Monday, March 15, 2010

Crowders Mt. "Fun Run" 50K

My friend Aaron Ligon hosted a fun run at Crowders Mt. & Kings Mt. parks on Saturday. He listed the course as challenging with some technical climbs and descents. Going into the run I just didn't think it would be that tough. I live about 30 miles from the parks and the terrain looks SO flat around them. There are two 1,000+ Ft. rock faces that can be seen from I-85, but come on - it couldn't be that tough?!

I met up with running friends Dan H. and Sam just before the 8:30 start in the Crowders Mt. parking area. I met a lot of (fast) new runners too - DC, Mo, Mark, Tim and others. Aaron gave us some last minute navigation tips & warnings just before the run started....
The first mile consisted of a fairly steep gravel road that switched back-n-forth about eight times. Once we climbed to the top of the ridge the trail turned gnarly in a hurry. I was just laughing to myself thinking this is just a little rough patch - it will smooth out soon. HA! The joke was on me!

I felt great during the first miles. Better than normal. The trail remained very rocky & rooty for several miles and then we made the climb up to King's Pinnacle. It was steep. I mean "fun" steep. I wouldn't dare try to run any of this section, but I'm guessing a few of the others probably did. We climbed for about 20 minutes and reached the peak. It was beautiful...

After we peaked here I thought well the hard part is over, the rest of the morning will be smooth sailing. I was so very wrong to think that! We turned around and burned up some quad muscles going back down the spur trail that brought us to the top. Aaron was dashing down the trail. He is a strong downhill runner & I enjoyed watching him pounce over tricky rocks & roots navigating down the mountain.

We reached the bottom and the trail gave us a little bit of runnable mileage as we headed into the 10 mile distance. We came upon another spur trail called "Boulders" and detoured to check it out. It lived up to its name. The whole time I'm thinking, "Is this Pisgah, The Smokies, where am I at?!" Sam behind me climbing down the boulders....

My legs were already beginning to protest this run. It was WAY to early to be feeling this tired. I was proud of myself for not complaining - I just kept talking and running. We reached a ranger station about four miles from the 15 mile turn around and I began to feel a little better. The last five miles of trail had been more runnable and a little easier to navigate. I'm still amazed at how seeing civilization and a cooler full of food can make you feel so much stronger.

Sam decided to drive Aaron's car back to the start after running about 16 miles which helped him out with the end of the race logistics. The guy had food and drinks out for us everywhere! It was just like running an organized race. Plenty of aid and good stuff too - thanks again Aaron!

So Aaron and I are just running & hanging out covering some beautiful single track on a gorgeous spring-like day. I wanted to run a lot, but it just wasn't happening up the hills. I tried several times to get Aaron to run ahead, but he stuck with me for the entire run. I'm glad that he did because I was seriously thinking of cutting the final 2-3 miles off and taking a short cut back to my car.

We had about 1,500 ft. climb / descent over the final four miles and I knew that it was going to be tough. I'm still laughing about us going up 400 ft. of mountain stairs on all fours! It hurt, but felt great to reach the top of Crowders Mt. You could look off the rock face and see Charlotte, NC sitting right below your feet. That put some spunk back in me for the final 2 miles back down the gravel road.

My legs have still not recovered from the Iron Horse 100 miler, but I'm so glad that I did this full 50k. Even though I was the last one to finish at 7:20 (I deducted 30 minutes when we were packing up coolers during the run) I felt good about finish a tough run on tired legs.

I was seriously thinking of cutting back the upcoming Chattooga 50k to a 25k, but my friend Wayne D (Weezy) just isn't gonna hear that. I gotta get my head & legs right for it because its happening in twelve days! I know that its gonna be tough, but so will the Pinhoti 100 Miler in November....


  1. Wow! That photo at the peak just takes your breath away. I can only imagine how beautiful it was to actually be there!! Congrats on a kick ass fun run!

  2. Excellent report! I love Crowders, so glad we now have the parks connected, creating a great opportunity for long runs and an ultra event.

  3. Love the report! The pictures look awesome :-) I hope you have a great week!

  4. Jason - great report; awesome run. I enjoyed it, glad we could get everyone together, and the weather cooperated. I'm with you on the cooler. That PB&J hit the spot!

    The two of us crawling up those last few stairs was classic.. i didn't see that glorious "sprint" to the finish in the report!!!!