This Marathon Life

by a passionately stubborn runner

The Mohican Trail Marathon

I absolutely loved the Mohican Trail Marathon. Great race with great volunteers, course markings and course features. Living in the midwest it’s hard to believe that such a beautiful course is right here in our backyards. Here’s my race experience at the 2016 Mohican Marathon.

Course elevation at Mohican Marathon I clocked 3,660ft of elevation with 2hrs41mins of ascent time over the 26.4mile distance

I was pretty tired going into the Mohican Trail Marathon. I didn’t make it to the campsite the night before until almost midnight. I was waiting on a friend to drive down to my place to meet me for the 3.5hour drive to where the Mohican is at in Loudonville, Ohio. Setting up camp in the dark is never fun and especially not when you’re worrying about waking up the other runners camping nearby.

Race bib for the Mohican Marathon But, by the time it was almost race start - I was feeling ready to go. Picked up my packet and my friend Keith bought me a fantastic cup of coffee. The Mohican has a ton of food trucks on hand everywhere during the event so you can always find something to eat. I went through my normal pre-race routine of pinning my bib on my singlet, fretting over how many energy gels I should use and going to the bathroom a million times. Then, of course going to the bathroom one more time just to be sure.

It was a pretty hot day temperature wise - I don’t recall exactly but I think it got up to 90℉. If you were at the race and remember the temp, comment down below and I’ll update this! I decided on carrying one handheld bottle and cramming around 5 energy gels inside the main bottle pocket. I put about three Nuun tablets inside a plastic bag to keep them from getting wet and shoved that inside the back pocket on my shorts. My plan was to put a tablet into my water when I refilled at aid stations to keep hydrated. The aid stations were 4 - 6 miles apart and I was a little worried about running out of water in between them but didn’t want to carry two water bottles. Thinking back, I really should of carried two water bottles. There were times when I would fill up and run out of water 4 miles from the next aid station.

Start of the Mohican Marathon Paul, myself and Keith at the start line.

The start line was surprisingly calm and relaxing. The race director came over the speaker and announced that this event had the largest number of entries of all the Mohican events. They offer a 50mile and a 100miler as well. I reminded myself that this was a training run for me and that I shouldn’t get caught up in running it too fast. Thought a little bit about how thankful I was to be able to enjoy this running life and before I knew it we were off!

The first section of the race I felt like everyone took off a wee bit too fast. People took off like it was a road race! It was on a paved path for around a mile or so but the hills were coming. People in the campgrounds waved and cheered us on as we headed for the woods. The first few miles in the woods we were facing some crushing hills. I knew better than to run up them so early on in the race. Some people tried running up them but ultimately were left out of breath then trying to just manage a slow walk up them. I was pretty thankful for my experience and for the fact that this was a training run for me and I wasn’t planning on racing the event hard.

The first few miles I noticed a runner in front of me who seemed very experienced. He was letting people pass him saying “do you want to pass?” whenever they would be close behind him. He was smart. He knew that 5 miles into such a hilly race was way too early to be “racing” all out. Turned out that the runner’s name was Rajesh and that we would end up running almost the whole race together! Raj knew the course extremely well and as I paced us - he acted as a guide. Letting me know when there was going to be a climb or aid station and asking if I had eaten anything. Raj complimented me on my pacing and said he was happy to have such a good pacer with him. We chatted about different races we’ve run and we cruised through the miles.

There’s a section of the course around mile 13 where a pack of us went down wooden stairs under a waterfall. That was my favorite part. Some runners were cooling off in the water as we passed by. After the waterfall we had to climb over a few logs and hop side to side over this river and then up a giant tree root to get out of the low section and then we were off onto the single track again. The course had roots after roots. A ton of focus was required every single second to constantly plan your next foot step. The downhills in the course felt like the descents on a roller coaster. I was a little worried that my quads were going to explode but they never did. Thankfully.

Around mile 19 - Raj and I started passing people. We would come up behind someone and Raj would say “on your left” and then I would make the move to pass and we would keep pace to make sure the pass was successful. We did this for a while. Raj was proud of how smart we had ran in the beginning to allow us this extra strength to push.

I was in the last aid station and noticed the winner of the race from last year, Nick, and asked him how my friend Paul was doing. He said Paul was in the top ten. I was stoked and stormed out of the aid station to try finish up the last 6 miles. Raj stormed out after me with his pockets full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I mainly just ate watermelon and GUs the entire race. Something about it was just so delicious. Watermelon is my new favorite race food for sure.

Miles 21-24 were pretty tough for me. Felt really tired energy wise and the heat was getting to me. Raj plowed ahead and urged me to continue pushing. I was too burnt out to keep up. The further Raj and I were apart - the louder Raj screamed. “Come on Amber! Almost there!” At one point Raj was climbing a hill up ahead of me and said “Amber! I learned this from you!” as he was taking short fast steps slowly up a hill. It made me smile even though I was feeling the effects of the miles of hills we had in our legs.

The last two miles I started to feel much better, just like Raj said I would. Out of nowhere Nick comes up behind and asks if he can finish the race with me. I was really excited because I was finishing the race with a Mohican Legend! Nick is a well known runner! We only had a small stretch of pavement to run before the finish now. Nick was mentioning how he had a tough race and some things happened that caused him to not feel so great. Even with all that he was still smiling and happy! I noticed as we approached the finish line that he had backed off to let me cross first. Nick is a class act. I crossed the line in 5hours and 7mins and received my Mohican Medal. Raj was there with a giant high-five and congratulations. Raj had gone under 5hours! I found out that my friend Paul had took third place and my friend Keith had finished in around 4hrs30mins. Everyone had a really great race. Paul and I won free entries for next year. I ended up first in my age group and 8th overall for women.

The Mohican Marathon Finish Line.Finishing with Nick

Raj and I at the Mohican Marathon finish line.Raj and I at the Mohican Marathon finish line.

After I cleaned up, I grabbed one of these wood-fired pizzas from the pizza food truck and though I normally try to not eat a lot of cheese - I ate it all besides for one piece that my friend Tor took. I regret nothing.

A wood-fired pizza from a food truck.

The Mohican Marathon medal.

Written on June 24, 2016