Warning: the following words and images will allow you to vicariously see the world with the eyes of Sultan. Read at your own risk. The name Sultan has many meanings, but derives from the peak Sultan Mountain in Silverton, CO!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Birthday Adventure Run 50k

I knew I had to go all out for a 30th birthday party run. Ice cream cake, party hats, and nice trails were in order. How many times do you turn 30? Work it!

A few of us had met at the Cracker Barrel for some blueberry pancakes before heading out to the start of the run. Along the drive up I dropped off ice cream cake, sun chips, and water to Lily and Patti. We all drove to the start, while they drove to the turn around point. Without them this run wouldnt be possible.

On the drive up from Charlotte we saw a few sprinkles, but not a drop of rain while on the trail. The starting line included old friends and new ones. Bottem Left to Right: Matt K, Annette B, David K, Kevin L, Dave P. Top Right to Left: John L, Jeff M, Melinda Y, Ashley F, Stu G, Elizabeth H, Jason H, Mohammed I, David P, and Charlie R! Everyone was so much fun. It was Ashley’s birthday in a few days, so a double birthday run was going on.

We started at Roper Hollow Road and ascended the gravel section for a few miles until it turned into dirt and kept going up. We kept on this dirt road for 10 miles until we reached South Mountains State Park. The views from higher above were clear and we could see the Black Mountains in the distance.

I was surprised to see Erik and Julie hiking from the opposite direction and snapping photos later on the trail. Thanks for joining us! I would rank Erik as a professional photographer, most notably the photos from our Safari in the Ngoro Ngoro crater in Tanzania.

We kept going up and down rolling hills while in the park until we reached the Upper Falls Loop, and then descended down to the parking lot. Me, Stu, and Charlie all reached the turn around at the same time at 2:55, we were making good time. I felt a little dehydrated so I tried to guzzle down as much water while I was there. Enjoying the highest calorie per ounce ice cream cake according to Maggie Moos in Charlotte; cotton candy ice cream cake with M&M's and Reese's Pieces all mixed in. It was probably not the best thing to eat after 16 miles, but it was good, mmmmm. I snacked on a few chips to get some salt in, filled up my bottles and turned back the same way I came down. This way however we climbed the steps up to the frozen waterfall. I’ve never seen the South Mountains waterfall frozen like that, truly an amazing sight. It was the icing on the cake!

My legs began to twitch a little and I knew I was dehydrated with only two bottles in hand. I began to conserve my energy and the water intake as I had another 15 miles to go with no where to fill up water. The views and conversation were exciting and that made the last half go by faster. It took me 6:55 to complete the 32 mile distance that had over 6,000 feet of elevation gain.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday run. Thanks to all that came out and I hope you had as much fun as I did!

Lonnie and his wife who made the party hats wanted me to share his son’s website:

http://www.danieljohnmaxwellspranger.blogspot.com/ The hats made the run that much more memorable! Thanks Lonnie.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Birthday Warmup

Today was the coldest day of the year in Charlotte. I snuck out a little early to catch the last few hours of sunlinght for the day. I was itching to get a nice run in as I haven't done much this week. With 22% humidity, a high of 32 for the day, and sunny, it was cold and dry. I guzzled down a full liter of water before the run because I felt a little dehydrated and decided to run without any water.

I had on shorts, gloves, and I was testing out my new smartwool microweight long sleeve which I plan to use on the Marathon De Sable, and testing out the new Birthday Party Hats for the 50k next weekend.

I ran a frequent 11 mile out and back on a greenway in town. At the turn around I was at 43.5 minutes. At that time I felt great, the cold crisp air was refreshing. My mouth was dry, and my body wanted a little water. I kept pushing along and knew I would be running a PR today. I could tell the temperature outside was dropping as I saw large puddles more frozen on the way back. I got a few weird looks when people saw me in shorts. I ran back to the car in a 7:30 pace negative splitting the run and felts fabulous. I did suck down alot of sub freezing air which should condition my body for future cold runs. The temperature at the end of the run was 26 degrees.

Later today I will be celebrating an engagement of two friends who met on Kilimanjaro! This weekend is off to a great start.
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Monday, January 05, 2009

2009 New Years Run

My watch read 11:57pm, me and Matt had 3 minutes left in 2008, and we were about to embark on a journey that lead us into 2009 and up Mt. Mitchell and back from Marion, NC. This trail run’s distance, terrain, and possible severe weather was certainly intimidating.

We would be on the Mountains to Sea trail all the way until we got up to Commissary Ridge where we would break away for just under 4 miles to the summit and back. The temperature was at freezing in Marion at the start, and it was only going to get colder, much colder. Matt dubbed this run as the Mt. Mitchell Challenge V 2.0. I even think it has a Hellgatish feel to it with the midnight winter start. After snapping a few photos we were off into the woods. It was dark, and after climbing we could see the lights of Marion and one side, and what appeared to be the lights of Old Fort on the other side. I followed Matt for the first few hours up to Woods Mountain, and then up and down several other peaks before reaching Hwy 80. Just follow the white dot.

I was wearing several layers as I expected it to get much colder as we climbed in elevation, and it did. We were probably in the low teens when we got past the Blue Ridge Parkway. I unzipped my vest to reach for some food and Hawaiian shaved ice was everywhere! My perspiration down below in Marion froze into shaved ice up above. My water bottle froze, and I wasn’t able to take in any water. Me and Matt were together for the most part until we reached the South Toe at the Black Mountain Campgrounds. It was here I went ahead and he filled up his bottles. A few miles later Matt flew by and passed me as I stumbled up the mountain sleep hiking. The lack of sleep was getting to me.

The florescent orange and red rays began to illuminate the mountains, and a new year was born. The colors were amazing. I was still however sleep hiking, and frozen with all my clothes on. I finally got to commissary ridge, and I knew I would be up on top of the Mitchell by 8:45am at this pace. I started to hike up what I thought was commissary ridge, but then noticed 15 minutes later I was just hiking up a dried up creek bed which resembled a trail. No problem, I knew I was very close to the trial, so I decided to bushwack to the left and try to hook up with the trial, no sense in hiking down and starting over again and losing time. I bushwacked thru a thin forest, so it was easy to navigate upward. It kept getting thicker, and the longer it took, the more worried I was going off trail. I reached the top of a false summit with an elevation of 6,650 feet on my altimeter when I glanced at the true summit at least a mile away. The new tower was visible from where I was. I was not happy with my decision. Should I run down and skip out on the summit because of this mistake? I was already behind Matt, and didn’t want to delay my return to Marion, I could not afford to spend another night out in the bitter cold with no sleep (Memories of Coyote Two Moon pop up here). I ran back down to the ridge and noticed where I made a mistake. At that point I made the decision to hike back up to the summit.

I reached the top of Mitchell at 9:50am, cold and hungry. I knew I was tight on time but decided to spend 8 minutes and pulled out a Turkey bagel. The view was the best I had seen it up there. Clear skies, and calm. It was windier at the campgrounds than it was at the summit which was a treat. It was probably in the single digest, so I was happy about not having too much wind.

I started my decent, and I ran down commissary ridge in 20 min, I wanted to make up as much time as I could. I filled up my bottles of water here, and continued to run down. I got turned around again where several new down trees littered the trail. This upset me because I had already gone off trail earlier, I couldn’t afford to lose more time, or add more mileage. Finally I reached the campgrounds at 12:00 noon. It was here that I knew I wouldn’t make it back before dark to Marion. I had another 6+ miles to go just to get to Hwy 80, and then another 14 miles to get to Marion, with plenty of elevation gain. I was sleep deprived, dehydrated, and exhausted at this point.

I decided to take the one mile shorter route, turn left at the road out of the campgrounds to Hwy 80 and then turn right up to the parkway which then intersects the Mountains to Sea trail. So I added a little bit of asphalt to the run. After shuffling for 2+ miles before reaching Hwy 80 I hitched a ride to the trail. The local thought I was insane running in the freezing cold, and gave me a 2.5 mile ride to the trailhead. I was determined to finish before dark.

I hiked up and ran down the last 14 miles and thought it would never end. I was happy to see Matt and Lilly at the end. It took me 17:20 to finish this 53 mile monster, and my altimeter clocked 13,060 feet of elevation gain. I was hammered.

The next day Matt made some sweet curry omelets which fueled day two of 2009. We decided to do a short loop on the Black Mountain Crest trail. We parked the batmobile at the Colberts Ridge trailhead, and ran north of Hwy 80. After a few miles we got a ride to what we thought was the trailhead up Woody Ridge, we finally found our way and began a steep ascent. The trail disappeared and I was bushwhacking again trying to find my way up to the summit of Horse Rock (6200 feet). It had snowed a few hours before we started, and the temperature dropped which turned the precipitation into light freezing rain. Finally after ducking and climbing up trees me and Matt made our way thru the slush to the summit. Where was the trail? I knew to follow the sound of the howling wind as it was almost always windier on the West side of the ridge. We found the trail, and headed South towards Colberts Ridge. After hiking up a few steep ascents we made it to the Colberts Ridge trails, and turned left descending to where we had parked our car. All in all it was a great day two with about 14 miles of running, hiking, climbing and bushwhacking.