Hudson Highlander XVI. Routes:
1 - Jackie Jones
2 - Trail run
3 - Rockhouse
4 - Lake Welch Beach
I was fortunate to run into Paul Regan, Craig Weber, Bob Bullions and Dean Sturtevant at the start of the scramble section, directly after the road crossing at #3, and did the rest of the Jackie Jones map with them, going to CDEF on the scramble. A mixture of relatively slow jogging and walking, managing some significant back soreness. Precision navigating, although I was glad to be with those guys on F, where I was stopping short and looking around and on 8 where I was feeling a bit fuzzy about it. Ran into Glen going the other way after E, and Phil going the other way as we headed along the road the last bit into 9. Phil reconsidered and joined the pack for that little bit. At the aid station, Paul left us and headed on the Lowlander, Phil dashed off ahead, as did Craig. After the long laurel slog around the lake part of the trail run, Dean dropped back and it was just me and Bob, and shortly I couldn't run anymore without my back clutching up, so we walked most of it. Only a few people passed us, though, maybe because we were already pretty far back. First Fred Reed, then Ken Walker.
We stopped to eat and drink, and our group reconvened a bit, with Dean catching up and Craig waiting for us. I almost lost them, though, when I went back to the car and ditched my contact for the glasses, since it had dried out some.
Off to Rockhouse, now with just three as Dean dropped back again. Very sweet legs to 16 and 17, then the difficult thick hillside down to 18, where we found Bernie and Alec and ran into Fred Reed again. King of the Mountain leg at a stately pace. Heading to 20, Bernie, Alec and Craig got almost out of sight, so I had to jog for a bit to catch up and lost count of how far we had gone, as we ended up going a bit too far, but maybe lost only about 30 seconds as we got saved by Bernie seeing the green patch below the control. This was around my lowest spot. Had another gu, and thought about bailing out, or at least about not coming back next year. Not really helping with the navigation here, but just hanging on. We probably dropped 5 minutes on the EW trail trying to decide where to jump off, which is where Fred Reed got ahead of us, but no problem once we got going. Got my second wind leaving 21 and led a good part of the long way down to 22, angling over near 24 on the way and taking the long way down the spur. Sharon caught up near the end of that leg when we stopped to try to figure out how far we had gone at one point. By 25, Sharon and Fred were ahead of us but in sight.
Thought about stopping at 26 and getting burgers or something, but Sharon was not far ahead and Craig steamed right through chasing her, so I hustled along after Craig with Bob on my heels. The group got together midway between 27 and 28. Bob was last to 28, but then first to 29, as we stomped through the marsh there to get to the flag. I hustled out of there and down the slope, and was first of the group to 30. Got hung up a bit in the smilax above 30 and re-joined Craig and Bob. Right of 28 up the road, and approached 31 through the laurel from the East, with a lot of folks in the area, including Fred Reed not far ahead. Around to the left, and the rest was easy, keeping our group of three together.
Probably the best my legs have done at a highlander in many years, because I was able to run so little, but my back was plenty sore and kept catching a bit when I was going too fast. Nice to have company. Craig was really strong and really accurate, easily the best of our group.