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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Race Report: The Great Underground Trail Series - Race #4

On Sunday morning, I headed off all by my lonesome to represent HATR at The Great Underground Trail Series - Race #4. The 7-mile trail race was held at Watchung Reservation in Watchung, NJ and hosted by Iron Pete Priolo, Ironman triathlete turned ultrarunner. It took me about an hour to get out there from Hamilton, having trekked out 206N to 78E. When I arrived I was surprised at how many people had showed up for this "unofficial" race. I'd say there were about 30-40 runners at the start. After some quick announcements, Pete literally dragged his foot through the dirt and then proceeded to point out the starting line.

A few moments later we were on our way. Going into this race I really had no idea what to expect other than hills. That's why when we ran the first 2 miles in mostly flat or downhill trail I become a little worried that this was just setting us up for the rest of the race. After making our way around the aptly named Lake Surprise, we turned it uphill and then out past the "deserted village"'s actually not as scary as it's name but it certainly was a little odd to these deserted houses in the middle of the trails. Once past the houses, the trails narrowed again and we went back in and started to climb some decent hills. After about 3 miles of ups and downs along the powder marked trails we came out along the edge of a river and continued to climb for about another 1/2 mile or so before coming upon a beautiful waterfall. I took just a second or two to take in the sights before running back off into the trails. It wasn't long after that before we hooked it back up one last huge hill to the finish.

Before the race I met up with John Otten, of John and I discussed the possibilty of getting our respective groups together for a run sometime over the summer. One possible venue may be Six Mile Run Park, in Somerset County. Stay tuned for details...


  1. Nice job on the race. How did this compare to the races we did in Reading?

  2. In terms of degree of difficulty from a hills perspective, I'd say if Reading was an 8 out of 10, then this race in Watchung was probably a 6. While maybe one or two hills reminded me of something I'd seen in Reading (especially that last one up to the finish line) these were much fewer and farther between. Also these trails, while tighter, were much cleaner than the ones out in Reading -- no bushwacking!!! Of course, nobody was standing in the middle of the course offering me a cold beer either so you have to give and take I suppose. :)

    I'm told that the trails we ran yesterday were much more runnable than the trails at South Mountain, also in Watchung. I'd like to get out someday with the njtrailrunners group and check out South Mountain.

  3. The race was a hit. I appreciate running in the area of the Watchung Reservation and having it so close to my house.