Five days from now on November 9th at 11am, the gun will go off in the Shawangunk Mountains to start one of the most picturesque races you can find in the Mid Hudson Valley: the After The Leaves Have Fallen Josh Feldt Memorial Half Marathon (formerly 20k) organized by the Shawangunk Runners. The competitors will traverse many of the spectacular carriage trails throughout Minnewaska State Park with highlights including Lake Minnewaska, Lake Awosting and Castle Point which offers incredible views of the Hudson Valley. It is easily one of my favorite races to compete in and a great challenge to complete before winter gets under way.
As of now, the forecast is calling for chilly temps in the high 40s to low 50s most likely with some clouds since there is a chance of showers later in the day. Having spent so much time at Minnewaska one piece of advice I can offer is that there is definitely a microclimate up in the mountains so do not be surprised if that forecast changes a bit once you get up there. You may want to have a couple of wardrobe options depending on what the weather turns out to be at 11am. At least it does not look like we will get the wintry mix that we experienced last year.
And now for the course preview. Take note that the course has changed, mainly at the beginning and end, compared to the 20k course. Disclaimer: I do not have a GPS watch so the mile estimates are close but not exact. Here is a link to a map of the park to follow along.
This year the race will start near the upper parking lot at Lake Minnewaska as usual and will head out clockwise around the lake to the large picnic area, roughly half a mile before looping back past the starting area. This first mile will have a relatively short hill up toward the picnic area and then it will obviously be down back to the starting area. From there you will go downhill and make a right onto the Upper Awosting Trail (green blaze). This will take you about 3 miles to Lake Awosting on a gradual but steady incline with a handful of flatter and downhill sections to catch your breath. When you reach Lake Awosting, you will turn right to circumnavigate the lake counterclockwise (black blaze) which is another 3 miles. There are a couple of rollers around the lake but this is a good place to cruise saving some energy for Castle Point. You will also want to pay attention to your footing as this will be the most technical part of the course since it is a less traveled trail compared to the others and has a fair amount of leaves and pine needles. Right now there are only a couple of wet/muddy spots mostly after you get around the lake near the "beach" area. This could change with some rain expected to come later this week. Leaving the lake, you'll be begin a gradual ascent to the Castle Point trail (blue blaze). It will be a right turn when you reach the Castle Point trail and this will be the hardest section of the course. From here it is about 1.25 to 1.5 miles uphill to Castle Point with the latter half being more steep than the initial climb. Enjoy the views, grab some water and then reward yourself with about 3 miles of downhill running with a few speed bumps mixed in. It is a gentle downhill most of the time so you can really take advantage of this and make up some ground without worrying about taking a pounding. This will connect you back to the Lake Minnewaska trail (red blaze) which you will make a right to go around the lake counterclockwise for the last 1.5 miles to the finish. After the right turn and a short incline, you'll head downhill to the end of the lake opposite the start and finish area. From here you will have to conquer one more decent hill up to the picnic area from the beginning of the race and then it is downhill again for that final half mile.
It is a fantastic and challenging course for all skill levels on some of the best trails in the area so throw on your racing shoes and I'll see you there!
For more information, you can head over to the Shawangunk Runners website. There may even be some spots left so register now before you miss out!
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Dr. Greg Cecere
Your personal physical therapist, movement educator and knowledge dispenser.
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The contents of this blog is meant for educational purposes only. Momentum Physical Therapy of New Paltz and Dr. Greg Cecere are not responsible for any harm or injury that may occur due to any information on this blog as it is by no means a substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional.