It’s off to Blue Marsh Lake in Leesport, PA Sunday for the second annual Naked Bavarian 40 Mile run. I did this race last year and am looking forward to running it again. The race is organized by Uberendurancesports, which puts on some of southeastern PA’s best races. I’ve done a number of their races over the years (Blues Cruise, Dirty German, Oktoberfest) and I’ve never been disappointed in how the race has been marked/organized. There are 3 concurrent races with a marathon starting 30 minutes after the 40 milers take off and a 20 mile race starting another 30 minutes later.
And no he “naked” doesn’t mean we’ll all be streaking through the woods. We would all catch a cold if that is the case. The naked here means there are no race extras (shirts, medals, bands at finish), just a marked course with aid stations every 4 or 5 miles. By doing away with all of that, I’m only paying $35 to run 40 miles. It’s hard to find 5Ks around for that price let alone ultras.
The course itself is two 20 mile loops. Well, technically it’s a lollipop course with an out and back to the actual loop. And technically the course is more like 20.75 miles than the 20 advertised, but no one ever complains too much about running a little over the advertised distance as long as you’re not going off trail to get the extra mileage. There are some modest sized hills along the route, yet nothing too extreme. My watch measured the elevation gain at just under 5k feet last year or about 120 feet per mile. Virtually the entire course is runnable if I remember correctly with only a couple decent sized hills.
Goals, Expectations, and Whatnot
I scheduled this as a supported training run, however I’m starting to think I’ll go at this fairly hard. I was partially injured when I ran it last year so I don’t think I’ll have too much problem beating my time of 8:13. I also think I have a much better handle on pacing. I’m still too new to this whole ultra thing to know if that will translate into a 15 minute improvement or 40 minute improvement. I ran the first loop well (11 minute pace), but then trailed off pretty spectacularly the second time around taking an extra 45 minutes.
I’m going to go with a similar strategy to Phunt 50k, however doubt a negative split is possible for a 40 mile race. My game plan is to run the first loop by heart rate (157bpm max) and then the second loop however fast my little legs want to take me. Twenty miles at a hard effort is the most my body can handle and doing this after 20 miles means I’ll probably be struggling semi-epically (I hope no English majors are reading this) the last 5-6 miles. I think that’s one of the cool thing about training races though. You can experiment with different strategies and if they blowup, well no harm no foul.
Overall, I’ll be happier with a strong second loop than a quick time. I think these end up being the same thing at the end of the day, but my focus is on the former and not the latter. Focusing on “fast” during an ultra will only lead to suffering, heartache, thrashed quads, death marches. . . I think you get the idea. It’s all about sustainable pacing. And for me that means running the first half of the race at a frustratingly slow pace. I’ve noticed that blowing by people in the second half of races really makes up for getting dropped quickly at the beginning. I can’t wait to see if I can execute a good run.
Do you use races for practice?