About two weeks ago, in a moment of inspiration, I decided that I should run a race soon. I looked around to see what I could do and saw the Endurance Society had a wide selection of distances to run at Infinitus – 8k, 88k, 888k, marathon, 48 hour, and 72 hour. Since I’ve only been really getting my training going the past 4-6 weeks I decided an 88k might be I’ll advised, as it was more than my weekly miles, but a marathon would be great since anyone can do a marathon with enough sticktoitiveness. As I would find out that as true as that statement can be this was not your ordinary marathon.
Infinitus Festival Area
One of the things that makes all Endurance Society events special is the atmosphere of camaraderie that is always present. The races generally have a good base following from the days of the Death Race but it is not a closed off group that doesn’t welcome people. This event, like many of the Endurance Society events so far, allowed camping a few yards from the start and finish line at the Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen, VT. There was somewhere in the range of 100-200 people camping there (very rough estimation, not fully shown in photo) and they only charged $12 no matter how many nights you stayed.
They also offered up 3 outdoor shower heads with actual hot water. You read that correctly – hot showers for no additional charge. I had actually brought along my Coleman Hot water heater with shower head setup because I knew it could be a long 2-3 days with all the deet I would be spraying each day. I ended up not needing to use it for showering but it made making instant coffee in the morning a little easier.
Through out the days there was a main aid station at the start finish area that you could go munch on the snacks whenever you wanted and at lunch time on Saturday (main race day) there were free burgers and veggie burgers if you wanted them. The final thing to point out at the main festival area was that there were 6 bathrooms – 2 indoors and 4 porta potties – this seemed to be a perfect number for the event size. The lines were never more than a minute or two during peak times such as first thing in the morning or right before the races would start.
Infinitus Aid Stations
One of the few areas that could use a little improvement would be the frequency of aid stations. They were all well equipped with most basic things you would want but there were only 3 aid stations. Because of the heat, it would have been great to have 2 more stations but it’s hard to make last minute changes just because the weather doesn’t play nice. I decided to skip the 7 mile aid station (at the start/finish area) because I was feeling good and on a roll which was a huge mistake. I underestimated the weather and course difficulty which had me running out of water around mile 11. It was a long way to the 15 mile aid station which was very well run with ice and ice water along with snacks, gatorade, etc. The one thing I would have wanted that they didn’t have was flat coke. I don’t normally drink much caffeine and should probably carry some of my own in GU form – I like to use it as a pick me up in these longer races at the later aid stations or if I’m dragging really bad. The final, and third, aid station was a welcome sight at mile 20 as I had managed to drink most of my water since temperatures were reaching into the mid to high 80’s. I probably should have eaten some more food or drank pickle juice but in my head I figured the race was over soon – that was wrong.
The course was very well marked for such an in the middle of nowhere type trails. It must have meant days or weeks of hanging signs and ribbons on the 50+ miles of trails that the different races used. I only heard of a handful people getting confused which is pretty good for long races in the woods. I personally never saw any places where I had to think much about which way to go.
You can either read the next two paragraphs if you like words or see the GPS data here. The marathon course consisted of two loops forming a figure 8 (hint: infinity) as I think all the other distances did too. The first loop was 7.2 miles that started with 1k elevation in the first 3 miles and then gradually worked it’s way downhill with a few bumps back to the main start area where you would find the first aid station and start your second loop.
Midway through the second loop is where I think everyone that struggled during the race, started to fall apart. Around mile 17 any confidence I had was just about gone with the second large climb of the day. Another 2 miles with 1k elevation at that point had me questioning if I would be finishing the race. The downhills generally make up for the uphills if you pace yourself properly but this did not seem to be the case. The downhill was only slightly technical but hard to open up your stride too much and took more energy than I thought it would. By the third aid station at mile 20 I wanted it to be over but rationalized it was just 6 more miles and went on. It was the longest 6 miles I have ever “raced” in. I also said to myself it was only 6 more miles but had a feeling there would be an additional Weinberg mile added onto the total, ended up only being .6 more than a normal marathon.
And finally for the course is Andy and Jack’s joy for making things a little more fun while your are on the trails suffering from all sorts of exhaustion. They added several odd things randomly on the course like creepy dolls and masks. The good thing I realized about most of these is that they were usually within a mile of the main area so they were little signs you were getting closer. When I realized that I was on the end of the second loop and the end of the race was near I became so happy to see a creepy rabbit doll in front of a mirror in the middle of trees full of eerie masks.
I don’t like thinking about anything related to finishing a race such as medals or other finisher comforts until I know it is over. I had barely looked at the shirt I had gotten the day before until when I went back to shower and get changed. It is an oddly nice shirt with it’s stand out selection of bright yellow printing on dark green shirt, it’s also comfortable enough that I might wear it one day instead of donating to goodwill. The medals you get at the finish are simple with the Endurance Society name and logo on a large medal with black ribbon. The medal measures 4″ across and will stand out on your wall because of the size.
After the race was all wrapped up for me I hung around and soaked in the warm weather and friendly environment as spectators and finishers cheered in runners as they finished their distances or pit stopped for another loop on the course. The next morning after rising with the sun, as you tend to do while camping, I did get the unexpected treat of seeing the only 888k finisher, Eric Skocaj, come in around 6am as the stay puff marshmallow man and others cheered him on.
Overall it was a great way to spend a few days in Vermont and a fun race that I will likely do again, maybe even the 88k next year. I’ll make sure to bring a larger hydration bladder and train on more mountains before next years race. If you want a serious challenge you should check out the Endurance Society’s Infinitus race.
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