When we arrived, I set up my stuff alongside the side walk just after the start/finish of each lap. Comprised of 14 laps of 4.47 miles, the course is a nice set up for trying out a hydration, eating, and gear plan because you can adjust lap by lap if needed. It was in the high 20s at the start but it was clear and the wind from the previous day had died down - thank goodness! I saw several of my running friends at the start and lined up with my training buddy Gene. We started off at 8 AM and entered the wooded trail. The trail loop was a nice mix of roots and packed dirt, sand, pine straw, smooth path, and a few easy hills. There were two aid stations, the main one at the start/finish and a second one half way through the lap. I was not sure how difficult the course would be never having been there before and knowing that it was single track, but I found it very manageable and a lot of fun to run. From the start, we walked every hill, resisting the temptation to keep running when others passed. I knew that it would be a long day and there would be plenty of time to get the job done. My primary goal was to finish within the allowed 20 hours, with no major issues, and feel I could continue if I needed to. My secondary goal was to finish under 18 hours (should be no problem barring any mishaps). Thirdly, I secretly thought I could finish in about 16 hours if I had a great day and ran very well.
|Jade Wei, Bob Sites, and me at the start (Photo courtesy of Jim Wei)|
|Beginning of the First Lap (Photo Courtesy Jim Wei)|
|Me and Gene having a blast! Really!|
We partook of Jimmy and Doug's piping hot grits on laps 9-13. I had butter and salt with mine and they were awesome. At the main aid station, I enjoyed the delicious burgers, quesadilla, and grilled cheese during the cold night laps. At one point late at night, we paused to look up and were rewarded with a clear dark sky and brilliant stars.
Finally, we started on our final and 14th lap. We moved along, excited to be almost done and acknowledging the landmarks we had taken to naming during the day. We relished our last passes through Anita Hill, the Tree of Death, Fudge Mountain, Living on the Ledge, Horse Poop Ridge, Son of a Ditch, and Red Clay Rambler. Gene had named most of them as he had a knack for it. We were about a half mile from the finish when we saw lights up ahead. I heard Jim Wei say "Is that you Lauren?" and I answered it was me. We soon caught Jim, his wife Jade and Carolyn Quarterman. We were maybe a quarter mile from the finish when Jim checked his watch and told us we had three minutes to come in under 17 hours. I had no idea of the time and really no time goal in mind, but when I heard that, I decided I was going to get under 17. Jim told us "If you run like the wind, you can make it." I took off past him, sprinting up the trail with Gene at my heels. I heard Jim hollering behind us and egging us on. After 62.5 miles, I ran as fast as I could up the nastiest part of the course. It was a very rooty steep hill with a few stairs which we had aptly named Stairway to Heaven because the main aid station and the finish of each lap was at the top. I ran hard, concentrating on picking up my feet, not falling and breathing. I shimmied past the bench that had tried to take my hip out all day and then on across the finish line. The clock read 16:59:46 for me and Gene was right behind me. Flo Rida's "Low" began playing on the stereo shortly after and I felt like shaking my booty despite what I had just done. Not sure I could actually get low at the time, but I love that song! Here are the results with splits if anyone is interested: http://www.etinternet.net/~runrbike/WW2012_SPLITS.HTM
This is an excellent event. The course offers just enough challenge to make it fun, but not so much to kill ya. I enjoyed the varied terrain of smooth wide path, narrow single track full of roots, sand, boardwalks, bridges, and rolling hills. The aid stations and volunteers are superb, the shirts are nice capilene ones, and the finisher's prizes are cool local pottery. I would definitely do this one again.
|Some of the Usual Suspects: Jim, Jade, Carolyn, Gene, me, and Jimbo|
|Me, hubby Chad, and the kids at the finish. (Photo courtesy of Jim Wei)|