2015 Worlds End Ultramarathon (50k) – Trail Crazy Review

Worlds End Ultramarathon

Surrounded by the Loyalsock State Forest and nestled along a stretch of the Loyalsock creek valley, located in the Endless Mountains region of the dissected Allegheny Plateau, sits Worlds End State Park. On May 30, 2015, this was the site of the inaugural Worlds End Ultramarathon and presented both 50k and 100k challenges.  The 50k route guided adventurers along more than 33 miles of scenic trails giving 6,000 ft elevation, while the 100k route boasted a course constructed on more than 64 miles and 11,500 elevation-gaining feet of trails. 113 trail friends and fiends made it out for the inaugural event and had the support of dozens of fantastic volunteers along the courses. Race Directors David Walker and Jeff Calvert put together two great courses and a singularly fantastic event.  CRTF was lucky enough to steal some of David’s time and we’ll be picking his brain later, along with several of the top finishers from both the 50k and 100k adventures (Be sure to check out the 10 Questions posts for more interviews). For now, let’s get to the #trailcrazy review of the 50k course.

CRTF members at the 2015 WE Ultra

A group of trail friends and fiends from CRTF showed up for the inaugural Worlds End Ultramarathon

Taking on the 50k, this was the most fun that I have had on trails.  The scenery was both varied and beautiful, with a stretch of the route winding past several waterfalls (more on that later).  After starting near the Worlds End State Park visitor’s center, I made my way up the first ascent.  Newton’s Third Law still ringing true, what goes up must go down; Trail races tend to extend that law to up and down…and up and down…and up and down some more.

The first three miles flew by and took trekkers into the first aid station (AS).  Heading out of the first AS, the course was quick to head back up in elevation climb.  Meandering along fairly run-able rolling terrain through the forest, the trees broke to reveal a picturesque lake that was the site of AS 2 (approx. 10 miles in).

Lake, Loyalsock State Forest

Lake en route to AS2 along the WE50k course

Heading out of AS2, we followed alongside a creek bed for a few more easy miles.  Having decided, rather foolishly in hindsight, to not refill my hydration pack at the last AS, I found myself out of water at the start of a long ascent (somewhere around mile 14).  My calves endured the brunt of the uphill punishment, screaming for just a few drops of high-quality H2O, while I continued to push forward en route to AS3.

Selfie leaving AS3

Hey, Who’s that trail f(r)iend high-stepping behind me?

After a quick refill of my hydration pack at AS3, I departed and headed towards yet another climb. Checking my rearview mirror, I found a fellow CRTF  trekker had reeled me in…and then continued on ahead at what seemed to me as an ever-increasing pace.  Mounting the top of this most recent ascent, I followed the course back down the other side meandering over rocks and around more trees.

approx mile 18 - descending through the trees

Winding down the trail

After my quads joined up with my calves in being pretty vocal – as vocal as muscles can be – during the descent, I was really happy to find a the course winding alongside cool running water.  Now approx. 20 miles into the 50k, I took a few extra minutes to rest and recharge the legs with a soak in the cool refreshing water.

Water feature along mile 20

Great place for a pitstop to soak and recharge tired legs

With fresher legs, after a short half-mile jaunt I rolled into AS4.  Not repeating the mistake from AS2, I refilled my hydration pack and stretched out the legs a bit.  The friendly volunteers working at the AS helped keep  spirits up while dishing out tasty treats hot off the grill.

Friendly volunteers working the aid station

Friendly volunteers working the aid station

With the sun tucking behind clouds, offering a welcomed break from the humidity, I left AS4 with less-heavy legs ready to tackle yet another incline.

part of the Loyalsock Trail

Heading back uphill

The scenic views along the way up made the climb well worth it.

scenic-view

I decided to stay behind the sign

 

While the views of  the valley below were great, the most awesome natural wonders along the 50k route were to be found around mile 22.  Here, the trail wound uphill alongside many waterfalls of varying sizes.   One I came across looked to be approx. 15-20ft high.

One of the many waterfalls in Worlds End State Park

One of the many waterfalls along this stretch of the course

As I found a few park visitors lining up and jumping off, I thought “Hey, why the hell not ?!?!”

Blake standing in front of a waterfall

Time to take a break and jump off a waterfall!

I took a break from the trek and jumped off into the pooling water below.  This was awesome!  The only thing that was missing was a GoPro to capture the leap and splashdown.

Blake post waterfall jump

Post waterfall jump #LiveTrailCrazy

As trail friends and fiends alike will tell you, life’s too short to not #LiveTrailCrazy ! And this was definitely a kick-ass detour on the trek.  Definitely the craziest trail activity to date for me; Of course, there are tens of thousands more miles of trail to cover out there.

Continuing back on the Worlds End Ultramarathon 50k, the trail led up a few sets of wooden stairs while continuing uphill.

Wooden stairs along the trail

Wooden stairs along the trail

Mile 24, Up up up en route to AS 5 at the top of Canyon Vista.

Looking out across the valley atop Canyon Vista

Spectacular view of the Loyalsock Creek gorge from atop Canyon Vista trail (elevation of 1750 feet)

There was a crowd of day-hikers at the top of Canyon Vista trail.  They lined the entrance to the AS giving the feel of running out of a team tunnel at a major sporting event.  #tunnelOfHigh5’s 

After rolling out of AS5, I headed back into the woods and made my way along the last 8 or so miles of the course.

Part of the Worlds End 50k trail

This way to the finish

While there was still plenty of daylight left, had I needed to this spot would have made for great camping overnight.

...if you had to spend the night...

…if you had to spend the night…

There were showers projected in the weather forecast, and the skies did open up with light rain for a stretch of the course and I neared closer to completion.

Almost there...

Almost there…

After the final great descent, it was a slightly sluggish sprint back towards the Worlds End State Park Visitor’s Center and the big red inflatable finish line.

Inaugural Worlds End 50k in the books

Inaugural Worlds End 50k in the books

I can’t say enough how much fun this challenge was, and I’m certain that all who shared in it would say as much.  A big thanks to all of the volunteers working behind the scenes and at the aid stations; The event couldn’t have been a success without you.  Congratulations to all my fellow trail friends and fiends that came out to take on the inaugural event.  And, of course, thank you to Race Directors David Walker and Jeff Calvert.   I hear that next year’s event is already in the works, and I’m really looking forward to taking on the 100k next.

CRTF was able to catch up with David after the event, and we dive deep into the crazy mind of a race director in the next post.

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