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Category: 50K

Shawangunk Ridge Trail Run (30M)

The Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) is a 70-mile trail that traverses the entire length of the Shawangunk Mountains, from High Point State Park in New Jersey, where the SRT intersects the Appalachian Trail, all the way to the town of Rosendale, New York, where the trail ends just beyond a restored railroad trestle 140 feet above the Rondout Creek.

Along the way, the SRT passes through rolling hills, wetlands, rare dwarf pine barrens, sky lakes, waterfalls, and the distinctive white conglomerate cliffs of the Shawangunk mountains uplifted almost three hundred million years ago.

This was a completely new type of race format for me. They label it as an “unsupported” trail race which means a few things. No food, no water, and no trail markings to guide your way. If you get lost it’s your fault, and you gotta find your way back. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well here is my race report of how it went.

What went right

I made sure to diversify my food intake for this race.  I used chew blocks because you can load them in your pack.  Every snack I had in my bag I made sure to split up over the course of an hour and used a 30-minute timer to remember to eat.  Splitting up each snack made sure I was adding calories slowly and easier for my stomach to digest.  Pack was loaded with 4 scoops in the 2L bladder with Tailwind.  The GPX loaded from the race was in reverse so I edited the file down to 30M, you can find the course file I modified here on Garmin.



Water filtering for the course was pretty easy to do, I loaded my bladder to the max at the start, but next time I would have loaded it halfway and used water on the course. I timed my pain relief (cracked my shin on a rock, normally wouldn’t do anything for this distance) and caffeine (halfway mark I felt tired from being up since 12:30 AM) and they made for a comfortable energy and pain experience through the race.

What went wrong

There were a few times I was off course and then had to cross over brush.  This is what slowed me down the most but as I tell my kids, first is the worst.  I couldn’t sleep the night before as I had some pre-race excitement so I decided to leave early so I could charge my car at the destination.  I fell a few times on slippery rocks.  If it rains you will need to be mindful of traction.  The rocks were very slippery at points and only having poles would have helped to prevent some nasty falls.  You need fast feet for this course, which means jump rope and running drills as it is a rocky course.

What would I have done differently?  

Poles would be a must if it was wet!  I should have taken a picture of my kit.  I forgot calf sleeves and you need them to protect from brush in the beginning.  There wasn’t a whole lot I would change with how this race went.  I took my time where it was scenic and enjoyed the course.  I didn’t rush it, was able to locate most trail markers on only went off the trail a handful of times.  Now that I am aware of where the water refill spots are it eases my mind for next time, if there is a next time.  

I used water sources at Mile 3, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23

I used water sources at Mile 3, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23

Final Thoughts:

I just finished the book Die with Zero and it talks about the 3 things we need to maximize our life experience.  We need health, money, and free time.  There are certain experiences that we get locked out of if we wait too long to do them in life.  I was laughing as I don’t think this is a race I could do in my 70s or 80s.  This was a HARDER ultra, but not impossible.  The 70 miler might be worth taking on next year now that I have an understanding of the course.  Someone said that it was harder than Eastern States because of managing both the course and unsupported.  I believe that in the fact that is a ton of food you would need to carry.  It might be a fun challenge for next year. 


Another idea from Die with Zero is the idea of autopilot.  In most races, your brain can go on autopilot following the markers until you finish.  I think that’s why I enjoyed this race so much.  There was no autopilot, you had to be engaged.  You were always paying attention to water, food, and trail markings because if you didn’t you could only blame YOURSELF if you missed it!  That’s how life is, you can easily be going the wrong path and doing the wrong thing far too long in life.  You might think you are going the right way, but it’s only once you have traveled down the wrong path far too long you realize your mistake. In life, you CAN’T turn around!  It’s this idea of living a well-intentioned life and constantly evaluating choices.  That’s kind of what this race reminded me of.  You have to constantly evaluate your decisions in life to see if you have missed a “life marker” telling you that you should have turned.  If only life had more “markers” or signs to show you where you should be going, you may only get little hints here and there.  Autopilot is dangerous as you stop thinking, stop interacting, and stop paying attention to the beauty that life could offer only if you had gone the right way.  I add races I’ve never done every year to avoid autopilot.  What other things in your life are on autopilot?  If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you keep getting what you’ve always got.  CHANGE IT UP!  Go somewhere new, do something different, and add novelty, it’s the only thing that extends how long our life feels.  When we are in routine life speeds by, when we are doing new and novel experiences it slows down.  

I still do some of the same races every year, but I am glad for the new ones I add. They opened my eyes to the beauty and diversity of the trails you will find.  The Catskill Mountains are amazing and I can’t wait to run more races there!

Damn the torpedos! Blues Cruise 50K – 2022

What went right?
It was cold at the start so I took arm sleeves, gloves, and compression for my legs. This was my 9th time doing Blues Cruise, and I decided that I was going to throw caution to the wind. I didn’t really care if I got an age group award. I knew I had the training in the bank to PR and this was going to be the weather for it. I set the “virtual partner” on my Garmin at a 9:00-minute pace for the race. Only 4 out of the 31 miles were slower, either because of an aid station or a big climb. I was FAST at each aid station, no chatting, just grab n’ go. Things really started to pick up once I met Zach Landis. He was moving FAST, so the two of us shared some miles together pushing the pace. It was hard, but it never felt THAT hard. Eastern States 100 increased my propensity to suffer. I can hurt 10X more than I thought I was capable of. I ran with that mindset of, “this isn’t ES100 pain”. I also used music at the start and just stayed in my little world and kept grinding. Watching the pace of each mile and I kept hitting my target with relative ease and comfort. A large majority of that was related to the weather. The conditions of the day will dictate your performance in these things, and I think people sometimes forget that.

The list was light for what I carried:

This was an extremely light kit for this race. I think one of my biggest issues in past seasons is not utilizing aid stations. I tended to carry too much food/water. I would rather keep it light with just the bare minimum for weather like this. A first-time mistake is to take way more than you need, but I think I only realized that after 9 of these damn races.

Patrick Durante in Blues Cruise 50K 2022
Running with my little action cam on my head.
Photo Credit: AC Squared Photography

What went wrong?
I didn’t need my gloves. I forgot the race was cupless so I couldn’t take soda at one aid station. This was almost a perfect execution of a race, not much went wrong. My Insta360 Go2 died halfway and I missed some funny moments, that might be the extent of what went “wrong”. The camera is tough to shoot with because you have no screen. That’s why I also bring the pocket DJI camera as a backup.

What would I have done differently?
NOTHING! This was a year of a bunch of PRs and I attribute that to new running friends (Alex, Kellen, and John), a change in mindset, and gratitude to be alive and able to do this. My mantra this year is “I don’t mind what happens” and I just kept saying “Funk it! LET’S GO”! I told myself that racing is exciting but really doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things. Who cares if I bonk or blow up, it’s just another BC in the books, and in a few years nobody cares, hell a few days I won’t even care. Live in the moment! Live in the mile! SMILE because there’s only a handful of these types of races you will do in your life!

The best moment in the race for me was when someone said I was in 12th place. I knew it was only halfway and I could catch a few people. I started to visualize holding the oar. I WANTED to hold the oar! I would NOT be stopped from holding the GOD DAMN OAR!!! That just kept repeating in my mind, “OAR OAR OAR”! Does anybody need an oar? NO! WTH am I going to do with this thing?

This type of performance comes from perfect weather, good rest, and NO MENTAL DAEMONS! I had just read The Relationship Handbook, and this part really stuck out.

Insecurity is the source of distress and all counterproductive behavior. Thoughts of insecurity periodically pass through our minds. If we dismiss these thoughts, we will remain secure, our ideal selves: easygoing, joyful, compassionate and wise. If we harbor our thoughts of insecurity, we end up in a state of distress.

George Pransky

Another way of saying it is “Change your thoughts, change your world”. You actually don’t have to listen to what your mind is telling you. Realize that low moods pass. Just because you have a bad day or bad mile, doesn’t mean you will have a bad race. I kept this mindset with me the entire time and I think it paid off.

This feeling can not be described.
Photo Credit: AC Squared Photography

I have been recording almost all my races and throwing together a little montage for myself and my kids to enjoy. I do this to show them how running can change your life if you let it.