Do you meticulously prepare for your races, or do you take a wait and see approach? I am talking about the non-training preparation, the logistics of ultra racing. I am generally a list, spreadsheet, go over the course map, redo the list, plan the drop bags, look at the elevation profile, change my mind about shoes, and make another list kind of guy. I’m definitely on the meticulous planning end of the spectrum. That being said, I am heading down to New York to race The North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50 Mile at Bear Mountain Park this weekend. I’ve had a look at the race guide to get a sense of what drop bags I will need and how much elevation gain there is, but not much else. I’ve been busy, and for some reason assumed that the course would generally be relatively non-technical. Well, I mentioned the race on twitter yesterday and had some quick ‘wake up and smell the roses’ feedback! Evidently this course is tough and technical! I get the sense the theme of the course is rocks – the tweets below tipped me off! I am glad that I had this awakening at least a few days before the race. I like to have things as planned as possible and know what I am up against. It’s not a necessity, but for me it helps. I will be prepared for the rough rocky sections, and won’t have the potential mental downturn when I am surprised on course that it is tougher than expected. It won’t make it easier physically, but anyone who runs knows how much the mental aspect can affect your day. So now I have a few days to frantically make lists, shoe decisions, and switch my brain from suffering over muddy terrain to suffering over rocky terrain. In the end it is the excitement of running new trails and getting to see new views that override any fear of a few rocks on the course! Your turn to type: What do you do to prepare for a race you’ve never run before? Does your approach change based on what distance it is? Do you like to have pre-run a race course or go into it with fresh eyes?