PROLOGUE (Not really sure what that is)
How come none of you hundred mile rednecks ever told me about the salty crack. You could have saved me some major anal irritation. And whats the deal with not being able to taste food the next day? Anyway, I started the trip off wrong by forgetting my toothbrush. See the results later.
The race begins at the Ocoee Whitewater Center directly on the foot bridge crossing the river. Immediately after crossing the bridge we begin ascending. Walking the inclines and gingerly running the flats and downhills. Within a couple of miles I cannot see Benj or Shar anymore and find myself running with a couple of guys I did not know. This dude talked more than Rebecca Reynolds and Suzanne Erickson. So I hear him say..."When this is over, I'm gonna take my wife to get her nails done, get some food, and find an Asian chic to rub my butt". Whats funny is we are Facebook friends now. I wonder if he has heard my Hong Kong Massage story?
We begin our descent to the Thunder Rock campground which crosses the Ocoee and the road taking you to the trail. As soon as I hit the pavement a huge hailstorm hits. It was Hailmuhgeddon. Crew and aid station people were running in all directions for cover. Randy just stood in the road, smiled and shook his head.
TO THE CABIN
After passing Thunder Rock we climb and enter a beautiful trail system, and are hit with yet another hail storm. As we reached the top there was so much hail that it looked liked snow on the ground. Finally the sun comes out, the plants are green and wet, and we are just relishing the day. The Rock Creek Sweetheart herself, Kimber Keplinger, caught me and we ran together for a couple of miles. Eventually Kimber sees a beaver and goes off trail to pet it. I press on and come up on a white tail deer.....oh no wait...I mean a white girl pulling her pants up. This gal was a cutie till she started talking.
|Bridge to Cabin-Course on Right|
As Jeff and I round the Hiawassee Outfitters towards the Reliance aid station, it looked like we were entering a hippie camp. Yet, it was still a beautiful scene with the river on the right and occupy wall street people on the left. I was concerned about my friend Benj, and told his crew that no matter how far back he was to tell him that I was just ahead.
After crossing the bridge over the Hiawassee is when the trail running got hard. While it was amazing running next to the river, the trail was difficult with rhythm busting sections. I decide to lay in the river for a while to refresh my legs. As I began to run I was very refreshed. At one point before we reached the flat pavement section I was running the nice dirt track when something that looked like a black condom caught my eye. I looked a little too long and caught the only root on that section of trail. Face plant.
Darkness began to fall as I reached Coker Falls. I made it to the top where my crew was stationed. My crew was so amazing (Martin Schneekloth, Jerry Abbott, and Scott Bell). They quickly fed me, changed my socks and shoes, and Martin made me put on my arm sleeves. As I leave the darkness hits, and I am in my hoka's for the long road section. Normally I am really afraid of the dark, however, I was ok, even though I was in banjo country by myself with a salty butt.
I completely missed the turn to the Manning Cabin aid station. As I crested the hill I saw headlights and said told them they were off course....It was Blaine Beining, and the joke was on me. I was distraught and contemplated what I should do. To avoid a DQ I went back and made it to the aid station and all my anxiety went away when I saw Fred Doss and that cheese pizza.
I finally make it to mile 50 where my first safety runner, Jerry, joins me for 15 miles. I downed a Red Bull and cheese kaysudilla heading out for my last 50. Beautiful clear sky and bright moon.
Somewhere after Bullet Creek I began to crash. My speech slowed and volume lowered. I began to have that tingly feeling. All of a sudden I heard what sounded like something stepping on a stick. Immediately, I began to think a bobcat was tracking me. I would turn around real quick to shine my light on him. After about 3 times I told Jerry to walk next to me cause I was afraid the bobcat was gonna get me. In reality, I was hoping the bobcat would choose him.
A guy and a girl are closing in on us and eventually they catch us and I hear their voice say my name in a concerned tone. It was Benj and his safety runner Megan. They were shocked to see me in the state I was in. As a fellow runner, Benj knows me better than most runners. He knew I was not right. What he did next brings tears to my eyes even now. And if any of you say its gay I'll punch you in the throat. He said, "let's hold hands..." So I stuck my hand out. It was good cause there was someone else the bobcat could get.
|Me and Jeff Deaton|
I barely make it to Star Mountain...It seemed like I was coming off anesthesia. Martin give me a caffeine pill and a Red Bull to wash it down. Well evidently I wasn't chewing like a German and he yells at me to start chewing. Scott Bell picks me up and we head out for the ridgeline. Within a few minutes I was a new person and began to run with purpose. We catch my friends James Suh and Jeff Deaton. Jeff's IT band flared up causing him to pull out.
My goal all along was to reach the second Iron Gap by sunrise. We made it there at 6:11 (eastern). Chewed another caffeine pill and headed for the Hiawassee 8.5 miles away. Earlier on around mile 25, the top of my calf where it goes in the knee pit was hurting pretty bad. By this point it hurt to walk, but was ok running. While running down to the Hiawasee all I could think about was getting in the water to refresh my legs. As we hit the boat ramp I got in the water thinking I was doing good. What I did was actually lock up my whole body. I felt like the wooden pinochio running to actual crossing.
I finally make it across the river in waist deep freezing water and begin to cross the road to the aid station. Scott tell me to watch out for the car. This car kept getting closer and all of a sudden the lady yells out my name. It was Randy and Kris Whorton. She sticks her had out the window and tells me to take a bite of her bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. I took a bite and she said I looked great, and then stated "We love you"....I broke me. Reached the stank potty to change and it took me about 15 minutes to change out of my wet clothes into something warm.
In the midst of all the pain, Martin takes over as safety runner and force feeds me eggs, and potatoes. We climb fairly
well up the 2200' climb which began around mile 83. Reaching the top is the point where runners are able to make up so much time due to the long road downhills. Unfortunately, I could not.
We reach the lake to be greeted by a Rabbit and Mouse...All I'm saying is if they would have jumped out at me in the dark....
Pouring, freezing rain. Then the nice friendly double track is diverted back to single track with climbing around every turn. Martin did his best to get me to run, however, my knee was hurting more than ever. It was so bad that I farted and Martin said that it dried his mouth out, and I didn't even laugh. All I could think about was getting to the finish and huggin my wife. If fact for about 30 miles I was singing Vince Gill's "I get weak in the knees".
I crossed the line at 26:16. Hugged my wife and son. I hadn't brushed my teeth in 3 days and took a pic of them.
Janice shuttles me to Raft 1 where I am greeted by the most amazing people. I absolutely love trail runners. I am so grateful for Rock/Creek and Wild Trails for the kindness they show me and everyone else.
Congrats to all my friends who had an amazing day.
Thank you Kris for taking care of me the way you did. We love you guys!
Finally to my crew. You made the difference. I owe you all.
Finally to my crew. You made the difference. I owe you all.