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Category: Dirt Cheap Stage Race

Three Trail Runs in Three Days

This weekend I ran the Dirt Cheap Stage race in Mendon Ponds Park. This event consists of three races over the course of three days, all running through the woods. Between some favorable weather, and my training going well I put up some quick times, completing each stage of the race quicker than every year I have run the event except for 2016.

The friday night race is really just a prelude to the rest of the weekend, but this 3 mile race is tougher (and longer) than your typical 5k. I finished in 36:53 which was a little bit quicker than last year. I got a little bit of a late start to the race which meant that it was starting to get dark by the second half of the race which put me at a little bit of a disadvantage. Still the weather was nice, I felt good, and I was able to move onto the next day of running.

On saturday morning I ran the second leg of the race in 48:39 which is my second fastest time for this leg in the seven years that I have run this race. I felt good running on the trails and fell into an easy pace. Despite this run being shorter than most of the trail races I have done recently I wasn’t really able to push myself into a quicker speed for the final mile and instead just benefited from my steady pace remaining steady.

On the final leg of the race I got off to a bit of a slow start as my legs felt a bit heavy. Knowing that I had done well the previous two days I wanted to keep going strong, but the many hills on the first 5 miles of the course were really starting to get to me. In the middle of the course it gets relatively flat for a mile or two, and I really found my legs in this stretch. I settled into a good pace, and felt solid for the rest of the run. I did my best to push hard to the finish, and completed the third leg in 1:55:04, a little over a minute and a half quicker than last year.

My next race is the Buffalo Turkey Trot which is the race that I have run more than any others over the years.

Three Race Weekend

This weekend the Dirt Cheap Trail Race Series had me running the trails of Mendon Ponds three days in a row. This was my sixth time running this three day event, and the second fastest that I have been.

The friday 5k has always been more of a warm-up for the rest of the weekend rather than I race I really push myself on, and this year wasn’t any different. I finished in a slightly disappointing 37 minutes which feels slow even for trails. The friday portion of the race either got moved to earlier in the day, or to before daylight savings time because it was actually bright out at the start. Given the staggered start format most runners started (and often even finished) before I got going so the trail felt a little quiet at times. Still I got this stage completed, and still managed to finish in the top half of the field.

On day two I ran the 5.5 mile course in 51:04 a significantly quicker pace than the night before. In many ways this was the driest, most ideal conditions that I have ever seen for Mendon Ponds, and that helped contribute to my quick run, but I also improved relative to the field with a finish in the top third.

By sunday morning an overnight storm had taken away the mercifully dry and mud free trails from the day before, but I actually had my best run of the weekend. I finished the 11 mile trail run in 1:56:47, coming in under two hours for just the second time out of all my years running this race.

I felt like I got off to a steady pace for sunday’s run. The first section probably has the most elevation, and while free of mud it wasn’t as dry as it normally is. I found myself going back and forth with a lot of runners through here as we had different strengths going up or down the hills. The Northern section of the run is as flat as this course gets, and while I tried to be fast here I actually felt like I was falling behind the other runners. The final portion of the run brings back the hills, and I slipped and cut open my knee on one of the steeper downhills. This didn’t actually slow me down that much, and I found myself really trying to push the pace again on the final mile of the course.

This was probably my final trail race of the year, and my next race will be my long awaited return to the Buffalo Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.

A Weekend of Trail Running

This past weekend I returned to trail running with the three day Dirt Cheap Stage Race. While this was my fifth time running this event (2015201620172019), somehow this was only my second trail race of the year. As is so often the case, this mid-november race was largely defined by the weather.

Friday night’s leg of the race is a short run in the dark, and the weather was the most promising that I can ever remember for this event. However things went off the rails when my headlamp died only a quarter mile into the course. Eventually I came to a fork in the path, and was unable to see the flags pointing out the turn. After a short wait I followed the next runner with a working light, and fortunately he had a pace rather similar to my own so I followed him closely for most of the trail.

With under a mile to go I found my pace was slowing down, so I made the mistake of dropping back a bit from my friend with the light. The final stretch of the trail was possible to navigate without a light, but required me to slow down substantially to find the trail, and avoid tripping on the downhills. This resulted in me finishing with a rather slow time of 42:18 for the first stage of the race.

Saturday saw the weather take a drastic turn for the worse leaving us to run in a cold rain. This left the trails in a muddy mess, and while I only actually fell once I was left slipping and sliding through the entire course. While Mendon Ponds is often muddy, I have raced these particular trails well over a dozen times and have never seen the trail conditions as bad as they were on saturday. While my time of 56:33 was a little on the slow side, it was actually a few seconds quicker than my 2017 time in the snow.

Given that we received the first snowfall of the year shortly after saturday’s leg of the race, I expected sunday to be worse and was surprised that despite the cold there was no rain or snow. Given how much I struggled the day before, and knowing that conditions were going to be bad on sections of the trail, I decided to treat the race like an ultra despite it only being 11 miles.

The first 4.5 miles of the race are on the relatively drier eastern side of the park, which when combined with an early commitment to walking the uphills left me moving well and felling pretty good through the beginning of the day. The northern section of the race is as flat as this course gets, and I took that fairly quickly as well. After that the final half of the race was back in the mud which had no time to dry from the day before. I finished stage three with a time of 2:18:00 which even with my lower expectations was a bit disappointing.

My overall time of 3:56:51 is the slowest of the five times I have run this event.

With plans to be in Sri Lanka during the turkey trot there is a possibility that this may be my final race of the year, but I may do a 5k in december.

A Three Race Weekend

Over the weekend I ran the Dirt Cheap Stage Race, which consists of three trail runs over the course of three days. My total time over the event was 3:33:05 which is quicker than 2017, but slower than my times from 2016 and 2015.

Stage one of the race is a short night run which is the least interesting of the events in this race. Temperatures were colder than expected, and I made the decision to continue wearing my warm-up gear during the race. By mile three I really felt overdressed, but it was probably the right decision. To keep my feet warm I wore an old pair of shoes that were clunky and didn’t have much traction. Between the footwear, the snow, and the dark it was a miracle that I remained upright through the whole race. I finished the first stage in a pedestrian 39:53.

The next morning for stage two it was still cold, but the sunlight made a world of difference. I finished the fiveish miles in 52:17 which was four minutes quicker than I was when running in similar conditions in 2017. However it was behind my pace from the other two years, and slower than I was on a near identical course earlier in the year.

My biggest problem on the second stage was my sneakers. For some reason I used the same old pair I ran the first stage in, and the age of the glue combined with the moisture of the snow lead to some of the traction falling off before the race even began. Throughout the whole race I felt the shoes crumbling beneath my feet, and half a mile from the finish I lost the sole of my left shoe completely. Despite all this, I don’t think it actually effected my race all that much. I only had to make major adjustments on a single downhill, and me getting winded on the hills had more to do with not running any trail races since September.

Sunday morning brought better weather (and proper shoes) and I put in a much better run. I finished in 2:00:55 which is ten minutes quicker than my last time on this course, and just eight seconds behind my time from 2015.

For some reason the first 4.5 miles were the trickiest part of this race for me. The race starts on the east side of the park which is relatively dry, but also very much not flat. I was walking the steeper uphills from very early on, and knowing that I wasn’t even half way done had me leaving this section a bit concerned. The next two miles of this race in the northern part of the park are mostly flat, and while I was too tired to really attack the course, I felt that I ran solid through here. The second half of the course wasn’t particularly fast, but was less worrisome and never felt slow. The trail flattens out again for the final mile, and that was easily the best mile that I ran all weekend. I felt pretty good at the finish, and in hindsight probably should have started pushing the pace a mile or two sooner.

I felt that my running got better as the weekend progressed, but now everything is covered in snow and my running is mostly done for the year. My next race will be the Buffalo Turkey Trot which I will be running for the tenth straight year.

A Weekend running through the woods

This past weekend I ran the three stages of the Dirt Cheap Stage Race for the third year in a row. However, unlike the past two years this time around I was running through the snow.

I have never really had too many expectations for the opening 5k given that it is a trail race through the dark. This year the weather had me unsure of what to wear, and right before the race I ran back to my car to change into a pair of shoes that are not really for running and a bit too lose. This indecision on my gear was a bit of a problem all weekend actually. It ended up taking me 38:35 to finish a course that was too cold to really be fun.

Running on the trails was much more enjoyable the next day, at least until I lost my shoe in the mud during the fourth mile. My time of 56:37 was slower than last year. Part of this is due to not doing enough training, but dealing with the colder weather and the mud did not help either. For much of the last mile I was unable to really run properly as the mud required me to slow down in order to keep my balance, (and this would be a problem for the final mile of Sunday’s eleven mile run as well).

The final run on Sunday was finally an actually nice day to run through the park. However at 11 miles I know that I was going to have to pace myself, and not give the race quite the same push as I was capable of last year. As a result, my time time was once again slower coming in at 2:10:41. The first half of this run is on the eastern side of the park, where I was perhaps a bit to cautious on some of the hills, but the running was fairly easy. As I got to the second half of the race the mud once again became a problem for me. Incidentally I actually fell after hitting a root around mile 9, but once I got up it didn’t effect the rest of my race nearly as much as being unable to trust my steps in the mud.

My final race of the season is Buffalo Turkey Trot which I will be running for the eighth year.

A Weekend of Trail Running

15039668_1114279208640703_1229048688053489987_cropI ran three trail races over the past three days as part of the Dirt Cheap Stage Race. While I ran a lot this summer it had been a month since my last race, and two months since I last ran on trails.

The first stage was three mile night run in the dark of the woods. The weekend didn’t get off to the best start as my time of 35:12 was over a minute slower than last year.

14976484_1113240875411203_4716410815631143629_cropThings went a better during the five point five mile run on the second day. I finished in 46:53 which is a bit over two minutes faster than I ran this stage last year.

15003409_10211248558875664_6592918781843626877_oSunday morning was the final and longest stage of the race. And as the weekend went on, I kept doing better. I finished the 11 mile stage in 1:50:10, a full ten minutes quicker than my time from last year. The final run was also my best placement as the 65th fastest runner.

15068877_10211248697199122_8930143011209005226_cropFrom last year, I dropped over eleven minutes from my overall time to finish all three stages in 3:12:17 and the top 35th percentile. My next race is the Buffalo Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.

Three trails in three days

This past weekend I ran three times to complete the Dirt Cheap Stage race. This was the fourth, fifth, and sixth times that I ran the trails at Mendon Ponds this year.

The first stage was a three mile run on Friday night. While I have run night races before, I was not prepared for just how dark it was in those woods. Difficulty in seeing the trail, turned out to slow me down even more than the hills did. I finished with a time of 33:35 which placed me 84th and in the top 33 percentile.


The second race on Saturday morning was ~5.5 miles and followed a course similar to the Dirt Cheap race in April. This was the muddiest of the three legs, and also the one where I had the quickest pace. I finished in 91st place with a time of 49:18.


On Sunday morning, the weather was actually nice for the final run of the race. This leg was 11 miles through the woods. I decided to carry water with me after that had worked out for the Can Lake 50k. This leg took me just over two hours to complete, and landed me as 98th across the line.


Overall I had a total time of 3:23:38 which placed me in 87th place overall and in the top 39th percentile. Next week, my final race of the season will be the Turkey Trot in downtown Buffalo.