You can’t say that people were not warned in advance! The forecast called for hot weather. The race predictions called for slower times. The racers and trekkers were ready, well trained, wearing cool clothing, and carrying cool beverages.
Still, no one was expecting this kind of heat!
“It was a brutally hot day, and brought me to my knees (literally!) at the finish, said second-time racer Norwood Styles. “I almost stopped halfway up Pok-O! Shaking, stumbling and dizzy!”
“Not sure which was tougher, this or 2013,” said racer Karen Lounsbury, referring to the opposite extreme, the cold conditions which forced her, and 20 others to drop out of the race three years ago. 29 did not finish this year in the heat. Lounsbury finished.
One person who did not seem at all fazed by the heat - and he may have been the only one - was 21-year old AUSTIN HUNECK, who repeated as overall race champion, and appeared to still have plenty left in the tank when he crossed the finish. “I certainly wouldn't say that I felt fresh at the finish by any means, I guess I probably felt good compared to a lot of other people, but I think my body deals with extreme weather pretty well and I wasn't completely cooked.”
Huneck’s 11-minute margin of victory was one of the largest in race history, as he overtook 2013 winner Jan Welford with just over one mile to go, and cruised up the final mountain. “I knew if I paced it well I could have a good Sugarloaf to Pok-O-Moonshine split and would make up a lot of time, so that's where I made my move. I didn't catch Jan until the base of Pok-O and I know how strong he is, so I wasn't confident I had it won until I was at the finish.”
Click READ MORE to view the rest of the article
Welford spent the first half of the race locked in a duel with co-favorite Jeremy Drowne, the 2015 Pond Sprint and 2016 Plattsburgh Half-Marathon champion. “I was excited to see how my trail experience stacked up against a fast road runner," Welford reflected. "Jeremy and I took it out way too fast for the conditions, and we both paid for it for the second half of the race. Austin ran a very smart race--by the time he passed me I was cooked, and he put 11 minutes on me during the climb up Pok-O! But he's clearly running well and could've matched our pace at the start and still taken the win easily.”
Drowne ended tied for third with 1997 champion Mark Corell. 2016 marked the third consecutive race that Corell wound up in a podium tie. Nathan Brand and Tim Gibson, each assessed penalty time for slightly missing the Rattlesnake checkpoint, rounded out the fastest five.
(SEE FULL RESULTS)
As much of a blowout as the men’s race was, the women’s contest was razor thin, with PATTY HURLBURT hanging on for a 13-second advantage over race rookie Sarah Duclos. Hurlburt, more than twice the age of the runner-up, used the experience of past Patch Sprints, and BEAST training, to win this event for the third year in a row. Roseanne Van Dorn was the only other women’s competitor to break the three-hour mark.
At 222 pounds, and in this heat, the performance of Clydesdale winner LIAM DAVIS was extraordinary. The Willsboro, NY native clocked in at 2:33:38; his weight-handicap net time was the second fastest in race history. “I was definitely hit pretty hard by the heat. I may have over-compensated though and started off a little too slow on some of the faster sections in-between Bare and Rattlesnake, and coming back on Reber Road. I got a little lost right before the tunnel going under (Interstate) 87, and probably lost about a minute trying to re-find the trail. Going straight up Pok-O was a tough way to finish, but it was an amazing thing to experience that rush of post-race emotion on top of such an incredible mountain, with such beautiful views.”
As if the Patch Sprint weren’t tough enough, Davis followed it up with a one hour, 38-minute half marathon Sunday in Burlington, VT. “I felt surprisingly good in it. I was a lot faster than I expected to in the heat, so I was very pleased. My legs are really feeling it today, but I now feel confident in knowing that I can do both the Patch Sprint and the VCM again next year!” 255-pound Andrew Chalnick finished 2nd in the Clydesdale division.
As always, there were great performances young (NORA WOOTEN repeated as Kindersprint champ, sharing the spotlight with her brother SAM)…. old (81-year old Bob Andrews, first to start and last to finish, inspired everyone on course with his perseverance and positive attitude)… and every age in between. Certainly one racer of note was first-time Patch Sprinter Bill Hoffman (left), who ran the entire course in sandals, and still wound up with a top-10 overall time of 2:45:40.
With contributions from over 30-volunteers, and nearly 11-thousand dollars raised for Adirondack Scholarship Foundation, Patch Sprint has become much more than a race. “What Greg (co-founder Henderson) and I have witnessed over the past two decades is truly astounding,” said event manager Tim Singer. “When we first ran this, people thought we were crazy! Now there’s a whole world of people who come each year to run, trek, raise money, and see friends— and they call it the highlight of their year!”
Mark your calendars: May 27, 2017! Who knows what PS17 will serve up but, judging by this year’s performances, the still sacred two-hour barrier could fall. “I certainly do think a sub-two hour time is doable given some reasonable temperatures,” said the champion Huneck, “and I think it will happen soon, as the field keeps getting deeper and more competitive with each year”