By popular demand, more photos less whining about me making the same mistakes for the bazillionth time.

Sometimes you have to start at the end.

The Course

Phunt is a trail race held at the Fair Hill Nature Center in northeastern Maryland. This was my fifth Phunt and the fifth different course that I’ve run there. It was mostly the same trails, however they reordered them a little bit. My watch measured the course right at 31.1 miles with 4,025 feet of elevation gain. In prior years, I’ve seen 30-33 miles so you never know exactly what to expect. Well, besides cold temperatures. It started about 15 degrees and got all way up to 22 degrees by the time I finished. But the race is in the middle of January, so you shouldn’t expect warm weather.

This year they changed up the start times. Instead of a mass start at 9am, each race had a separate start time. The new for 2022 50 miler went off at 5am, the 50k at 8am, and the 25k at 9am. With COVID raging through the area, RD extraordinaire Carl opened up the option for 50k and 25k runners to start 5-30 minutes early. I took advantage of the soft start to head out at 7:40am once I had everything ready. While the first mile is on fire roads, it was nice not to have to fight any crowds once I got to the single track trails. The only issue is that I got passed pretty consistently for the next 20 miles. It was a small price to pay though and I would love to see more races move to a soft start. The mass start is nice and all, but most of us aren’t out racing anyone besides ourselves. It’s nice to just get going as soon as you’re ready instead of waiting around for an official start.

AS #1. Speed should really be checked by sun dial.

The aid stations were excellent as always. This year they were at miles 4, 8, and 11. The awesome volunteers looked like they were having so much fun, I think I’ll join them next year.

Third aid station always has a new theme. This year they went medieval on us.
The trails are not very technical.
This hills are mostly chill.
The course is ridiculously well marked. Over marked really.
There are a couple short boardwalks to get your feet off the frozen ground.
This is just past the first aid station at about mile 5.
Who said Christmas spirit is dead?
Course literally runs through the McCloskey ruins
As well as the smaller Strathorn ruins.
There are several large bridges. This one right before AS #2.
Here’s another one.
Icy slide through this tunnel.
Some of the trails were next to roads.
And some short sections through open meadows.
Largest meadow was only a couple miles from the finish.
I’m not sure about this sign, but the runners were definitely on something.
The largest hill just past the second aid station.
JK. It’s a half mile further on and goes straight up.
This is what happens when you don’t train for a race. Don’t be this runner.
Here’s the home stretch. Half mile to go.

The abridged version of my race was I had a great day. Not so much from my performance than from a fun standpoint. I hadn’t done a lot of training heading into Phunt so I wasn’t expecting a fast time. And sure enough, my fitness started ebbing after about 10-12 miles. Luckily, I have a lot of experience with grinding out miles. I kept my effort low and just enjoyed a walk (with occasional run breaks) in the woods.

The key to my enjoyment was dressing appropriately for the weather. At no point after the first couple hundred yards was I anything but comfortable. Luckily, I had an opportunity earlier in the week to try out my race gear in similar temperatures and my 3 layers with glove/mitten combo worked to perfection.

If you like cold weather trail running, then I can’t recommend Phunt enough. It’s just an exceptionally well run race.

If it wasn’t obvious yet, sane runners need not apply.