Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Savage Gulf 2014-Running with Rick

Bill Knapp-Photo by Holland
Savage Gulf 2014 proved to continue to be the hardest trail marathon that I have ever ran or heard of...at least in the southeast. A large group of Chattahooligans, Nashsuckians and Huntshonkers gathered together the night before for a campout and campfire feast consisting of salmon, bacon wrapped deer nuts, hamburgers, pasta salad, California rolls, avocado's, hummus, corn, veggies and dutch oven cobbler. 

For the first time in ultrarunning history, two authentic Germans showed up. I introduced Martin Schneekloth to Olaf Talksthesmack (Wasternack), they immediately greeted each other in their native language consisting of a lot of spitting and angry faces. I think they were complementing each others European man-bags or something. Anyway, a wonderful meal followed by a full night of rest to which I equate my sleep as that of a baby coming down the birth canal. First of all Martin was freakin out afraid I was gonna fart in our tent. So I held it all night long just for him. First thing that morning, he rips one. I then commenced the "Shock and Awe" campaign. 

The Waterfall Section-Photo by David Holliday
Me and Trey Campbell-Photo by Dreama
We hit the starting line where Yogi Bear (coolest park ranger ever) gives us the rules in the manner of a Prison warden telling us what to expect during a brown eye cavity search for shanks. Davy Crocket fires the gun and we are off. The goal was to control my running and treat this nothing more than a training run for Thunder Rock. After a few miles we descend down Stone Door on a rock garden trek to the bottom of the gulf. Across some swinging bridges, dry river beds and single track we set out to prove our toughness. I'm running with the White Whiper (Jeff Deaton), Rick Callaway, Tony Scott, David Holliday and Melinda Honkus until the waterfall. This section of the course is in my opinion what makes this race. You come around a corner and it's like you are in a tropical environment, with a nice waterfall that then takes you under a huge rock shelf.
The Rock Shelf-Photo by David Holliday

Shortly after I find its just Rick Callaway and myself at the second aid station on the opposite ridge trek. This trek reminds me of the ridge running at Stump Jump. Being more runnable allows for more casual conversations. This is the point where this race report changes directions, hence the title, "Running with Rick". Running with Rick was not what I expected it to be. A wide range of subjects ensued, however, there was one that stuck with me the most. I'm not sure if he realized it or not, but I got the impression he could see through my "crap", all the way to the kid who lives in an adult body who fears rejection and needs affirmation. Some things during that run he said to me that have echoed in my heart and mind ever since. Again, I'm not sure he even realizes it. I do know that running with Rick has changed my perception of myself. Ultrarunning brings out the sensitive side of me.
Rick-Photo by Sarah Coleman

Upon leaving the ridge there is a long rocky descent back to the bottom of the gulf. The beauty of this section can only be appreciated first hand. Back across more swinging bridges, we make it to the mile 20 water stop for a last refill before the huge climb. Imagine a single track, rolling, boulder section for 3 miles with a rhoid popping climb at the end. Because I had conserved early I has able to tackle this section like never before. As I left the water station I saw Rick turn back for more water, and he never caught back up with me. I decided to do my best to catch Jeff and Martin. During the big climb I caught Dave Thurman and I could see the life suck out of him and transfer into me as I passed him. I like you Dave, but thats what you did to me at Mountain Mist. The last 3 miles are pretty much flat. However, what seems like am 8 minute pace was actually around a 10:40. Nevertheless I PR'd around 10 minutes and felt great at the end.

As with every race I gained some new FB friends. I got a friend request from the 1st place overall male and the 3rd place female along with the Vietnamese Queen with a Polish last name. (Who I wrote about in the Yeti Snakebite report). 

I'm glad Olaf didn't break the 4 hour barrier this year. We had a bet that if he did, I would shave my nipples. He even brought a razor.
Photo by James Suh

Photo by Sarah Coleman

Photo by Sarah Coleman

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