When: Early March
Cost: ~$35-$40; refunds offered if you drop before a certain date!
Terrain: Single Track/Double Track/Some Road Sections
Weather: -50F to 100F. Just kidding, it’s Pennsylvania in the end of Winter. Anything can happen.
Last year when I did the Naked Bavarian 20 Mile, our crew piled into the car and headed down to Pennsylvania early in the day to beat an impending snow storm (we hail from good old Upstate NY).
We ended up hitting the storm half an hour into our drive and battled it the rest of the way to our hotel. Our projected 4.5 hour drive took a whopping 8.5 hours, and I nearly wet the car 10 times because we were deathly afraid to pull off the highway.
The one time we did stop, at a roadside rest area, all of the port-a-potties had holes cut out of the sides so you could see the person next to you (seriously, the entire row). And then a tree almost fell on the car.
Ironically enough, when we got to the event that year, there was no snow. None. The weather was chilly, but gorgeous. This year, we were not so lucky.
The drive was a breeze. No bad weather, we had no issues. We stopped plenty of times and I was more than happy to take full advantage of the McDonald’s restrooms.
The morning of the event, however, was another story. We had four inches of snow. The drive to Blue Marsh Lake was a bit treacherous; the plows hadn’t made it through the area yet/snow was still coming down. We took it easy and left early, so thankfully, we had no issues.
Shockingly, there were still a large number of folks that showed up despite the weather. I think close to 400 people were running (including 20 mile folks). I love the determination of people in the north. All of you are awesome and inspiring. Keep on keeping on.
The first lap of the course wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The front-runners blazed a nice trail; the snow became a neatly packed little trail which made running a breeze. The course looked absolutely gorgeous.
I cannot stress this enough. It looked like something out of a postcard with the freshly fallen snow. I was geeking out so hard I nearly fell multiple times. It was so worth it.
The hills weren’t nearly as bad as I had remembered. Trekking poles would have been super helpful for the steeper parts to maintain balance, especially on the downs. I started grabbing fallen sticks after a while and using them to help me down on the steep parts to avoid sliding into the next person. No one likes a human avalanche.
The course is kind of like a lollipop. It goes out for 5 or 6 miles (loose measurements), loops back on itself, and then follows the same path back in. This part was pretty torn up by the end of the first loop; it started to get really muddy and a bit slick in some spots.
Having trail shoes was really helpful.
Someone made some snowmen at the start/finish which was pretty neat. I had to force myself back out for a second lap. I thought my husband was already way ahead of me and felt guilty because I thought I had missed him. Turns out, he had dropped after one lap and was already warming up in the car.
I saw my mother in law on the way back out. She was cheerily chatting away, per usual, looking quite chipper.
I became super envious that she was almost done. The second lap wasn’t nearly as much fun as the first. The weather warmed up so the snow was melting off the trees… And onto the runners. I yelped a few times when it hit me. Not a nice move nature.
Heading back out on the course was tough with so many folks coming back in; things got pretty slick over the morning. I had a rough time on the downhills, especially trying to get around folks who were coming back in. The downed sticks helped a lot though.
The course never really opened up; I was always near people, which was pretty nice. I enjoyed the company though folks weren’t really talking all that much.
I was a bit worried about the cutoff with the conditions. The race director said the park wanted everyone out an hour early, which meant we only had 10 hours to finish the course. He did give an option to start an hour earlier at 7AM, but we didn’t get in early enough for that.
By the time I reached the end of the lollipop on the second lap, the course was pretty tore up. My ankles and hips were pretty sore from trying to stay stable; it took about a week to fully recover back to normal. I realized I had a time cushion before the cutoff so I slowed down a bit and decided not to push it too hard.
This event was one of my final long runs before Georgia Death Race.
Despite the conditions this year, I absolutely love this race and would happily do it again. It’s inexpensive, has super well-stocked aid stations, and a great group of volunteers. The elevation isn’t too crazy and it’s fun to get outside towards the end of winter for an event.
You even get a little souvenir when you finish. Not bad for the price tag.
I’m sure we’ll be back, probably with crampons and trekking poles for next year. Based on our track record I’d say we’re due for a warm year next time. XD Here’s to hoping!
Did you run Naked Bavarian this year? What about other courses in the Uberendurance race series? I’d love to hear about your experience.