38 miles - 6:33:50 - Uwharrie Mountain Run
Vonda, Charlie, and I parked our car near a church, and hoped into a shuttle. Heather, from Asheboro was our volunteer driver, she helped us make it to the start, with enthusiasm I might add. Not a single rain drop fell as we huddled around a campfire to stay warm anticipating the start. The air was a little humid, that feeling you have after it had been raining for days. Many of us shuffling thru our drop bags, and making last minute decisions on what to carry along the run, and what to drop.
photos by: Anthony Carriveau
Byron was in his sleeveless, which is his classic look (2009 Mt. Mitchell), one that I choose to sport every now and then, even in cold temperatures, with arm warmers of course. "Mo, your overdressed." I agreed, and dropped my rain jacket, and gloves. I had on cycling arm warmers, my hardrock shirt, shorts, and a beanie. I put on the hardrock shirt for good luck with Sunday’s lottery, hoping I would get in! We had aid every three miles, so I rocked one hand-held bottle, knowing I could re-fuel at any of the aid stations.
Just before the start, the organizers, which I respect very much for putting on such a well organized run with all the bad weather possibilities this weekend, made a few announcements. This year, they were not timing the run, and they re-routed part of the course after mile 14. This made the race a bit flatter, and many mentioned even shorter. Some had been disappointed to hear this, but I was just stoked to be outside in these conditions on the trail. I enjoy the different elements of nature during these endurance events, and seeing how I cope with them. I also love mud!!
We took off, and my strategy was to run hard, and see if I can maintain a solid pace. Byron, Mark, Brad, and Ronnie lead in quattro action. After the first big hill, I let them disappear in the distance. I kept a pace up with two other runners for the next 10 miles or so, until we all broke up and ran solo. I was in 6th place, but I tried to take my mind off of this, and focus on my run. I was having a great time, high fiving volunteers, jamming to my tunes at times, and watching light snow flakes fall from the sky at other times. I love running in the snow too!!
I began to feel cold in my hands, and wished I kept the gloves. This was a bad choice on my part, but no worries, I just pulled my arm warmers down a bit and covered my fingers, bam. You have to improvise on the trail. After reaching mile 14, we turned left down a gravel road all the way to the turn around. This was the fast section of the run, and really where you could make up time. I kept telling myself I would push it harder on the return, so I took a nice steady pace. Before I knew it, Mark, Ronnie, Byron, and Brad passed me on their return. All appeared to be in high spirits, and looking strong. They were all minutes from each other.
When I got to mile 20, I downed a salty potatoe, a couple of fig newtons, and guzzled down some mountain dew, or Nitro as the kirkmister calls it. I also grabbed my gloves out of my drop bag, and attempted to put them on. My fingers were frozen at this point, and tangled into each other with no dexterity. I couldn't even put my gloves on! Marie, thank you for helping me put those suckers on. It was 3:15 when I left the aid station, and I kept trucking along.
It was here I began to pass many of the 40 mile runners who were on their way to the 20 mile aid station. Uwharrie 40M is an out and back. I high fived many of them, and picked up tremendous positive energy, which was reciprocated, from all of the runners. Some runners don't like to talk to people when they are focused on a race. I'm the opposite, I love the energy that gets passed around. Two runners, who I don’t know, yelled out "Sultan! I read your blog" as they ran past. You know who you are! I hope your run went well.
I reached the 14/26 mile aid station in 4 hours, and pit stopped for some Nitro and calories, and took off. I was back on the single track. I remember sprinting downhill on a section only to come up to a stream that was knee deep. Opposite of the stream was a 20 mile runner that was searching for a way to cross without actually getting his feet wet. In full jubilation, I leaped forward from my sprint into the stream, causing tidal waves, and a splash that was louder than my coyote howl soaked my legs and cleaned off all the mud on my lower body. The other runner decided to do the same!
I was pacing myself at 30 minutes per aid station which was challenging. I reached the 32 mile aid station and had a chance to chat with Joe Lea, a Hardrocker, and Kean Hankins a Coyote! I refueled, wished them luck on both lotteries of Wastach, and Hardrock. We were all in the same lotteries!
A mile or so later, I saw Byron in the distance. I eventually caught up to him, which seemed like it took another mile or so. We ran/shuffled together, and then I let him go, only to see him waiting for me at the mile 35 aid station. I downed a hot chocolate, and a few calories, and continued to push on. A few miles later we were passed by Willow. You’ve gotta love the trailheads and all of their trail names! Sultan likes that.
We both followed Willow to the last aid station at mile 38. We exchanged a few words, and I learned she would be running Western States later on this year! Before you knew it, another runner came up on us with less than a mile to go, Anthony Corriveau. 5th, 6th, and 7th place all finished within seconds of each other. Byron had a stronger finish than I, and dropped the hammer to finish in 5th. Willow finished first female, rock on.
Uwharrie was a great race. Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this event possible. I later found out that day I did get into Wasatch, along with Joe, Kean, and Flame! But with no luck at Hardrock…210th on the waiting list! Kean rocks out and got into both.
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