The decade was coming to an end, and again I began the planning phase of the birthday run. This year I used the Hardrock name I acquired on the trail “Sultan” as the name of the event, fitting for the handcrafted crowns we sported. The Sultan 50k.
This is really not a run, but a birthday party with friends, celebrating everything that makes you feel alive. My brother Osama, whom I have called Ozmin almost his entire life, was turning 30 in January. He saw it fit to learn a little more about the ultra running culture, and decided to come along and volunteer at the 16.5 mile aid station along with Lilly, and document the adventure we all had. They both did a fantastic job, and braved the cold and mist for the day to help us out, you guys rock!
I met up with Jonathan Savage and John Lewis in Charlotte, and we all drove up to Morganton to the Coffee House. I passed out some recycled bibs to all the participants so that when they all came to the aid station our volunteers could record their 16.5 mile split time. Each bib came from some adventure I had participated it, and I tried to match up each runner with something they could relate to. We then all drove to Roper Hollow Road, snapped a few photos, and at 10:04am we began running.
The first 3 miles are uphill. I ran a little with Anne and Annette, and then pulled back a little to run with Greg, Keith, and Stu. It was great to be outdoors, and take in the fresh mountain air with friends. I pulled into the aid station in 2:52 surprised to see how well it was set up. Lilly and Ozmin did great work. At this point I had been anticipating the cake, and I was starving. I scarfed down a huge slice, and ate lots of salty chips and fluids. As Keith and I came in, we saw Annette, Mark, Dewight, and Anne on their way out. Wendy, Keiths wife stayed behind so they could run together. I drew my card and got a 6, this would shave 6 minutes off of my actual finish time. Laughs, headstands, and cartwheels were going on to humor our volunteers and get stickers added to their names which turned into points (big sticker = 20 min, small sticker = 10 min). I stayed at the aid station for 30 minutes to help out, and to meet as many of the runners as possible. Keith and Stu went on, as the body gets cold being stationary. D.C., Jonathan Savage, Greg and Hayley all rolled in. I gobbled up some more calories and saw Beth, Ashley, and Damian come thru. Everyone was loving the cake, and then I high fived Melinda and Patrick as they came in. At this point, I was feeling the cold get to me and decided to start moving back towards Roper Hollow Road.
On the return we climbed the stairs to the waterfall, which was frozen last year, with Ashley, Jonathan Savage, and D.C. We ran all the flats, and the downhill’s, and hiked up the hills. Magically Erik and Julie, friends from Charlotte, appeared with their camera’s on the trail, taking photos of us running threw the woods! Thanks guys, and thanks for sharing. Next time make sure to grab a slice of cake before your hike! Hate you missed it.
At this point we had exited the park and started to pick up the pace. D.C. and I ran together for a while, and met up with Beth who was jamming to her tunes. We ran for a while together, and remembered her help in finding a sweet trail while I was up in Virginia a few months back in the Iron Mountains. I could feel my legs a bit heavy, but wanted to run up the hills, so I did a few times. We then started running down hill fast, and D.C. and I kept thinking we had reached the finish, only to see another bend in the road. For 2 miles or so, we thought we were at the finish, and kept up a strong pace. We then finished the round trip time of 6:36:38. The distance was 33 miles, net elevation gain was 6,000 feet, and it was between 40-50 degrees, overcast clouds, and somewhat misty-drizzly. As we approached the finish, a fire had been burning and appeared to be toasty. We huddled around and cheered in the rest of the runners out there.
After all the runners came in, some of decided to go to Jalapanos for some Mexican food, which is very tasty. I want to thank the volunteers, and the friends that helped me make this possible. Happy Birthday! Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! Live it up.
This was an amazing time, and even more amazing people. For fun, I decided to barrow some of Chris Scott C2M idea’s and incorporate bonus points and boner points for an official finish time of all the runners. Here is how it works:
Hair cut into a crown = 100 min.
Many of the runners asked about the cake, and who made it? Nona from Nona's bakery in Charlotte. That red velvet was gooooood. Also, a special thanks to Melanie and Lonnie who crafted our crowns for the second year. Thinking about throwing down the crown at your next birthday party? Well check out their website, all proceeds go towards their son Daniels therapies that aren't covered by insurance. Great people to work with.
To the next adventure!