BreakNeck Point Trail Marathon, Beacon, New York
Elevation Gain:  ~10,000'
April 18, 2015 - As a veritable hybrid between rock scrambling and trail running, this
was an ideal way to explore a new place with people that enjoy the same kind of
challenge.  10,000 feet of vertical climbing in such a brief 42 kilometers of distance
only served to spice my intrigue and anticipation of this event.  As a near perfect
day unfolded I would not be disappointed by a run in the Hudson Highlands.

Arriving at the start by 2200 hours the night before the event, I rested soundly in
my car under a clear sky - so soundly that it took an alarm to rouse me at 0600
to get ready to go.  I seemed to be in such a stupor that it was hard to wake up.
Quickly dressing, collecting a bib number and running up the initial gradient into the
woods to loosen a bit, perhaps a hundred and twenty of us were off by 0700 after
a little socializing with friends and others.  Temps were already mild with a hint of
warming, so I dressed down in anticipation of a warm day.

The field largely took off uphill at a tempered race pace.  I held back a few steps
as I measure my starts now and don't consider any of these as "races".  The first
couple miles climbed gradually on service roads and single track, across one stream
and around mud holes.  It was comfortable and very pleasant.  By the time I reached
the top of the first climb I was finally awake enough to realize that I had put my
shorts on backwards.  Amused that it took me this long to discover my wardrobe
error I quickly dropped my shorts and did a quick switch-a-roo with those behind me
distant enough not to have witnessed my quick strip in the woods.

                          Picture of Melissa Woods shows the "trail" of the Breakneck course

Proceeding off the top, the damp rocks proved a bit too slippery for the old pair of
Salomon's I chose to wear and I lost my balance, skinning my flank and hammering
my rotator cuff in a quick bouncy fall.  Ouch.  The shoulder would be bothersome for
the rest of the day.  At the bottom of the hill we crossed Highway 9D and restocked
at the first aid station before beginning the hand-over-hand scramble up to the event's
namesake, Breakneck Ridge.  This was the best part of the day for me.  Choosing a
line and executing for an efficient ascent, I thoroughly enjoyed the hands on scramble.
From the 5-mile point to the finish only one person would pass me and remain ahead
for the rest of the day.  Any ground I lost on the field was during the initial five miles.
I ran the race to my fullest level of fitness and enjoyed catching dozens of folks as I


     The top of Breakneck Ridge offered a reward of an expansive view of the mighty
Hudson River.  While I paused several times during the day to look across the valley
and consider its beauty and history, I did not bring a camera, purposefully, and 
continued forward with my focus on covering ground efficiently. All the photos here
are file photos with thanks to others for preserving my memories thus.  The next
ten miles took us on a loop through the second aid station twice.  I moved well both
up and down, continuing to pass others along with another guy with a similar game
plan.  This brought us back to the start at the Settlement Camp where those running
the 25K would conclude their day while the marathoners turned and proceeded out
on the last loop.  It took 4 hours and 17 minutes to run the first 25K, compared to the
leaders time of 2 hours and 45 minutes.


Heading back out in temperatures that were heating up, I felt fine, running well within
myself as I headed out for the first ascent of Mt. Beacon.  The upper portion of the
ascent was steep with a requirement for some scrambling once again.  My lack of
both trail and hill training first became evident here as my pace slowed.  By the
top at 17+ miles I was tired and overheating in the full noon day sun.  Some GI
distress cause me to make a couple unplanned side trips into the bush.  I was
expecting cramping from losing extra fluids this way, but it never happened.  The
following mostly undulating four miles across the top of the ridge north of Mount
Beacon took its toll on everyone.  I was out of fluids and dehyrated far before I 
would have hoped.  Others seemed just as distressed and concerned.  My advantage
was that I can find potable water in the mountains and am not afraid to risk drinking
it, while most of the others refused to drink wild water.  I drank most of a half 
gallon of refreshing clean spring water, without a hint of any problem, before
reaching the next to final aid station at the base of Mt. Beacon.  Having experienced
both heat exhaustion and heat stroke before I am certain I averted heat stroke by
rehydrating and cooling my core temperature along the way.  Besides, the water
from the little streams I drank from was absolutely delicious.


From the base of Mt. Beacon the trail climbed 1300 feet in 1.8 miles before descending
the final 2.5 miles to the finish.  The steady hike up the mountain was wearisome
in temps that reached over 80 degrees.  The hundreds of local hikers climbing the
peak detracted from the experience for me.  For the most part, I did my thing as they
did theirs.  I carefully descended the other side and eased back to the finish without
pain or duress.  It took me nearly as long to do the final 12 miles as the first 15,
finishing in over eight hours, compared to the winner's time a bit over five hours.

It was one tough, and may I say brutal, marathon, especially the final loop.  Very
enjoyable though with so much climbing and the need to scramble.  Ruins from both
the time of the Revolutionary War and abandoned mansions built throughout the
mountains in the last century frequently stirred my imagination along the way.  With
so much history I'm curious to investigate further before I return here to do it again.

Super creative route design by director Ian Golden.  Thanks to the volunteers and
especially to the spotters.  Enjoyed seeing some friends and acquaintances from 
previous adventures and meeting some new and interesting folks.  Didn't hang
around as I moved down to Maryland to do a hike on the Appalachian Trail the
following day.