Matt Kirk and I have talked about a South Mountains 50k for the past few months now, and today we made it happen. Matt found a route from Hwy 64 to the park, so we decided to do an out and back each of us started from different ends of the run. We both met up at the visitor center around 10:20am. My car measured the temperature at that time to be 37 degrees, and I was cold. I brought some food with me because I knew Matt would be a little hungry from running the first leg of the run. We both ran back towards Matt’s car. About a 1/3 of the run is actually in the park, and the other 2/3rds are on a single toll road that leads to Hwy 64. As you exit the park, the toll road weaves in and out thru some amazing views. Mountain vistas like the Black Mountains can be seen here.
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.
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