Philadelphian Perspectives is our new series in name, but a concept that has been authentic to us for the last 2 decades: highlighting the individuals who give the Philadelphia Running Community its flavor. A lot of us know our favorite Philly races, as well as bucket–list competitions for which we are willing to travel. We’ll cover all of those topics with Perspectives, hoping these accounts from your fellow runners are inspiring and relatable.
We recently caught up with Philadelphia Runner Erin Jaskiewicz for an insight, in her own words, into her experiences with this past year’s Worlds End Ultramarathon.
On June 3rd 2023 at 11:37 pm, I finished the Worlds End Ultramarathon 100k race. This was my third attempt, and first finish after two DNFs in 2021 and 2022 For those who do not know, the Worlds End Ultramarathon is a notoriously tough race. In order to register for this race, you need to first complete, at minimum, a 50k, with a high level of difficulty. The race is mostly single-track trails, meaning one person can fit across the trail at a time, and takes you through the beautiful and rugged Worlds End State Park along the Loyalsock Trail in Pennsylvania, about 3 hours north of Philadelphia. The course takes you UP roughly 12,000 ft and DOWN 12,000 ft and there is a 19-hour cut off. The race starts before sunrise and ends, for most, after sunset.
This year, the finisher rate was 64% of the 155 people that started the race.
We have to travel back in time a bit to give you the full picture of how I got to the 100k trail distance. For as long as I have been a runner, since roughly 2012, I have been a road runner. It started with a 5k (doesn’t it always?) but eventually by 2015 I graduated to the marathon distance. I never thought I would be here. Before this, I was probably the person who said I would only run if someone was chasing me. I did not participate in sports in high school or college. In general, I was not very athletic. My actual intro to running started when a friend invited me on a run along the Schuylkill River Trail, the SRT, a place, despite being born and raised in Philly I had never been before. I underestimated how hard running was, immediately went his speed, made it roughly .5 miles in then walked/ran the remainder. I remember him handing me a clementine and some sort of energy bar at the end of the run and being supportive of how far I went. I was dumbfounded. Running was HARD yet I was curious about doing it again. I kept doing it.
In 2020, as the world shut down, I found trail running. On a camping trip to Hickory Run State Park in the Poconos, while on a hike, my husband Vinny and I decided to pick up the pace for a bit. I rolled my ankle too many times to count but it was fun. Upon our return to Philly, we ventured to trails he was familiar with at the Belmont Plateau and Wissahickon Valley Park. Soon, I was running the trails on my own. Before long, we were both signed up for our first 50k. After completing the Uberendurance Boulderfield 50k in September 2020 and having so much fun, I was hooked. The vibe of the trail running community is different from that of the road running community. The runners are more laid back, there is a lot more conversation (which I love), and there are way more snacks. Sure there is some ankle rolling and the more than occasional fall but there is just something about it that kept me wanting more.
Soon enough, a friend caught onto my increased trail running and sent me a message telling me about the Worlds End Ultramarathon. I thought he was crazy after reading more about the race but on the day of registration in December, I signed up for 100k distance for 2021, it sold out in 10 minutes.
Okay, back to 2023…my THIRD attempt at the completing race. In the two years prior, the race destroyed me. In 2021, I severely underestimated the terrain. It was hot that year and after cursing the trails and thinking I was going to literally die out there, I called my race at 35 miles. I swore I would not try again. But of course, I did try again. The 2022 race weather was nearly perfect. I thought I was having a good race, but I was moving too slow and was pretty mentally and physically wiped. By the time I reached my pacer at mile 50, it was already over for me, I just did not know it yet. My race was called at mile 55 due to time constraints. Making it 55 of the 64 miles sucked, I will not sugarcoat it. I was disappointed. I would have to return in 2023.
To be continued…..next week…..see you then…..
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