(Mar 22, 2014 – Mar 23, 2014)
Trail Gods? Weather Gods? Ultra Gods?
What can I really say about this race? It’s been two years since I completed it and I still remember the pain the course allowed me to enjoy. It was my 2nd ever 100 miler. The first of three in the Pinhoti Slam. The course consists of five twenty mile loops with a bit over 5000 ft of climb for each loop. I had a crew and I had a pacer. Martin Schneekcloth was on his journey to recovery and helped me out knowing it would be difficult.
At this race, I started learning that we don’t have control over our race. We start the race with the illusion of control but we have none. I’m not religious at all so I like to think of the race outcome being controlled by the many “Gods” that may or may not help or hurt you during the race. When I say Gods, I’m really just referring to all aspects of a race that we have no control or influence over. ie…forces beyond our control. (Trail, Ultra, Weather Gods are the primary ones but there are others)
A few things worth calling out are:
I got lost twice. DOH! One time was kinda the race directors fault and one was 100% my fault. The first time I took a wrong turn at an aid station that had no volunteers present yet. With no volunteers at aid station, the lights that they had planned to use to ensure the runners ran the correct direction wasn’t turned on. Me and a few other runners ran down the wrong trail thinking we were running on the correct tail because of the trail markings. Oh well, you live, you run and you learn. After that little blunder, that started running harder and missed a turn that I should have seen. Good stuff! These are the events during a race that makes you question your sanity. This happened to me on the first loop of five.
I thought for sure I was in last place for the majority of the race. Somehow, due to many of the runners dropping out and runners spending time at aid stations I ended up finishing the race in third place (http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=24854#id538952) with 32 hours and 50 minutes of trail running glory.
The race hurt. I was in pretty good shape but I wasn’t in the right kind of shape. Since that race, I have learned that running a race with lots of elevation requires a training routine that builds leg strength.
As with all longer, difficult events, I really witnessed and experience how no one can predict who will do what in these races. I ran sixty miles convinced that I would finish the race in last place. Turns out that on a loop course after about three loops the mental aspect of the course starts getting the best of many of the best runners. The reward of finishing goes to the runner willing to endure the darkness brought on by repetition and exhaustion.
Perry Sebastian is the race director and just a great guy. He runs a laid back race that you can count on remembering. I appreciate what Perry does and I appreciate the fact that you get your moneys worth with his races.
Fort Mountain State Park in Georgia is awesome. The campground is a great place to host a race. My family and I plan on camping there in the future.
Special thanks to crew and family:
- Martin and Mace Schneekcloth
- Wonda, September and Jeri
I have no clue what I wore during the race with any certainty. The only thing I think I can say is that I’ve changed everything. It’s remarkable how experience and time on your feet helps you weed out what works and what doesn’t.
Without specifics being called out, here’s a few statements about gear.
- I wore Hokas at this race. I do not wear Hokas an more due to blisters. I had toe blisters when I finished this race.
- CEP compression socks worked for me back then and I still wear CEP compression socks. I used the same pair for two years before I had to buy more.
- Body Glide/Took caffeine pills to stay awake when necessary
- Red UD vest (The largest one SJ model)
- All other gear isn’t worth mentioning… Standard running shorts
This is a short report but I didn’t want to forget this race entirely. It was my second 100 miler and was key for me to understand how little I knew about ultra running. I finished this race knowing I had much to learn and it was going to take some time and many more races for me to start to begin to master ultra running.