Trail

I ♥ New York – and the Twisted Branch Trail.

On Saturday, August 20, 2016, I was fortunate enough to experience the Twisted Branch 100k, put on by Scott Magee and pals. A good portion of the course is on the Bristol Hills Branch trail, which is part of the Finger Lakes Trail system in New York. (Yes, wine region!) This is a young race, but seems to have none of the hiccups of some new races. It is well-organized, has easy logistics in terms of start/finish (camp at finish line by the beach on Friday night and take the school bus to the start at 3am Sat morning), a laid-back vibe, wonderful volunteers – oh, and beautiful trails! Early on, we were treated to some wonderful lake views – and lake breezes J There are some good climbs on the course, but gentler footing than our Massanuttens. Portions of the course were pine needle-covered trails, which I love. Running with my phone to take pictures ensures multiple hard falls, and so I usually try to take “mental snapshots” along the trails. One such snapshot occurred ~mile 40; it was hot, I had just finished a climb, but then the trail turned into a forest of tall pine trees – with the sun filtering through, the whole scene was bathed in a soft red glow. So beautiful. I looked around, raised my arms, and said (to no one), “Thank you God. This is why we do this.”

This course contains what could be a contender for the best three-mile stretch of trail anywhere (or, at least, during the later stages of a race defined by climbs and hot weather). Upon arriving at the mile 55 AS, Scott’s mother-in-law described those next three miles to me: “This section is all shaded and flat.” AND SHE WAS RIGHT! It was smooth and shaded –however (and not surprisingly), I did manage to fall once J The trail then spilled out into a little vineyard for a short stretch before hitting the last aid station. Here, I was told by a gruff older gentleman: “It’s all downhill .  . . (long pause)– once you make it to the top of that tower over there.” I groaned, as my body was feeling very weak and depleted at that point. However, I was grateful to be out there, and so started the climb. I guess everything is relative, because in my head I envisioned the climb up Sherman’s Gap, in the heat and sun (like OD100 last year, when I thought I was done sweating for the day). While I sweated a TON, taking 4 electrolyte pills over the course of 45 min and having to stop twice because my hamstring was spasming so badly I couldn’t even walk, the climb was not as bad as I envisioned. Due to a recent bacterial infection in my leg stemming from arthropod bites, I was extremely cognizant of the bugs around me, and so channeled my inner Gary Knipling and grabbed a branch that I used as my “nipper stick” to swat the bugs while climbing. The last 30 minutes were extremely difficult due to some health issues I’m dealing with, but it was worth it to cross that finish line by the beach. Of course, my male counterpart, first overall, twinkle toes Jason Lantz, had probably run the course, swam the lake, sampled three beers, and hit the road by the time I dragged my butt across the line. Yes – VHTRCers, I know how you like your post-race beverages, and this race will not disappoint in that area as well! Plus, finish line grub was provided by “The Happy Belly,” and included an array of good foods (veggie friendly, too!) and homemade pies.  

Lengthy post-script: I was a last-minute entrant, and I thank Scott profusely for letting me run. A bout of cellulitis (for which the bacterial species still has not been identified) landed me in the ER the week of Vermont 100; I also became anemic during this time as well. I was able to “run” Vermont, but shortly after, was further diagnosed with Lyme’s disease. I have been undergoing homeopathic treatments, and each week, can feel myself getting stronger – yet still struggle to feel good beyond 20-30 miles. The pain is difficult to describe – my legs do not feel weak, it is more of a deep, internal fatigue, plus some general nausea. And very sore gluteus maximus muscles! So go ahead, the next time you see me on the trail, kick me in the ass – it’s already sore, the kick may even help relax them!

[Editor’s notes: Jason Lantz, former winner of MMT among many other races, not only won the 2016 Twisted Branch 100k, but his time of 11:06:54 beat the second place runner by over 2 hours and 15 minutes!  Report author Kathleen Cusick finished sixth overall and first woman, in a time of 13:57:57, with the second place woman coming into the finish just over an hour later. There were 42 finishers out of the 90 starters.]

Twisted Branch Trail 100k website

2016 Results