15 Jan 2011

Frozen Sasquatch 25K 2011

Author: Matt Young | Filed under: race-reports

Frozen Sasquatch, January 8, 2011, Kanawha State Forest, WV

The event lived up to its name.  Following a pretty mild week the temperature was 22 degrees as my friend Harry and I left my house for the race Saturday morning.  We enjoyed the warm drive drinking hot coffee on our way to a cold start.  Most accounts say we had 3-4 inches of snow at the race start.

As we parked the car I realized that I forgot my GPS on the charger. I use it for 90% of my runs and after a moment of panic I decided it was good for me.  I could use a low tech day and welcomed the change.  And since I’ve run this course enough to know the distances I was pretty comfortable.

I had signed up for the shorter race of 25k rather than the 50K. For the past few years I’ve kicked off the year with this event and what a great way to do it.  About 130 people showed up for the race although 160 were registered. I don’t know what kept the 30 runners away from the starting line that morning but if it was the weather, what do you expect on January 8th?

After the short road section we hit the first climb at Overlook Rock. It was a slick slog up that first climb of about .7 miles. I know the course pretty well since I’ve helped mark it the past two years and often use it for training.  My plan was to take the climbs easy and run the ridges and down hills.  It’s always kind of amusing to watch runners plow that first hill like it’s a 5k. 

Shortly after reaching Old Boundary Road Sami, the eventual 25K winner for women, blew past us like we were standing still. 

Harry and I were hanging tightly together separating slightly on the up hills and coming back together as he bombed the down hills harder than me.  Hemlock was our first decent and it’s best to describe it as a somewhat controlled fall.  It was slick and treacherous and all I can say is I’m thankful for the trees that slowed me down and kept my from crashing. 

I carried 20 ounces of water and gels so I didn’t need the aid station at the bottom but took a quick cup of water and kept going.  Back up Beach Glen, I walked most of the hill to conserve energy.  Even with temps in the low 20s with gusty winds I was getting pretty warm. I run enough in the cold to get my clothing close to what I need.  That day I was wearing compression shorts, loose fitting running pants, a short sleeve shirt and a long sleeve bike jersey, my favorite fire ball toboggan and thick cotton gloves.  I unzipped my jersey, rolled up my hat to uncover my ears and trekked up the slick trail.  Harry was right with me and we picked up Andrew from Morgantown chatting along the way. 

Coming down Wildcat was another test of fortitude and at times flirted with a total loss of control. 

At aid station two I refilled my water bottles and got my gloves wet and moved on to Johnson Hollow, the longest climb at about a mile. But it was also the last climb and from the top there’s about 6 miles of rolling ridge and good single track left to the finish.  And one more big decent.  Here’s a look at the course profile.

This was still a race and I didn’t know where I stood overall but I knew my friend Harry was right on my tail and that he’s better on the down hills and has a stronger kick than me. So I thought I had to put some distance between us with one big downhill left and a couple hundred yards of flat running leading to the finish.  So I ran and didn’t walk again.  For the most part I didn’t look back to know where anyone was. But at one point on Middle Ridge Trail there’s a hairpin turn where the trail runs parallel to itself for a short period.  It’s at that point that I caught a glimpse of several runners including Harry close behind.  I don’t know if he saw me but I told him afterwards that next year I’m wearing snow camo to blend in to the snowy forest.  It often helps to have a rabbit to chase in a race. The runners in front of me were out of site and I constantly felt like the rabbit.  So there wasn’t much left do but pace myself to run as hard as I could and hold on as long as I could.

A quick glimpse back at the last aid station revealed no one but the visibility was limited.  With only a few miles to go the fingers in my gloves had frozen so I had my hands balled up in my gloves. Throughout the race the wind and snow blew on and off making it a little hard to see at times. With stingy and watery eyes I hit Teaberry Rock and the home stretch. It’s about 1.6 miles down the hill with about ½ of that distance on some steep switchbacks, a tough section.

As far as I could tell I had some distance between me and the next runner behind me. I was glad to safely hit the bottom and head for the finish. I was also glad to see a handful of faithful souls there to cheer runners across the line. Last year when I finished there was not another person to be seen.    There are some pictures below of the brave and faithful RD, Dolin, and a few other volunteers still out there even 8 hours after the gun.

My time was 2:39 and change, an improvement of over 10 minutes from last year’s time. I felt good all day.  There were a lot of comments from runners about the cold and tough conditions and such.  And it was cold and tough but I like the snow and run in it every chance I get. I did better than expected and the only thing I can figure is that maybe I like running in the snow more than others.  And for the Frozen Sasquatch you have to be in a cold and snowy frame of mind.

A big thanks to Mike Dolin for putting on a great race. It’s a lot of work for no pay and the volunteers were dedicated and very gracious.  Thanks to everyone that volunteers so the rest of us can run.

Check out the race details, pictures, reports and results at

Why not make the Frozen Sasquatch your first race of 2012….


  1. Tony Mollica posted the following on January 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm.

    I definitely agree with your comment about the weather! You can’t sign up for a January 8th race in the mountains of West Virginia and then be surprised if it is cold and snowy.

    You ran an excellent race! Congratulations!

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