Rock/Creek

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Barkley Fall Classic- Judgment Day

Huntsville Runners
Everything that I did not want to happen did...everything I wanted to happen did not. After the 2015 BFC 50K finish I said I would NEVER do it again. As soon as Laz sent out the email for registrations, it took one email from Tim Pitt and I was signed up for 2016. My fears this year were being alone, getting in a train going down after the first climb, suffering, DNF'ing and getting hurt. 

30 minutes before start I had only let out little chocolate salamander and just knew I would be dropping pie somewhere on the initial climb. Going up the road I saw everyone of my friends pulling ahead of me. We begin the initial climb which kills the lower back and there are these two "Corporate" type guys using big "business" people type words and talking about how they write down their feelings at work and share with a group. Next listening to people pontificating "what the Barkley means", then the newby who wants to pass me going up hill with 3 feet between me and the guy in front of me. The girl talking loudly making no sense. I make it to the top and it happens again. Stuck behind a train on the downhill. I felt my frustrations rising and had to realize these people are just doing what they can do, they don't have the problem, I do. I'm able to pass a few people and eventually pass the train conductor. Finally, some running. 
Tyler Harbin- Photo by Misty Wong

I started feeling good on the two big subsequent climbs and could see two of Huntsville's hottest runners in front of me. (so I don't get beat up by their significant others, we'll change their names and call them Dana and Christy). Feeling good and in my own little world I begin to wonder why the front of my legs were experiencing an unpleasant sensation.....SON OF UH!...OH MY LORD! OH GOD! WHAT THE CRAP! I am covered in yellow jackets. Arms are flailing, stings to the ear, head, back, quads, butt and ankles, I take of running and pass three people as I am getting gang raped by these demons. My entire body is in hell's flames. My thought is, "I'm gonna die out here." I see Dana and Christy and they had been hit too so, no sympathy from them. Next I hear these intense screams down below where I had just been. A shrill echoed through the woods akin to someone being hacked by Jason,  and sawed by the Texas Chainsaw dude. More and more people were getting hit. I make it to the aid station to find 2 more friends had gotten hit. 

YELLOW JACKET STING COUNT:
Me- 37
Dana- 8
Christy- 15
David Nast -18
Ryan Chaffin- 70

Testicle Spectacle-Photo by David White
My buddy Martin Schneekloth was not far ahead and has to carry an epi-pen...He had just missed the nest which could have ended in disaster for him. Ryan was PIZZED and David was not completely coherent. As we leave the aid station you can still here the screams. We finally get some flat running and I am trying to process everything that just happened. 

We get to the Jeep road section, you know the sections where Laz and Steve say the course is "WELL MARKED!". What they mean is that the course is well marked on the map they give you. It's up to you, the runner, to figure some things out. We come to a closed gate and wonder if we are going the right way. We figured we were when we looked at the wood portion and could see the b@LL sweat running down it where others before had lapped their legs over to cross. 

I feel my legs fading quickly on the jeep road, but never questioned whether I would finish or not up to this point. In these types of races you will go through a range of emotions and you realize if you are up, you will come down, and vice versa. All down the road are stories of the yellow jackets. Out of the woods to Testicle Spectacle and the horror sets in. There was a clear path all the way down, however it involved either rolling down or sliding down...your choice. I chose to go palms on the ground with my face to the ground and slide down on my hands and toes. This worked great until I straddled a briar and it latched on to lil Timmie. 

Photo by Cheryl Miller
As I go down, I pass most all my friends going back up. All I can ask is that they say a prayer for me. I make it to the Church and sit there a few minutes trying to decide if I was going to quit there or not. I choose to continue and at least get to the top of Testicle and down Meth Lab to the prison. On my way up I see a friend sitting down. She replied she needed to catch her breath. Now you must understand the climb back up this powerline cut involves you using your hands and feet. It is so steep with nothing but dry dirt and the occasional briar to grab onto to pull yourself up. I see me friend stopping more so I tell her I'm gonna wait. She tells me to go on, but I have never seen her like this before. She is always strong and consistent. I told her I wasn't going to leave her. We finally make it out of Testicle with multiple rests all the way up. I was done. I was quitting at the prison. 

Going down Meth lab is when things got scary. About 3/4's of the way down her breathing became short and labored. She couldn't get any oxygen. She sits down hoping to catch her breath. The breaths become more labored and she is about to pass out. I sit there for 30-45 minutes thinking she is about to die out there and that if I have to give her mouth to mouth she is going to be pissed when she finds out. All of a sudden she rolls over and begins to puke. Oh my the gagging sounds she made. Then she lets out this sound that I can only describe as if a gorilla was trying to say the word "Artichoke". The sound mixed with voice inflections of an unknown language dialect echoed through area. All of a sudden she stands up and says, "I feel much better now." WHAT! I thought you were about to die, I even cried a little and you spew beef stew everywhere and now you feel better?!?!?!?! We begin walking down the rest of Meth Lab hill laughing about her puke noises. 

Photo by Phil Orndorff
We were done. A friend met us at the road and I was off to the finish line to officially DNF. I knew what was to come with Rat Jaw and I had no shame in quitting. Was it the stings, lack of weekly miles, heat or 18lbs extra that kept me from finishing? Who knows. This is not the kind of race you can really make plans for. I had no clue I could finish last year and I did. I knew I had the capability to finish this year and I didn't. 

I hear the carnage was pretty bad this year. One dude stepped on a rattlesnake (didn't get bit), another got in a hornets nest on Rat Jaw. 

I said I will never go back and I am somewhat confident I mean it.

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