Catskills Mountain 100K Recap
The annual pilgrimage up to Phoenicia for the Catskills Mountain 100k Road Race and Relay was one for the record books. Six teams (34 Harriers and two dogs) dominated this year's race -- taking home some hardware and nailing new course records to boot.
Race morning saw sun peeking through overcast skies -- but the rain that threatened to dampen the relay never materialized, and the humidity was mercifully lower than normal.
The six teams -- Harriers Meow Mixed, Team Sanjiv, Donut Babes, Harriest of All, Harri-Up and Bourbon Bosses -- had staggered starts, but still managed to see each other out on the course to shout a few words of encouragement and spread the team spirit.
Kicking off leg one for the Donut Babes was Tara Jarvis, who muscled through some dark moments on the course. After cruising in a strong showing on the opening leg, Tara admits she "went out too fast" on leg two. But when the going got tough, Tara drew on the knowledge that her teammates were counting on her. "I held the momentum because I had two Harriers running ahead of me. That was powerful, I felt like we were in a flock carrying each other’s energy." That energy -- plus a destroyed toenail -- translated into a solid 2 minute 10k PR as her teammates cheered her on.
"Seeing your friends excel in the sport is always uplifting," says Donut Babes Team Captain Kat Wang.
Also uplifting -- Team Sanjiv strongman Aaron Gaskins literally pushing a fallen boulder off a Catskills mountain road after it had blocked traffic.
This year also saw the return of an original Donut Babe: Laura "Sure I'll do a relay on ten hours notice" Kelly dominated with a 30k endeavor -- doing 3 legs as part of her Berlin Marathon training plan.
Chris Reid is a first-time member of the notorious Bourbon Bosses. "I was initially lured in on the promise of some bossing bourbon but I’m now I’m hooked by the camaraderie, beautiful scenery, great running, and friendly locals," he says.
Not one to ease into the Catskills experience, Chris faced the dreaded Leg 4 hill. "Despite all the warnings about it, it was steeper than I even expected," he says. "I’m glad I had an ultramarathon runner to chase and focus on."
Mirjam Lablans also tackled leg 4 for a second year in a row -- coming away four seconds faster than the previous year. "I'll take it!" she says. "What helped get me up that monster hill was my team. When I was dying and my legs felt like jelly, Michelle appeared out of nowhere and ran with me. Just those few moments of that solidarity and support makes a world of difference."
Chris agrees -- he pointed to the moral support of his fellow Bosses as a big motivator. "The cheering from the van really helped fire me up, too, giving me the vim to attack the hill again and again."
That spirit helped lead the Bourbon Bosses to a solid second place finish in their division.
Team Sanjiv, rocking their on-trend flannel cutoff shirts, also landed silver in their race.
It was a banner year for the Harriers -- Meow Mixed broke the mixed division course record of 6:48:55, clocking in at 6:42:39, and also coming in 1st place overall in the team races. Harriest of All came in second in this division.
First place in the female team division went to the Donut Babes, with a new division record of 7:33:02, beating the old record by over 12 minutes. "Our team went neck and neck for 1st place and it was a victorious win this year considering all the obstacles we had to overcome," says Tara.
Individually, the Harriers crushed the course as well, with fastest legs run by Patrick Jagielski, Scott Bartucca, Laura Kelly, Jenny Murphy, Jason Gray, and Michelle Hillebrand -- and some overachievers even snagging the fastest segments on both their runs: Zach Pollock, Morgan Lingar and Eduardo Brandao.
The race continues to be a big draw for the New York Harriers -- but what keeps many returning year after year are non-running related. Besides from running, the great cookoff the night before -- complete with pasta and steak prepared by Grill Master Jagielski -- there are breweries to visit and adult beverages to enjoy. And there are things to celebrate, as Kat points out: "Michelle Hillenbrand spends her birthday with us every year!"
Tara, now on her second year as a Donut Babe says, "I don’t think I’ve experienced the level of teamwork that I feel when I run the Catskills Relay. Being a part of a team of 5 other wonderful women, laughing, joking, cheering each other on...the teamwork and camaraderie that goes into a road race of this magnitude is just something I can barely put into words."
She also jokes "participation in any relay race that comes my way will be a non-negotiable."
"Three-peater" with the Donut Babes, Coach Kat agrees and notes, "I think we embody what it is to be a Harrier: We are competitive, but we try to not take ourselves overly seriously and we make sure we have fun."