Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
Long story short is that Rik got talked into running this race just a couple of weeks ago by some of his crazy running buddies. So he quickly tried to add in a couple of hill repeats to get ready to run in the mountains down in VA!
As luck would have it, hurricane Sandy passed through the week before the race and managed to dump MANY inches of snow on the course. At first, certain roads were closed but by the time race day came around the roads had been reopened but it was suggested to use AWD to access certain aid stations. It was also reported that while there was no snow remaining at the lower levels that there was infact up to 2ft of snow higher up the mountain. They were sure to have an interesting run this year!
We headed down early Friday morning to The Aid Station to pick up their race packets. While we were there Krissy Moehl and Dr. David Horton showed up. Pretty cool to meet them! Then we headed over to the campground. We were staying at the starting line campground in this point to point race which meant that we would not have to wake up any earlier then necessary for the start Saturday morning.
We took a quick hike from the start line thru a short section of trail and up onto the road for over a mile. Then turned on to a fire road for about another mile until the runners would have their first creek crossing. Since we didnt feel like getting our feet wet we turned around and went back.
We got to bed at a decent hour and soon enough the alarm went off at 5am to get up and get ready. Runners had to check in at 6am and the race went off at 6:30. Here are the guys getting ready...
|Rik, Brian, and Eric|
We made it in plenty of time to see Rik come into the aid station. He was still feeling good and making great time. This AS was at almost 22 mile point and everyone was still looking really good except for the fact that they were beginning to understand just how much of the course was fire roads and exactly what that meant in terms of their running. Here is Rik coming down a fire road to the AS...
|Still smiling trying to figure out what to snack on!|
They had an AS at about the 26mile point and immediately after that started their biggest climb of the race. This is also where they had their drop bags and could change to warmer/drier clothes, gloves, hats, etc. They would travel about 2000ft up the mountain until we would see them at the 32mile AS. This is when they would start to encounter the snow. Luckily at this point it was melted off of the actual trail.
Rik said that his legs/hip flexor was bothering him from the constant pounding on the fire roads. He stopped to eat some soup but wouldnt take any Ibuprofen. Tim and I walked up some of the next hill with him and he was happy to have the company. Once he was ready to run again we turned around and went back down. Just then Brian & Eric came in. They were still feeling pretty good and just kept it moving at a steady pace. Tim hiked back up the hill again with them as well.
Just a side note to say that Tim was supposed to run this race with them but has a pretty severe back injury and is currently unable to run at all. To say that he was restless waiting at the AS would be an understatement. You could tell how bad he wanted to be out there on the trails with them.
Once the guys left this AS they would enter the loop. The loop is a 5 mile loop with an additional out and back section to an over look which was new to the race this year. This would be there snowiest section but also the only single track section of the race. These are some of the pictures Rik took of this section...
|Over 2 feet in some places (which was better then the hip high snow that it was just days before the race!)|
|View from the lookout|
|High above the mountain|
We could REALLY tell a difference in the runners coming thru here. Before this AS there were only 8 people that dropped. By the time we were here there were over 20 some that had dropped. Evidently the loop and the snow on the loop were really proving to be an even bigger challenge then just the trails themselves.
Our guys finally came through. All three were hurting and just wanted to be done. They were all cussing the fire road type trails but all in very good spirits! We got them some food and drinks. Then walked them part way up the next hill telling them that they "only" had 9 miles to go! Little did we or they know that those 9 miles would include more hill climbing on the fire roads and more snowy trails.
Riks ITB starting bothering him in the last couple of miles after coming down a steep decline. Which meant he was actually happy to see the paved road ahead that signaled the last mile to the finish. Here he is coming into the finish!
|Rik and the mountains he just ran behind him.|
|Stopping for a kiss before hitting the finish line.|
Brian & Eric finished strong right behind Rik! They all did so awesome!!
We hung out at the finish line for awhile but decided to head back to the campground before it got to dark. I kinda wish we would have hung out longer. They said that the last half hour was the best watching those last runners come through.
See they extended the usual 12 hr cutoff to 12:30 hr cut off because of the trail conditions and those people that came in that last 1/2hr were even more grateful to have the extra time. Im sure it was epic!
From what I have seen people saying who have run the race before is that the weather conditions on the loop put set them back an upwards of 60mins then previous years. And many people even decided not to go on after that section.
What a great time and a great race! This race is perfect for anyone looking for a challenging mountain race on the East coast with a true history. Just know that there is next to no single track in those 50 miles though.