Sunday, December 21, 2008
This year, Matt and his family put together the lodge again at Camp Daniel Boone which makes for a comfortable start/finish. Spending time with the other runners is a special part of this adventure.
More runners were at the start of this years run compared to last year. The weather was unseasonably warm, with a high chance of rain later in the day. I wasn’t expecting any aid this year and prepared myself to go the entire distance with what I was carrying with me. Almost all of the elevation gain is in the first 18 miles of the trail.
After the first few miles I found myself running alone on the trail, enjoying the majestic sun shining down on hills. I was sweating, and drinking more water than anticipated. After climbing up and down several times, the massive climb up Pilot Mountain was upon me. I think this is the hardest section of this run. This is where David Horton and Jennifer Davis passed me. I met Jennifer and her husband the night before at the lodge and heard of her new AT female record, 57 day and 8 hours. We exchanged hellos and told them I would see them soon.
After crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway the Art Loeb shares the Mountains to Sea trail briefly. The climbing doesn’t stop, and we continue to ascend up high above onto Silvermine Bald. This is where I ran back into David Horton and Jennifer Davis. From here we crossed Black Balsam Bald Road which is where I was able to get a liter of water from Matt’s mother.
I immediately threw on my rain jacket and gloves kept trucking along. The wind on the balds must have been 60+ MPH. Some parts of the trail I could not run in a straight line. It was cold, light droplets of rain would freeze and pellet me in the face. Despite the rain and wind, the view was better than last years fog. After climbing up a few balds, the wind died down, and the sun came out again. In the distance, you could see Mt. Pisgah and a rainbow wrapped around it.
Conversations with David and Jennifer about her recent accomplishment made this section of the trail that much more enjoyable. We continued along a flooded trail and ran into Richard Lilly. Before reaching Cold Mountain, we turned left on the Art Loeb and headed back for the lodge. I finished this years run in 8:53, almost an hour and a half better than last year’s time!
Length: 30.1 miles
Location: Pisgah National Forest and Shining Rock Wilderness Area (NC, USA)
Trailheads: Davidson River Campground to Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp
Highest Point: Black Balsam Knob (6,214 ft)
Lowest Point: Davidson River
Elevation Gain: 8,720 feet
Top photo and middle photo taken by Matt Kirk
Bottom photo taken by Jennifer Davis
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This would be my third time running this marathon which I have grown to enjoy. This year I would be pacing the 3:45 group of runners. We started in front of the Charlotte Convention Center and the thermometer read 32 degrees. It was chilly, but didn’t feel like it was freezing at the start. We were off and running and I tried to maintain an 8:35 pace from the start. After a few miles went by, a few runners began to ask if there was a 3:40 pacer. Sure, I said.
I crossed the half point in 1:51 which is just under the 8:35 pace I wanted to maintain, and I felt great. The sun was shining, and the day had warmed up nicely. Despite the cooler temperatures, my clothes were socked in sweat. It was mile 17 that I knew my pace would not hold. I crashed, and even slowed to a walk a few times. This was a clear sign of my physical condition. Later in the race I was motivated to see ultra buddies John Teed, and Bedford Boyce which gave me the energy to continue running hard the last two miles to finish in just under 4 hours.
I’ve certainly run better marathons, but it was a great day, and a great run!
Saturday, December 06, 2008
We both made it to Matt’s car in 3:10. I refilled up my water bottle and popped two larabars dipped in peanut butter and started my return to the visitor center. My return took a little longer with several speed hikes involved. I couldn’t take my time because the days were short and the park locked its gates at 6pm. I used this as mental pressure to run harder.
The trail was certainly not flat. My altimeter gave me a reading of 6,240 feet of net gain/loss. Its important to note however that it is barometrically calculated and there were low lying clouds which may have affected an accurate reading. On the final stretch I passed the Shinny Creek Campgrounds which brought back many memories of my childhood as we had camped here during my younger days several times. It was getting dark, and although I was carrying a headlamp, it was a race between me and darkness. Who would reach the car first? I sped up despite some slight cramping in my hamstring and beat darkness to the car, reaching the visitor center at 5:41pm. The entire 32 miles took me 7:12.
I cleaned up in the parking lot and drove past the main entrance exactly at 6pm where a park ranger was waiting for me to leave. It was pitch black at this point. This run will surly happen again!
Photo taken by Matt Kirk.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Senator Barak H. Obama won the historic election last night against John McCain. It was only the day before that Barak visited UNCC at a rally in Charlotte, NC. This is a great time in history and I am glad to have been able to witness it. The photo below was taken on April 13, 2007 while Barak was visiting Charlotte for the first time at a breakfast function.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Two years ago I ran the Dowd Y half, and I relived that same race again this year. Motivated by racing buddies Greg and John I signed up the morning of the race. I was surprised to see Sarah Almodovar from Asheville drive down for the half. We exchanged hellos and talked about the new 24 hour race in NC at New Years. The morning was chilly for Charlotte standards with temps in the upper thirties. I felt good in the cold.
After running the first mile with Greg and John we all clocked a 7 min mile, and I decided to let them go while I enjoy this run. The weather could not have been better. I progressively slowed my pace throughout the run. It has been a while since I have run a half marathon, and it felt good to run hard. I finished by 2:25 slower than the last time I ran it two years ago.
After the run we all drove down to the Einstein Bagel and had breakfast.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The clouds reduced visibility to maybe 40 feet, so I didn’t hang out to see the views. It was in the 30’s at Max Patch and I was getting cold, so I quickly moved towards Hot Springs. After a few miles Greg startled me by tugging on the back of my pack. I thought to myself, How did he get behind me? He explained that he backtracked back to the car. We must have missed each other while I was on the loop trail. We both kept trucking along, hiking and running for a while. I gave Greg a bottle of water as I knew he might be short on fluids. After a few miles I decided to start running harder to try and catch up with John. I crossed the road into Hot Springs at 4:47pm, 8:40 minutes after we started in Hwy 40. Now I had to hike a mile into the campgrounds. I later found out John had finished 12 minutes before, which is amazing for a first time ultra runner, way to go John!
Saturday, October 04, 2008
We all headed up the Art Loeb and Brian took the car up to the Black Balsam Balds (18 miles away) which is where we would refuel. He would start there and run down to the Davidson River Campgrounds (our start/finish). Adam quickly shot up the mountain, and shortly after Charlie was off in the distance. I ran and hiked up the steep sections at my own pace. The day was perfect and the foliage was colorful.
After our aid station I took a right on the Mountains to Sea Trail. I headed up that trail for a little over ten miles and then I decided to hit the asphalt on Blue Ridge Parkway. I had planned to run to hwy276 and hitch I ride back to my car, which is when I saw all the guys on the side of the road waving at me. We all dropped our ambitious goal of 43 miles at mile 30. After over 9,000 feet of gain and 30 miles I was done for the day. I was able to find gas and make it back home with my car.
I would like to come back and finish this one day!
Thursday, October 02, 2008
We started at 8am and I was running a 10 minute pace. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep that pace, but felt good starting off. After running the first loop I realized how muddy the second half of the trail was and knew that the more feet pounding that section of trail, the more sloppy it would get. It reminded me of the time I got stuck in the mud in our safari Land Cruiser in the middle of the Ngoro Ngoro crater. All up in it with the lions, water buffalo, and other exotic wild animals.
Hinson Lake is a 1.52 mile loop that circles Hinson Lake in Rockingham, NC. It was muggy and humid that morning. My shorts were drenched within a few loops. I started off running with Scott Brockmeier. We got lost in discussions of Russian adventures and I lost track of how many loops I had run. After about 10 loops I pulled back and let Scott go, he later went on to win the event running an amazing 79 loops totaling 120.58 miles!
After about 10 loops I took a little break and lied down, I was feeling a little tired. I grabbed a few salty potatoes and went on my way. I met many failure faces and a few new ultra runners. Along the way I ran into Laura who is always in the greatest of spirits. It was her birthday, and she was celebrating. I also ran into Lane who I met briefly at the Florida Keys 100, it was great to connect.
After a few more loops I began to feel hungry and sleepy. I usually don’t have these feelings, but I thought it might be due to the fasting of the last 23 days. I took a 15 minute nap and then drove off to a Wendy’s and grabbed a spicy chicken sandwich. I gobbled it up, it was great.
After my friends had learned of my side trip I quickly gained the trail name spicy chicken. I didn’t mind. At this point I was walking and running and talking to my new trail buddies. It took about 3 loops for the spicy chicken to settle in.
After 27 loops I talked myself out of the race. I sat down in my lawn chair and could feel a throbbing blister on my right foot. I had fun, but I was going to bail on the remainder of the run. I cheered a few runners and just sat in my chair for 45 minutes or so.
I was getting yelled at by this point and got up to walk a loop with Byron. I then decided to up the mileage to 50 for the day and was happy to finish with that. It took me 11:50 to wrap up Hinson Lake. Next year I plan to finish all 24 hours!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The day was beautiful and abundant with sunshine. I ran back to the parking lot finishing well before my friends that had planned to hike at a fast pace. I decided to run down to the welcome center from the parking lot giving me a total mileage of just under 15 miles.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
This year I have committed to run 100 fasting miles. 60-30 minutes before the sun sets, at the time I am most dehydrated, and at the time when my stomach searches for empty calories. Running while in a state of fast is truly a challenge. Last year I ran a handful of miles which I thought were difficult. You really have to reach deep within to be able to run.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I was running with Bedford, John T., Jim Musselman for most of the trail. I ended up finishing with Jim in 8:01:06. Great run!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Several days after returning back home to the states war broke out between Russia and Georgia.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
More details and photos whence I return!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
I arrived into Newfound Gap in 1:45, and took a 10 min break to take care of some business. I was surprised to see that the bathrooms at Newfound Gap had been renovated. There are no longer sinks there, just toilets and hand sanitizers. So don’t rely on getting any water here unless you drop it.
As the day warmed up, the bugs were evident on the trail. I had to dodge some of them out of the way in order to avoid getting them in my eyes, nostrils, or swallow them. I was drinking more water than normal and I knew I would have to refuel sooner rather than later. I was carrying 4 liters with me at the start. This was completely self supported, so you had to carry everything you need for the entire 37 mile section. You can refill water from the spring along the way at the shelters.
I started this hike/run with 8 other people. 7 of which were attempting to hike 24 miles. 4 from Newfound gap to Cosby Campgrounds, 3 from Cosby Campgrounds to Newfound gap, 1 was attempting from Newfound gap to Davenport gap (31 miles), and I was going from Clingmans to Davenport gap (37 miles). The logistics were a little tricky, but with a few that volunteered to hike in the opposite direction, and with a car drop, we were on our way to a well planned adventure. The group of 7 hikers had started 1 to 2 hours before me from Newfound gap or from Cosby, and I was 7 miles away from where they were starting. I eventually reached them at Pecks Shelter which is where I needed to refuel and refill water (4:45pm).
For future reference, I don’t recommend filling up water from this shelter, it’s almost a mile off the trail round trip. Fill up at Tricorners which is much easier and faster to get to. I spent about 40 min eating my turkey sandwich I brought along, and filling up all 4 liters again, hiking up and down to the spring. I wanted to keep moving because I still had another 20 miles to go, I wasn’t even half way!
At this point I was hiking a healthy pace up the hills, and shuffling the flats, and running the downhill’s. The last climb of Mt. Cammerar was the longest. I finished in 10:37, a 21 min improvement from last time. I ate approximately 1,700 calories which included a bag of honey mustard pretzels, a turkey sandwich, 2 energy bars, 2 mango gu’s, and several ginger chew’s. I burned 7,775 calories, and drank all 8 liters of water, it was hot.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
My brother Hazem joined me on this adventure and was crewing for me while I attempted the 100. We began the run at 6am with a 77 degree start. I knew it would be warm and I started with a slower pace than usual.
After the first 25 miles I changed shoes because I had sweat all the way thru them and they were sloshing around. By this time the heat was really on. The high temperature for that day was 93 degree. I made sure I was downing electrolytes and water regularly.
The road was very flat. Bridges were the only places we had any elevation. I had packed ice on my back, head, and chest at times to keep my body temperature from over heating. It was humid. After running 50 miles I decided to drop out as the heat totally exhausted my body.
After the run we both checked out Key West, and made the short flight over to the Dry Tortugas Islands.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Some major contrasts between the Keys Ultra and Coyote are the Keys Ultra is flat vs. 28,000 feet of gain. The Keys Ultra is hot with humidity vs. dry heat. The keys Ultra is on asphalt self supported vs. trails with aid stations.
This should be an interesting experience!!
Live updates will be posted on this blog and facebook.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
The course is a 5 mile crisscrossed loop that has a few steep climbs and descents, which don’t seem too intimidating the first go around, and some flat sections with large chunky gravel, and some grassy flat sections near the lake and near the start/finish area.
I ran half of the first loop with Mike Peircy who had only planned to run for 6 hours. He told me a little bit about the history of Camp Rock mount and how it used to be Black Mountain College. I learn something new every time I attempt one of these long runs.
I ran a few more loops alone then got lapped by Drew and later by Richard. These guys were pushing it a little harder than I was and I didn’t let it get to me because I was attempting the 24 hour and they had only planned to run for 12. The relay runners would zip right by you some of which clipping 7 to 8 minute miles. Sometimes I would try to keep up with some of them, but that only proved to be no good. By lap 10 (50 miles) I really felt exhausted and sleepy, the sun was setting, so I grabbed my headlamp. I really didn’t get a good amount of sleep for the three days leading up to this run due to work and woke up at 5:50am the day of the race to drive up to Black Mountain. I slowed my pace a little for the next two loops and finished lap 12 in 12:01:45. I sat in a chair at the start/finish for 10 minutes and walked over to the time keeper and let them know I would drop out of the run at 60 miles. I was too sleepy and some stomach issues were bothering me.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
After scratching plans to run from Clingmans Dome to Fontana Lake solo due to weather conditions we came up with a new itinerary. It was me, Ann, Paul, Jason, and Wendy. Everyone was interested in a 13 or so mile hike, and I really wanted to get a long 30 mile’s out of my system. So we planned to take two cars and drop them at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) and Stechoa Gap. Paul and Ann would hike in the direction of the NOC and me, Jason and Wendy would hike from the NOC to Stechoa gap. When we intersect, we do a key swap. My plan was to keep going from Stechoa gap and run all the way back to the cabin in Fontana Village 16 miles away from Stechoa.
We began the hike a little later than I would have wanted around 9:55am. It had been raining all night and had just stopped raining around 9:30ish. We strapped our packs and headed up the AT towards Cheoah Bald, 5,062 feet (1,543 m). This 8 mile section of the AT wasn’t new to me, and recent memories of finishing the Bartram Trail came back to life. I climbed 3,700 feet to reach the summit in 2:35 and with almost perfect timing meeting Ann and Paul. After spending a little over 15 minutes at the top I decided to keep trucking along. Despite weather forecasts, the day was pleasant with a sprinkle here and there. I picked up my speed after the summit on the downhill and I was alone from here on out.
Every April hundreds of thru hikers start a journey from Georgia to Maine to cross the entire 2,174 mile of the Appalachian Trail. I started passing a few thur hikers at this point stopping for a few seconds to exchange hellos. When I reached Stechoa Gap in 4:10 I unlocked my car and grabbed a turkey sandwich, some salty chips, and drank the rest of the water I had in my car. I was down to a one liter bottle of water.
I still had 16 miles to go, and the next 2 miles were uphill. This section of the AT was new to me. It was getting very warm and I was drinking more water than I thought I would and by this time I had drank a little over 3.5 liters. I stopped at Brown Fork Shelter and filled up 2.5 liters to take me the entire way. I kept running the flat and downhill sections and hiking up the hills. There were many stealth knobs that don’t show up on the contour lines on my map. When I reached Cable Gap Shelter I had 6.6 miles to hwy 28 or 8.8 miles to the Cabin. I met a few more thru hikers, most of which had been hiking for three days from the NOC to reach Cable Gap Shelter. A few miles later a great view of Fontana Lake appeared and the Dam was visible from high above. I knew I was getting closer at this point and from here on out it was downhill. Although I was tired, I was still moving. I finally reached hwy 28 and turned left. Two miles left on asphalt to make it back to the cabin. I began to run, and then it was impossible to run because the road was too steep. This slowed me to a hiking pace, and I finished the 30 mile speed hike trail run in 9 hours exactly.
Ann, Paul, Jason, and Wendy all made it back to the cabin with all the vehicles and the logistics worked out perfectly! Maybe next time I am in Fontana I will have bagged the Clingmans Dome to Fontana 30 mile section.
Start time 9:55am
Finish time 6:55pm
Start at the NOC
Finish at Fontana Village
Total distance 30 miles
Total calories burned 7,880
Total elevation gain ~6,700 feet
Summit: Cheoah Bald 5,062 feet (1,543 m)
Friday, April 11, 2008
The run starts at 6:30pm at the Charlotte Running Company (1412 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203). Good times.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
That’s what I did. I ended up running another painful two loops, and met up with Fred Dumar on the 3rd loop. No sense in dropping at the third loop and DNF'ing when you can just finish one more and get credit for a 50 mile run. He was right! I kept telling myself to keep going and finished the 50 miles.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
So I have never successfully finished a contiguous 100 mile run, why would I choose Coyote 2 Moon to be the one I try to finish? I was asked that question by most on the run. A runner would approach me and say, “ohhh, you’re the first time 100 miler.” Probably feeling sorry for me, and thinking what a bad choice for a first 100. Maybe it’s because I love the mountains and a natural desire to explore new areas. I have never been to California. Los Padres National Park just above Ojai, CA is really a fantastic area and to top it off, have you seen the belt buckle?
This is certainly not a traditional 100 miler. It's a staggered start, so different people start at different times depending on their past experiences in running 100's with similar elevation gain and their ability. When Chris Scott, the race director, asked me how long I thought I would finish, I told him 38 hours. The cutoff was 40 hours. I ended up starting with the 40 hour group, which meant we could take full advantage of the 40 hour limit. No one took this run seriously, it was just one big party going on all weekend. I started Friday at 4pm with a group of a little over a dozen runners, all of which had completed 100 milers in the past, and some really tough ones too. I met too many random runners that had completed Badwater. I was the odd one in the bunch. The next group would start at 6pm, 9pm and so on with each runner trying to finish before 8am Sunday. The fastest group started at 6am Saturday morning, 14 hours after I did!
We were off, and I took it slow from the start. My training had not gone well at all for the past two months. The entire month of February I was down with the flu which forced me to turn around on Mt. Mitchell at the BRP for a marathon finish. Up until the day of the race I had questioned my self and my ability. I had though many times to switch to the 100k, but mentally I convinced myself this was a run of a life time. It would the first year they run the Coyote 2 Moon.
START TO SISAR VALLEY (Mile 17.2)
At 4pm on Saturday it was hot and by the first aid station the volunteer looked at me and told me that I had sweat too much. My sweat rate is higher than normal, and I down more water and keep a close monitor of my electrolytes because of that. I had not focused on a certain pace, or speed, but rather just enjoying the nice day in the mountains with a bunch of other lunatics trying to do the same thing I was.
This run is not easy to follow. The easiest way to describe it is the ridge acts as the spine, and from the ridge there are 8 out and backs. I was on my out to the Sisar Valley, the first out and back on the course. From the ridge I was running downhill, and it was here I picked up my pace. I felt good and wasn't running hard, just running leisurely downhill. On my way down I passed a group of three runners. As I passed them, a guy yelled out and said I had to wear this sweaty goofy looking hat with a pin wheel attached to it. Something a clown would wear. Apparently I didn't realize that the lead male and lead female for each group must wear this goofy hat, or they get penalized on their time and risk DNF'ing even if they finish in the 40 hour time. I thought this to be odd, but played along. At this point I lead the entire 4pm group. That made me feel as if I was going out too fast, and rethought my plan and slowed down a bit. After reaching the Sisar Valley aid station I downed some calories, grabbed some warmer cloths that I had dropped and turned around to run back up what I just run down.
SISAR VALLEY TO TOPATOPA (Mile 25.8)
It was getting dark and cooling quickly. Half way up I was passed by Linda McFadden who was wearing the same goofy looking hat I was signifying that she was the lead female for the 4pm starters. I hiked up at a fast pace to keep up with her and I kept asking her questions to see if that would slow her down, but this women was tough. I learned she had completed Badwater and continued to climb the summit of Mt. Whitney, then continued to hike the John Muir Trail. For someone like me who would be happy just to finish this run, I began to be concerned again. Was I following the fast people too closely. But I kept telling myself I had 40 hours to complete this and just go with the flow. At that point we hit an aid station, and Chris and Sue were working it. Sue told me that she was planning a summit attempt at Denali later this year. Chris, the race director, said I was doing good on time. I had some quesadillas and went off to the summit of Topatopa the highest point on the run. Before I left Chris told me that I would find a deck of cards at the summit and I needed to bring a card back with me. This guy kept coming up with creative idea's that really made this run different from any I had ever done before. It was dark and I could see Linda's headlamp ahead of me, she was now clearly ahead of me. I kept running until, to my surprise, I saw Linda standing on some snow with a layer of ice that made it almost impossible to walk on without risking a nasty fall to the bottom. I attempted to get onto the snow and was able to carefully walk without slipping. Did Chris know how dangerous this was for other runners? I mean crampons were certainly called for here. I thought this was part of the game and kept hiking up ice until I reached a section of trail that kept going higher with little or no ice. Finally I could see what I thought was the summit of Topatopa and was inclined to bushwhack and grab a card and run down. No other runners were in sight, but I was leading at this point. I thought I had gained a sizable lead. No sign of Linda or any other runner. For some reason I didn't think too much about that, and kept trying to find the summit. I ended up bushwhacking up three summits at my altimeter read 6,300 feet which was close to what the summit of Topatopa is. But no deck of cards to be found, no other runners to be found. I climbed up two other summits which appeared to be higher than where I was, nothing. I realized something is really wrong, and turned around. You cant run downhill on ice, you will slip and fall right away. I had a makeshift ice axe out of a branch I broke off a tree and carefully walked down back towards the aid station. At this point psychologically I was drained. I had gone over two miles off course. Plus extra elevation I didn't need!! Arrgh!! When I hit the trail section I noticed the turn that me and Linda had missed because I could see all the headlamps climbing up the summit trail. A truck was driving towards me on the ridge and it was Chris asking where the hell I had been. Several runners had come thru the aid station, up to the summit, and all said they had not seen me at all. I told him what happened and I went back to the aid station skipping all together the summit of Topatopa. I offered my makeshift axe to Chris in exchange for a card! He accepted. I warmed up with a cup of soup, and thought that I still had plenty of time to complete this challenge.
TOPATOPA TO ROSE VALLEY (Mile 31.8)
At this point all the runners I was with were long gone and the aid station volunteers told me that I could still make it, and that to not let it affect me. Are you kidding, I was still feeling great and was planning on crossing the finish line before 8am. I kept heading North towards Rose Valley and ran this section alone. Almost all the 4pmer's had past me and several 6pmer's had passed by this point. When I got to rose valley the first time I didn't linger around, it was freezing. I later found out it was 22 degrees there. I grabbed some food and started the hike back up what I just ran down.
ROSE VALLEY TO THATCHER SCHOOL (Mile 49.4)
I was beginning to feel the discomfort at this point and remember taking my time hiking up. It was here I met with Brian Clark. Me and Brian ran together for the next two aid stations and we kept each other going. We were on our way to Thatcher School and daylight broke. On our way down Thatcher I saw three runners hiking up, they must have had a 9-10 mile lead on us at that point. We got down to Thatcher refueled and hiked back up what we just ran down.
THATCHER SCHOOL TO ROSE VALLEY (Mile 61.4)
It was hot as all get out, and I kept downing water and eating salty pretzel sticks and chips and taking an electrolyte tablet when I felt necessary. This was a true adventure for me as I have never run under two moons. I have done several all nighters, midnight marathons, and you can't beat the night running. I was not expecting the large variance in weather from night and day. The low for Friday night was 22 degrees at Rose Valley (mile marker 32 and 62). On the ridge the highs reached over 80 degrees and the sun was pounding down hard. There are no tree and very few area's with shade. Very dry area compared to my home state of North Carolina. It reminded me of the desert heat of the Grand Canyon. After getting back onto the ridge and running for a while the sign to Rose Valley appeared and the decent was steep. My feet had blistered up at the ball of my foot pretty bad and it was compounded by the next two miles of steep downhill to the bottom of Rose Valley. When I reached the aid station, I took my shoes and socks off and realized I would be spending some time here. Linda was leaving as I was coming in. She over heard me say something about blisters and kindly offered to use her blister kit, and I needed it. Gillian, a co-owner of ZombiRunner.com came to my rescue and cleaned up my feet, wrapped them up, and got me going again. The pain didn’t got away immediately, but felt much more bearable. I have to say, if it wasn’t for this blister repair, I would have DNF’ed. Thank you Gillian!!!
ROSE VALLEY TO GRIDLEY BOTTEM (Mile 721.1)
I started back up the steepest 2 miles and towards the end every bend of the trail I would tell myself was the last and the end was near. But it kept going forever. When I reached the ridge I felt relief, and began to run again. I kept going, and finally reached the Gridley top aid station. Refueled, drank a full bottle of water, and kept the quesadillas coming. They never tasted so good. I left and hiked/ran down to Gridley Bottom.
GRIDLEY BOTTEM TO COZY DELL (Mile 85.6)
I was feeling good psychologically at this point. I still had plenty of time, and just had to hike up 3,000 feet back to the ridge and run to the bottom of Cozy Dell and back and I was done. I was told that Cozy Dell was the gentlest part of the run. I had two burritos and some more food, and headed back up. On my way up I ran into another group of runners doing the 100k. I also met up with Rob who was a 9pm starter for the 100M. He looked fresh, and was leading the hike up at a good pace. I figured If I could hang with these guys I was in the clear. It seemed to take forever, but we finally made it back up to the aid station. It was dark and I had to barrow a headlamp as I forgot mine down at the aid station. I also lent out my spare to Brian. One of the greatest things about the ultra running community is that they are always happy to help someone succeed.
To my surprise out of the aid station we started hiking up when I thought we were headed down to Cozy Dell. We climbed maybe 2,000 feet then descended again down. The group I was with ran down, and I hiked slowly down at this point. My feet kept bothering me. I had to convince myself to ignore the pain and catch up with Rob. I let a faster runner pass me and I followed him for a good mile downhill fast. The pain was there, but I was ignoring it. I passed Rob and finally caught up with the 100k group I was with earlier and let the fast runner go his way. The run down Cozy Dell wasn’t so cozy for me, it was harder than I had imagined. I kept going and going and finally, I could see the lights of the aid station. It was at least a half a mile farther down. I felt like I was moving fast, but my pace was very slow. Some huge boulders showed up and I hoped a few of them here and there and finally stumbled into the aid station. They had some awesome chips and salsa here which I munched on for a while then had some soup. I was here for less than 5 min as the 100k group got back up and was out on there way. One of them had dropped here. A few other runners were sitting in chairs with blankets covering their shivering bodies.
COZY DELL TO FINISH
I knew this would be tough, but I had to climb back up what was extremely difficult to run down. My body had been trashed, and my feet swollen and blistered. I kept telling myself it was the last big climb and just to keep moving. This section I did alone. I kept moving, and hiking up as fast as I could. I was moving maybe at 2 miles per hour uphill. It took forever, but I made it back to the aid station and sat down for 10 minutes. I knew that they longer I sat that the chance of my legs working again kept getting smaller. I had refueled and waited for the next runner to show up so we could go out and tackle the last three miles of this run. It was a mile a half up hill on the ridge and another two miles back to the ranch on single track trail. I kept pushing myself to the very last minute. I crossed the finish line at exactly 6am for a 38 hour finish.
I wrapped myself in blankets and ate another burrito, soup, coffee, and started to come back to life. My body has never been so wasted before.
I was glad to have finished this beast of a run! Thank you to all the volunteers and to the people that made this event possible! Without them, none of this would have happened.
Start 0 miles
Sisar Valley 17.2 miles
Topatoap 25.8 miles
Rose Valley 31.8 miles
Thatcher School 49.4 miles
Rose Valley 61.4 miles
Gridley Bottom 72.1 miles
Cozy Dell 85.6 miles
Finish 97.1 miles
Lost for +-2 miles