"All the disruptive arguments among my friends as to whether or not I
was sane when I took up marathon running have been entirely resolved
since I ran my first 50-miler."
- John Kendall
"The race continued as I hammered up the trail, passing rocks and trees
as if they were standing still."
- Red Fisher, Wasatch 100miler '86
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far
they can go."
- T.S. Eliot
And now the recap,
Sunday Morning - 7:30am.
The temperature was already hovering around 85 degrees and rising fast! There were 40 of us standing around the starting line….nervously chatting, checking our watches, re-knotting our shoe laces and making small jokes to try to lighten the mood. About 35 men and 5 women were ready to try and push themselves further than they have ever pushed before. Only a few of them had completed an ultra before….the rest, like myself, were here for the first time.
“OK Everyone….get ready….5 seconds…….GO!” These were the last words I heard before tearing off down the asphalt parking lot at a blistering 10minute per mile pace.
The course was more challenging than I could have imagined. In the past few weeks I have been asking around for more info and people told me it was a mistake to make this race my first. It is in the top 3 most difficult 50mile races in the country. People said “at least any other race you try will be a piece of cake compared to this one!” and I now know why. The best way to describe it is to say it is cut into thirds:
1st Third –
BMX Hell! Tons of little “moguls” that crush your calves….the hills were 3-5ft and there were 8-10 of them back to back to back. This leads into the larger 20foot uphill/downhill sections in soft sand that were so steep you had to crawl using your hands to get to the top then slide down the back side on your back-side. Some of the hills were so steep they had to lay down carpeting to keep the sand from “avalanching” under your feet.
2nd Third –
Sahara-Ville. This best describes the mile long patch of 1 foot deep sugar soft sand you had to trek through. No shade, no water….just pounding, relentless heat and calf killing sand! After crossing this sand trap 11 times in a row it starts to feel like a bad episode of ground hog day!
3rd Third –
Shiggy Lane – this is the name given to the half mile bushwacking run….no trail, no footpath….just an arrow sending you through dense foliage that rips at your arms and legs and left you itching, scratching and bleeding all day long.
None of these would have been that bad if you didn’t have to repeat it 14 times in a row, in 95 degree heat w/ 75% humidity and no cloud cover at all.
All in all it was a great day…. And believe it or not……..one I hope to be able to repeat soon.
In the end I spent 11.5 hours running, walking and at one point literally crawling towards my goal of 50miles. I made it 45 miles before being told I would not be allowed to continue because there was not enough time (the park was closing) to complete the last lap and a half to make the 50mile goal.
(Find complete results @ http://www.mattmahoney.net/wickham/ - scroll all the way to the bottom to 2005 for results - I am listed as #21)
Thank you all for your support and more importantly for assisting in raising some cash for a great charity! Together we were able to raise almost $2000 for Hospice Services! In the next week I will have the donation info finalized and will ask you to send you check (made out to hospice services) to me….to be forwarded as a group. You will receive a thank you letter from hospice as well as a receipt to be used for tax purposes.
Doing something like this and asking people to come together for a common charity has been gratifying on many levels……mostly it proves to me what terrific friends I have.
"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must out-run the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.
It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."
Ok….Thanks Again……..gotta run,
Eric “Gump” Friedman