Since I was involved in the Mohican course re-design I thought I'd share some of my thoughts related to the course, the process, change, and Mohican in general.
Every change that was made to the Mohican course was debated at great length. We discussed issues and complaints from prior years, and how we might improve the race to address certain concerns. We considered how we could reduce the amount of ashpalt and course gravel road and add more trail. Many of the scenic dirt roads from years past are now ashpalt. When the race started and finished at Mohican Wilderness this wasn't a big issue because these miles were run at night when it was a nice mental break from the trails. With the new AND IMPROVED start/finish at Mohican Adventures these ashpalt road miles were now sandwiched in the middle of the race in the heat of day. This was a major issue to address. Another issue to address were all the Green Loop miles that were being torn up by the gas company, which were replaced with baseball sized gravel roads. This would continue to be an issue going forward if we didn't consider change.
As Ryan mentioned the race has experienced quite a bit of growth over the last few years. Trail running and ultra running have seen a recent boom and we want the course to be able to accomodate this influx of runners. We wanted to come up with a course that could be sustainable for years to come. The location and accessability of some of the past aid stations, and the confusion of runners going every which way from those aid stations, made it difficult to accomodate a greater number of runners. My family has volunteered at Rock Point the last two years, assisting aid station captain Julie Bowen-Miller for the entirety of the race. We spent the days leading up to the race preparing potato soup, hard boiled eggs, just to name a few things, to ensuring the runners would have everything they needed. Mohican is a passion of mine and I am happy to say that my family shares that passion with me. For as tiring of work as it is to spend over 24 hours at an aid station catering to us cranky runners, my wife said she would miss The Rock, as will the runners. That being said, they understand better than most runners the logistical challenges associated with some of the more remote aid stations. Whether it be re-stocking aid, getting volunteers to and from the aid station, getting pacers and runners back to home base after dropping, etc. Having a more centralized race we will improve the efficiency of logistics considerably and improve the aid station workers, supply volunteers, family and crew, and the runners experience in the process.
We want Mohican to be both affordable and accessable - as opposed to races that have to cap entries and as a result have to either institue a lottery or sell out in a few minutes time. With the boom of the 50 mile race we had to consider how changes would impact both events. I know some 100 runners don't like to hear that their course should be modified for the sake of a relatively new 50 mile race. That being said the 50 mile race has made the Mohican 100 sustainable and it makes the event that much more accessable. The more people we can expose to the magic of of Mohican the better. The introduction of the Mohican Marathon will only add to this exposure and hopefully put the trail ultra bug into a whole new group of runners. With the new course and the staggard start we feel we can accomplish this without interfering with the 100 or 50 mile race, or putting an increased burden on the aid station volunteers. I encourage you to embrace the 50 mile runner and embrace the marathon runners. Remember that this might be the toughest challenge they ever attempt, it should not be treated like a minor accomplishment. We should be supportive and cheer them on towards their goal! After all, trail running and ultra running is about the inner challenge, the friendships made on the trail, and the beauty of nature - this is no different for a 50 mile runner or marathon runner than it is for a 100 mile runner.
What makes Mohican special? The answer is different for everyone. Sections that one runner loves, another despises. At least one person mentioned that they would be ok with the race being all road. A few proposed increasing the cut-off limit, citing the number of multiple finishers who barely finished under 30 hours. Some said that very toughness is what makes Mohican special. As for me? Mohican is special to me because of all the friends I have made on the trails, all the great runners that have come before me, and because it gives me an opportunity to dig deep and find out what I'm really made of. A 100 mile race is going to be difficult regardless of the course. We feel like this course will simplify logistics, make the race more accessable for family and crew, and most importantly improve the runners experience.
All of this talk and I haven't highlighted the new sections of trail! I think runners will love all the new single track trail being added to the course - it's both scenic, challenging, yet very runnable. The new section of bridle trail being added, linking the course to the traditional purple section, is also very scenic and may be my favorite section of trail on the whole course. As an added bonus, those runners who go way back will recongnize certain portions that are still marked with Mohican 100 stickers from several years ago. Some might remember that the much loved (and much maligned) section on the red loop that used to climb from Covered Bridge up to Bridle Stageing was a relatively new trail itself. By incorporating the "purple" trail into the course, as opposed to it being a stand-alone loop, we ease the congestion at Covered Bridge. We're very enthusiastic about the new course and the improvements that have been made. We understand that not everyone will share that enthusiasm initially. Our hope is the feedback is overwhelmingly positive once people have had a chance to run the course, and once they've seen all the improvements made on race day.
Long live Mohican!
2x Mohican 100 Finisher