by Andy Styer
Hat 50k is a race that has been on my mind since I DNF’d it back in 2016 or 2017 ( I can’t exactly remember!) due to a rolled ankle. This year, it didn’t sell out, so I had the luxury of signing up a week before the race knowing I was well trained for a 50k on the fly. I had just completed the Naked Bavarian 40-miler a few weeks prior and was hoping to have a nice, clean race.
Well, as my luck (and the weather) would have it – no, it would be muddy like most of my races have been.
The race started of well enough. All the runners line up in a field and then launch into a 3-mile baby loop, which allows us to separate into packs before we head into the larger loop with single-track trails. I kind of held back, knowing I usually go out too fast, but for once, I had a plan. My goal was a 5:45 – 6 hour finish, which I felt was respectable for my ability as a runner, with the amount of vertical gain (4200′-5000′ depending on whose watch you believe). I didn’t use a drop bag or plan on changing shoes , socks, shirt, or anything. I didn’t use a pack, just a handheld water bottle.
At about 10 miles into the race, the rain came, and we had a steady downpour for about an hour. I knew this would be trouble for the course conditions, and it turned the nice, flowing course into a peanut-buttery, muddy mess, with the downhills being treacherous and the uphills tough to get a grip on. As I came into the end of the first loop, I passed a TON of people who stopped at the pavilion to change shoes and socks. It was a calculated risk on my part not to change, but I tend to use aid stations as a “gas-n-go” type of pit stop, topping off fluids and grabbing some food.
The second loop was fun for me, as I was passing people who don’t like mud the way I do! The trail conditions were worse than ever, and a few people I spoke with who did this race numerous times said this was the worst they had ever seen the course. I kept moving steadily while passing people the entire loop. It was a good feeling knowing I would avenge an old DNF and get some really nice swag in the process! A handheld Orange Mud water bottle, a long sleeve tee, a winter beanie / skull cap, and of course, a really nice running HAT. I highly recommend this race since it’s a well established race with some of the best volunteers you’ll find out there!
Below are my stats:
46th out of 248 finishers
4th out of 45 in the M50-59
Baby loop time: 27:29 ( 77th place)
1st large loop time: 2:33:36 (75th place)
2nd large loop time: 2:46:34
Final time: 5:47:39, 46th place, passing 29 people on the final loop!