Landsford Canal 50K Race Report

Landsford 50K race along the catawba river in South Carolina

Gotta love that Claude Sinclair.

As a race director, Claude is one of the most unique men I’ve ever met.

There’s something about the guy – an obvious passion and dedication for “doing the runners right.” He’s proud of his races, proud of the runners, and full of all kinds of funny anecdotes and race stories from the past and present.

His races are almost devoid of nonsense - Sometimes there’s a t-shirt, sometimes not.

This years’ Landsford 50K race numbers were 4 digit race numbers, cut in half, to make two-digit race numbers.

I love that stuff.

Races built around the running, not the swag.

40 runners toe the line

40 of us are standing around looking at each other because we have no idea what Claude is saying. He’s standing there, blurting out important directions, but also holding a huge, long civil war musket rifle in his hands.

“Go this way, then turn around and come back up the hill… yada yada…”, but I don’t comprehend a damn thing except for that big-ass rifle.

One lady was hiding behind a tree.

BANG! {bang, bang, bang}          <—- that’s a written echo. Like it?

He fires the gun. Have you ever heard a musket fired before?

It shocked my entire body.

I don’t think I was right until lap #3.

Round and round they run

I always say I don’t like loops, but I think I just gravitated toward some of the ultra runners I thought were cool and allowed myself to be unfairly jaded, because the truth is – I have fun at loop races. You get to know the course and you can be a little faster than you would going point to point. The road too. I sort of bah-humbug the road a lot, but I’m learning that not only do I like running on the road, I’m actually better at it than the trails – which is quite upsetting because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the trails.

The Landsford 50K is held at Landsford Canal, a beautiful park area along the Catawba River, somewhere off of I77,  in “I have no idea”, SC.

Any race near water, is a good race for me.

The run consisted of seven, 4.25 mile loops, with an early 1.5 mile out-n-back, to make it a legit 50K.

On each loop, three of those miles where on the road, and 1.25 of ‘em on lovely, flat and fast trail consisting of wild extremes from rocks and roots, to scree-like gravel, to fluffy cedar chips – all on the same trail. The trail portion was almost 100% along the water which made me look forward to getting there all seven times.

There was one aid station, which was plenty, at the end of each 4.25 mile loop. Claude had the usual fare of candy, pretzels, coke, gatorade, water and the true mark of a Runner from Hell race, good ol’ Ginger Snaps – my personal favorite. I think I ate 47 of ‘em.

No, really…

Breakin’ it down fer ya – Loop 1

You always feel like Superman on the first loop, y’know?

I was cruising along, feeling great, and running in around fourth place. I even passed Rich Schick early.

See, I have this secret-sorta rivalry going with Rich Schick, even though he has no clue about it, but because he beats me every single race and is almost twice my age. Mad experience, Mr. Rich Schick, but “dog gone it” (as Spurgeon would say) I really would like to beat him just once.

Loop 1, as with all the other loops, went something like this:

During this first loop I caught up to the third place person, a female. I started chatting, as usual, and learned this was her first 50K, and in fact, the furthest she has ever run was 21 miles.

YIKES!

I know enough now to know when someone is going out too fast and this was most probably an example of that kind of newbie exuberance.

I backed off, and let her go.

Loop 2

On this lap, I passed the eventual second place winner as he was walking up the hill. I was so cocky to myself, “I’m running the hill, he’s walking” — but you’ll notice he ended up in second place – not me.

I’m now in third, still thinking the girl ahead of me is going to blow up; but also thinking that I have no business being up front like this.

Loop 3

Ok, now I’m starting to sorta wish a second aid station was happening. It started to get hot, and I was breezing the aid stations very quickly and probably not hydrating as completely as I should have been.

Alicia, the girl ahead of me was starting to wane and I sensed the fast start was catching up with her. At least, it was certainly catching up with me.

Right around the time I wanted to complain about being thirsty to anyone that might be around to listen, our buddy Colt, who drove us to the race, pulled up beside me, “want some water?”

A runner always knows.

I passed the girl, finally, after some leap-froggin’ and somehow found myself in second place.

Loop 4

Hot, getting tired, still in second place.

A little blood appears in my pee.

Got passed by Greg Myers on this loop.

“Rats.”

Back to third.

Loop 5

Struggling a little to keep the pace.

The combo of the heat plus a marathon road-type pace was starting to take a toll on me.

Feet hurtin’, legs tight, hot, tummy actin’ up, fartin’ everywhere…

“just keep it together Christian, two laps to go you pansy”

Put Greg Myers back behind me, putting me back in second place again, but he wouldn’t truly go away. I’d look back, and there he was in his Badwater-looking groovy white flap hat.

“Dude, fall out or something so I can slow down!”

Loop 6

Ouch.

At the end of loop5, just before the start of lap six, I got looped by the front runner, my good buddy Matt Kahrs (who won the race is 3:52). Not only did he lap me, but he also brought the fifth-ish place dude along with him – I not only got lapped, but I lost second place and was now running in third again.

“So what, I’m too tired to care about place now, just want that 5:25 I called out on Facebook.”, I rationalized.

I hit that long, never-ending stretch, looked behind me and saw no one – “Great, I shook off Greg!”

And then I hear, “you’re having a great day Christian!”

“wha…?”, “huh?” …”where in the Hell did he come from?”

It was Rich Schick. And he was looking as fresh as a daisy, …while I was slothing along like a Spring Break drunk.

“maybe I’m having a good day”, I said “but your strategy must be far better…”

“it’s all in how you look at it”, he said.

“How you look at it?”, I thought – all I’m looking at is his backside, putting more and more distance on me, and it’s not at all what I was wanting, nor expecting, to see at this point in the race.

And with that, he left your humble narrator. Dejected and defeated …and now pushed back to fourth place.

Loop 7

Good ol’ Colt ran the last lap with me.

We ran faster. I always run faster when I can “smell the barn”.

Christian Griffith finishes Landsford 50K

We didn’t catch Rich though, and I ran across the finish line in 5:05 – shaking Claude’s hand for a fine race – and setting a new personal record at the 50K distance,

…but still falling four minutes short of placing as Rich crossed the line in 5:01.

Congratulations to Rich Schick.

Proud to know ‘em, still wanna beat ‘em.

Finish line fun

Some of the best times during ultras are at the finish.

As an ultra groupie as much as a runner, I have so much fun cheering for others and congratulating them at the finish line. If I ever hold my own race, I will be one of the RDs that stands there and shakes every runner’s hand and congratulates each personally. David Horton and Todd Henderson really made a mark on me with that type of race director behavior and that’s who I would like to be as well.

A few of us disrobed and hopped in the creek – here’s some pics stolen from Claude’s Facebook page:

landsford 50K creek dip

Claude makes each runner a special, hand-crafted and unique finisher award on solid wood. What a great way to top off a great day of running through the park with loads of old and new friends. Check it:

Landsford 50K finisher awards

And that was that.

Landsford Canal 50K was a great experience. It was just the race I needed to feel confident about my upcoming White River race - 50 miles near Mt. Ranier in Washington state, in one week, July 25th.

Thanks to Claude, his lovely wife, and all the volunteers that made sure the picnic table never got empty, and who encouraged us for each and every lap.

Bravo.

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Comments

[...] race started with another one of those heart-stopping musket shots just like Landsford Canal. It’s so loud, it literally shakes your guts [...]

[...] would also have to mention the Landsford 50K as it was my fastest 50K to date at [...]

PR –> always good.

onward and upward. enjoy the west coast

Norcal next time, right? Let me know if you need help choosing a race. Seen a good number of the courses now.

Nice race, Christian. Another well written report as well.

PR HUGS to YOU!!

Good one! Sorry I missed it. Thanks for writing it up. Now I want to run it next year. :)

nice race. congrats on the PR!!!!!

Placing is external. As you know, all that we can really control is OUR OWN race. You could have finished in 1st or 1000th… with the same finishing time. But, this would not have diminished or improved YOUR achievement.

Good luck this weekend… Washington State!!! Running is an external expression of our internal self played out on a canvas of our choosing. Dance with the land, and allow greatness to occur.

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