Cruel Jewel 100 Training
In preparation for the Cruel Jewel 100 race, Paul and I decided to run the Double Top 100k. Double Top is a 20-mile loop course. Each 20-mile loop consists of two smaller loops. There’s plenty of aid and the course is very difficult. Runners pass the same aid stations over and over throughout the event. You get to know the volunteers pretty well. They are all Georgia locals and in most cases GUTS runners. In all cases, they are good people and it’s a pleasure visiting with them repeatedly throughout the event.
Perry’s packet pickup is a laid back affair. He and some others are usually sitting around eating and chatting with runners as they come through. It’s usually a chance to catch up with Perry for a few minutes and maybe grab a bite to eat. This year was no different. We arrived at the pavilion just before dark. We didn’t bother eating, we were planning on grabbing something at a place close to the hotel in Chatsworth. We chatted with Perry and a few other runners passing through and headed out to the hotel.
Chatsworth Hotel and Dinner
Chatsworth isn’t the place to go if you want to stay in a nice hotel or eat some fine dining. The hotel we stay in is a typical low budget type hotel. I think it was a Best Western. As it gets late you’re certain to hear partying out in the parking lot. We unloaded our bags in the room and drove across the street to a Subway. We loaded up on some food and went back to the hotel hoping to get a decent nights sleep.
5 am Race Start
We knew we had to get up early to be ready for the 5 am race start. 5 am was the official start time for the 100k and 100-mile race but Perry will let 100-mile runners start at 3 am if they wish. This is important if you’re running the 100 miler. 36 hours at Double Top is cutting it close for most runners. The 100 miler has 26,000 feet of elevation gain.
For the 100k runners, a 5 am start is perfect. Paul and I showed up before 5 am ready to start the race. Perry got the laptop timer up and pointed us in the right direction and sent us out on the course.
Lost on the First Loop
Don’t ask me how we did it but somehow Paul and I got off course at the bottom of the first loop. Brad was watching us and drove over and asked us what we were doing. We were lucky Brad was watching. We only had to double back a small distance to get back on track. We saw the error we made and made a point not to do that again.
The course at Double Top is misleading. The trails are wide and look smooth and comfortable. However, that’s not the case at all. The trails are much rougher than you think and as you spend more and more time on them, your feet start suffering. Each full loop will accumulate about 5100-5200 feet of elevation. You might have noticed that the name of the race is actually Double Top/Double Tap. The 100-mile runners and the 100K runners have to do a 1 mile out and back run on the Pinhoti trail on their first two loops. This is the double tap portion of the race.
The course has a gnarly 1200 foot powerline climb. That’s the steep climb on the elevation profile. After that, there’s a more gradual climb up the 302. Those two large climbs combine with the many shorter climbs makes each 20-mile loop challenging.
Since we kept running through the same aid stations with the same volunteers, some of the volunteers started having a little fun with us. Paul and I are similar in size and age and it turns out we had accidently worn the same color clothes that day.
Glad We Aren’t Running the Hundred
After a small break at our car, we headed out on the third loop. It was obvious that we would be finishing after dark. We kept a moving slow and easy. We were really happy we weren’t running the hundred miler. Those guys looked like they were ready to quit and circling by the car every lap had to be mental torture to keep moving. Although we had discussed the fact that we were happy about being on our last lap, it really settled in when we started the last powerline climb. At that point, the thought of being out there all night doing two more laps seemed crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I did it a few years ago, but that doesn’t make it any less crazy.
We didn’t break any speed records but that wasn’t our plan. We came out to run the distance and do the elevation. We finished up after about 19 hours. Perry joked a bit about us being so slow but it didn’t matter, we did what we set out to do.
We took showers at one of the campground shower houses. We went straight to Waffle House and fueled up for the drive home.