Monday, June 25, 2012

Stage Races 2012

Christy, Sarah, Tim, Cary, Tim, SuZe, Dana, Laura, Will, Blake (not pictured)
The Rock Creek Stage Races 2012 will go down in my book as the best race of the year. A group of average and elite runners from Huntsville, Alabama set out to Raccoon Mtn For an Epic event.

Day 1: Raccoon Mtn, 18-miles of rolling single track that encircles this big lake on top of the mountain. There are some beautiful views extending down the mountain to the lower resevoir. Most trail runners however do not like this course too much. Yes it is fast and considered flat for eastern Tennessee, however, the constant roll makes the entire course runnable which means no big climbs (walks) with equivalent descents.
James and Donita
It became apparent around mile 10 that my pre-race fuel the day before was the wrong choice. Evidently Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits is not the lunch of Elite runners as I peeled off from my running partner Sarah Tierney (she thought we were lost and started to follow me...that would have been a mistake). I ran hard in order to catch her and did but could not overtake her.

We get back to the camp and enjoy spaghetti and sweet potatoes made by James and Donita. I also had a first in my life. Will, Laura and SuZe made me eat a roasted brussels sprout (it wasn't that bad). The day ended with Smore's by a campfire. This seemed to be a highlight and after watching Sarah eat three I encouraged her to eat another, hoping she would have to peel off the next day!
Kelly the fireater

Scott don't realize I peed in the water.
Day 2: Lookout Mtn, 22 miles of big ascents and equal descents. The race starts out down a dirt/gravel road and at around 1 mile we entered the woods to a dead stop. We look up the switchbacks and see all the runners waiting their turn up the mountain to grab onto a piece of rope aiding the runners on the steepest portions. We are in a freakin race and no one is moving! Still, it was cool. After making it past the rope section we continued to climb and climb. This was great because what came next was a wonderful long fast downhill which took us back across a bridge to the starting area crossing to the second leg of the course.  As we completed the second leg we crossed the bridge at the start area to back track our initial 5 miles. The finish was the best...coming back down the ropes and switchbacks we make our way back to the bottom. On the flats coming back there was a beautiful waterfall on our right. We got to a little bridge knowing the finish was just ahead only to realize the honking race directors diverted the course back up and through the woods. We finally cross the finish line and then the best part of the course. Sitting in the river. Oh yeah...there are these  16 and 17 year old sisters from Alabama that beat me every trail race (and most of you too). I beat one of them Pippie Longstocking's that day! (These girls are good) Also say a man who looked like he got stabbed in the nipples with butcher knives...He lactated blood.

Day 3: Signal Mtn, 20 miles of big ascents and not so fast descents. This course was as beautiful as the day before. Very technical with the first few miles a train of runners. I was actually running with Christy Scott and Dana Overton until they thought it best to leave me going back up the mountain from Suck Creek (the nerve of them). Unfortunately I got behind a train of two ladies that I had beat the previous day. Finally getting around them I take off. All of a sudden a guy yells out some sailor like cusswords and grabs his ankle. That dingleberry got stung by a bee. Evidently so did about 30 more people. Around mile 10 I heard a lady say "Oh my God"...I looked up and this man had fallen on the rocks and busted open his head and blood was everywhere. I said dude you need some Aleve? So I gave him two and left. At the top of the mountain there is one of them Pippie Longstocking's...I passed her shortly after. Some of the most beautiful trails winded around a meandering creek. I finally climb back to the top and running the last two miles to the finish. Two things happened. Pippie Longstocking came flying by me around a 7 minute pace. So I did what any man would do. I pushed her down. I don't care...she don't know me like that. Nah, I didn't. I finish the race strong and very proud of what I had accomplished.

Blake Thompson (5th) was the big winner followed by Timothy Pitt (22nd), Scott Schlapman (27th), Will Barnwell (32nd) and Timothy Pitts (35th). The rest of the crew, myself, Dana Overton, Christy Scott, Sarah Tierney, Laura McCrain, and Suzanne Erickson all had respectable times. 
So at the end of the race many people are rinsing off. Well I decide to take it a step farther not realizing Janice was taking a picture... I'm sorry Christy.
Blake Thompson
Will Barnwell

Timothy Pitt

Scott Schlapman
Timothy Pitts