2019… my big goal for the year is sticking to the plan. Last year, I fell short of my BHAG and I’m bound and determined to reach that 100k mark this year. Part of that plan involves completing a distance of at least 50k for a long run each month, hopefully with a few 50 milers in the mix. In January, I reached that with Arches Ultra in Moab. This month, I headed to Kansas City for an icy Psycho Wyco 50k.
I had planned for a run near Bellingham, Washington, but apparently, those PNW folks can’t handle a little snow. So, I changed my flight (thank you, Delta Skymiles) and headed to Kansas City last minute.
I found this run on UltraSignUp – a very dangerous place to hang out, and my options for 50k were limited for the end of February. Luckily, MCI is an easy airport to get to from Denver on Delta (trying to burn those miles since I’ve switched to United).
Psycho Wyco 50k
The Psycho Wyco run takes place west of Kansas City in Wyandotte County, Kansas with distances of 10 miles, 20 miles, or 50k. The 10.4-mile loop in Wyandotte County Lake Park is all single-track dirt trails. But this weekend it was all ice and mud.
The area had received a few inches of wet snow in the days leading up to the run so there would be plenty of snow and ice on the course. And the forecast for Saturday was a high of 40 degrees with a good chance of rain.
Registration and bib pickup was easy enough at the Comfort Inn close to race location. I grabbed my bib and received a cheap packable cooler and a cool hoody sweatshirt with the colorful race logo. Then it was back to the hotel for a steak dinner and sleep.
With a welcomed 8:00 a.m. start time, the morning wasn’t a big rush. The start line parking is reserved for volunteers and 50k runners. All others are bused from a parking area just a few minutes away.
Psycho Wyco Course
No big fanfare at the start line – literally a staked flag in the ground. The first half mile isn’t really on a trail, but rather a run across the open field in the park. Then we jump on the single track.
As expected, our feet would not stay dry and that proved to be true starting at mile 0.25. The entire course is on dirt trail, with some areas opening up to allow for easy passing. With recent snow, there really wasn’t much mud until the third loop late in the day.
Photos above look muddy, but it was mostly compacted snow turned to ice with water on top. Picture running atop a giant sonic slushy.
There were 3 aid stations on course with one at the start/finish line. Each had experienced volunteers who were in good spirits and knew what we needed. There may have been bottles of Fireball and beer available all day. Oreos, Peanut Butter, and Coke were plentiful, so I wasn’t complaining.
50k Loop 1
On the first loop, I wasn’t looking forward to the wet feet and my toes were frozen at mile 3. There was a good pack of runners to roll with for much of this loop. The trails were rolling with a few switchbacks, water crossings, and small hills.
I had set out to make this my long training run, so the goal was to keep the HR and pace in check. The icy conditions kept my pace plenty slow. And I took the conservative approach on the climbs. Between miles 3 and 5 we found some good downhill climbs. Yes, it was slick and steep descents. More power to those who ran the whole thing.
When I made it back to the finish at mile 10, I was feeling good. And catching a glimpse of the advertised warm chili that
would should be waiting on us at the finish was a good motivator.
50k Loop 2
On the second loop, you know what’s coming. So you either dread it or head out with an ambition to tackle the challenge. In my mind, I wasn’t looking forward to frozen toes again, but at least I knew what was ahead.
On this loop, we caught up with the 10-mile runners who started an hour later. The course was icy with compacted snow. Going downhill was more of a slide than a run. I met up with a firefighting crew in partial gear (kudos to them!) on a few descents. They had to hang on to a few trees just to find the brakes.
I was having fun on this stretch, keeping things in check. At this point, my feet were wet but warmed up between wet stretches. Some light rain started, but luckily I had grabbed a light jacket from the race bag before starting. The race winner passed me in the final yards before the end of this loop. Eh, a few more hours to go!
50k Loop 3
At this point, you might as well have some fun with it. Some sections of the trail were beginning to turn to mud between runners, temps above freezing and some rain falling. Runners on the final loop were spaced out. I was looking forward to spending some time alone to avoid the temptation of pushing harder than intended.
At mile 24-ish, I stopped at the aid station and chatted for a couple of minutes while savoring some peanut butter on an oreo. I say -ish because my Garmin wasn’t accurate in the hills and switchbacks. And you never pass an aid station on the trails without grabbing at least a few calories.
The crew joked that I looked fresh and must have just started running. Either I looked like crap and they were trying to be nice, or I really was just having fun on the trails for the day. No matter the intention, it reminded me of my goal – to enjoy the day and get in some solid miles. I left with a bigger smile on my face that carried for the rest of the run, so mission accomplished.
Psycho Wyco 50k Finish
Not going to lie, when I reached that final muddy hill of the last loop, I was ready to be done. It was a fun day at Psycho Wyco 50k, but I was hungry and ready for some dry socks.
That chili and beer I had my eye on during the previous two loops were on my mind and I was looking forward to warming up. So you can imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line to find a volunteer packing up all the food. All that was left was a water cooler, a little fruit, and half a Coke. Umm…
So, I asked. Is all the food gone? Yes. We just gave out the last of it. Is there at least a cup for the Coke? You’ll have to find your own. What? I was a little confused. He said, “Yeah, some people had two or three servings. Maybe we should have saved some.
I was frustrated and luckily aware I was rungry (runner hungry), so I just turned around before I said something regrettable. I didn’t want to be that guy. My finish was at 7:29 and thought I may be one of the last runners to finish, so I figured that’s what you get for being at the end of the run.
BUT, when I saw the results online later, I was disappointed. Not so much for me, but also everyone else behind me. I finished 48 out of 80 runners. There were still 32 finishers (almost 2 hours) behind me who wouldn’t find any food at the finish. That sucks. Especially on a chilly, wet day. I get it, supplies run short. But you don’t advertise warm food and beer at the finish line and leave the last half of your field out there to “find your own cup.”
Yeah, it left a bad taste in my mouth and I’ll think twice before signing up for another run in this series.
But let’s not let’s not let that ruin a good day. I had fun out on the trails with my first ultra in Kansas at Psycho Wyco 50k. The volunteers out on the course were all friendly and ensured we had a good time. The trail was challenging, easy to follow, and weather conditions made it a good challenge.
I look forward to finding March’s long run. But first I need to wash all this mud out of my shoes.
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