Fastest Known Time, Gerard Hiking Trail

This is my official report for Fastest Known Time

The run happened on 09/05/2020

Shannon Mick, Women’s Unsupported, Gerard Hiking Trail

Results

32.92 mi
Elapsed time 08:15:02
15:03 min/mi
Best mi 11:22 min/mi
Fastest pace 6:41 min/mi
Elevation gain 5591 ft
Descent 5486 ft

Route description and significance

The Gerard Hiking Trail is in Oil Creek State Park, home of the grueling Oil Creek 100. The 100 mile race uses sections 1, 2, 3, and 4 of this 5 section trail (1, 2, Wild Cat, 3, 4). Be sure not to use any connecting trails. After section 2 (the south end) the Gerard Hiking Trail continues on the Wild Cat. Wild Cat is 6 miles and has one crazy climb with a scenic view partway up.

I began the run on the north end at Jersey Bridge parking lot and ran south, keeping the river to my left. I ended the run back north at the end of section 4 as I came out of the woods under the trail sign.

Gear

Cute outfit
KingMT
Buff
Badwater trucker hat
UD Vest
COROS APEX 42mm
Garmin InReach mini (stopped tracking at mile 10, I didn’t know until after finishing for the day, it was in my vest the whole time. I don’t know what happened to the device.)

Water

3 liters in Platypus bladder

Fuel

5 Spring Energy
Baggie of raisins
8 S Caps
1 apple sauce
Banana (didn’t eat)
Baggie of cereal (didn’t eat)

This run was unsupported, I didn’t receive drinks, food, or aid of any kind from anyone. 100% on my own.

Weather

78° F and sunny with a few passing clouds.

Fun documenting the journey

I took videos during the run instead of pictures because I didn’t want to stop moving. I think videos are more engaging and I could talk about the trail and the thoughts going through my mind. Thoughts on long runs can get interesting. I enjoyed feeling like I was giving a tour of a trail that I love, if I didn’t, I would have just continued talking to myself. After halfway through, I was done keeping track and naming all the specific sections and waterfalls in the video, you’ll have to go see for yourself in person!

I combined the videos into one, which you can watch on my Instagram or YouTube.

https://instagram.com/be.short.run.ultra

https://youtu.be/XJvQyVgkhbU

See on my run and highlights

• Several tiny frogs. Most were brown, but there was an orange one and a yellowish one.

• 3 deer

• Woodpecker

• I heard growling / snarling on section 1, but didn’t look to see. Throughout the day, I heard other noises like snapping tree branches. I noticed bear tracks in mud, section 3.

• Chipmunks

• Mushrooms of many kinds. The coolest were the florescent orange ones on trees.

• Orange Salamanders. They are cute!

• Millipedes

• Some of the leaves have already began changing color for Fall and decorated the trail.

• Hikers. I saw 3 hikers twice during the day, as we were going in the opposite direction. I didn’t see anyone else running or anyone on Wild Cat.

What I learned

I goaled myself with finishing in 8 hours because for the Oil Creek 100 trail part, it is 26 miles, and when my husband and I run it together, it usually takes 7 hours and 45 to 50 minutes. I felt like 8 hours with the Wild Cat added in there would be an attainable goal. I planned to “run by feel,” as I always do, I didn’t look at the pace or time on my watch until I was ready to stop it. At the end of my run, I was pleased to see the 8:15:02 on there.

A few things happened that added up to those 15 minutes, some being sort of preventable.

• Slowing down because I was second guessing turns that I knew were the correct turns.

• Second guessing the turns on the sections that I’ve never been on.

• I became confused at the train station trying to find the trailhead because the yellow blazes that was on the telephone pole appeared to be marking that the trail would be up a gravel hill, so I went up the hill expecting to find the start of section 3. I did look around for the trailhead before deciding to go up the hill. I saw a totally different trail and the train station and that was about it. As I went up the hill, I kept in my mind that I could be going the wrong way. It looked wrong and I didn’t see any blazes, so I ran back down to the blazes on the telephone pole. I double checked them. Yes, it still looked like it was pointing up the hill. I looked harder around me and noticed the next Gerard Hiking Trail sign and blaze. I found the location of the trail odd because it was close to the train tracks and was a little blocked by some part of the station when standing next to the telephone pole. Days where the train is running, you should be careful crossing.

• Falling didn’t slow me down too much, but it happened.

• Getting distracted by random things because I was having fun. This includes talking to deer and stopping at the sludge pipe to splash water. Can’t take away having fun.

Final thoughts

It was a fantastic day! Oil Creek State Park is beautiful and the Gerard Hiking Trail is a perfect challenge. I always forget how challenging it is to run there, but it’s worth the soreness. Best wishes out there.

Happy running!

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