I rode down to Georgia on Friday and stayed with my buddy Weezy the night before the race. We chowed down some great Mexican food and were in the bed at 10:00 PM to ensure lots of rest.
After a short hour drive to Sweetwater Park about 250 registered runners (race filled up) lined up to begin the race. Pictured above from left is me, Jason Rogers, and Weezy. The race is widely known for its two river crossings and due to heavy storms the night before the course had to be changed. This changed included removing the river crossings from the challenge. I think lots of runners were a little bummed about it, but it was for the best.
The race began promptly at 7:30 and we were off and running. The first mile section is ran on pavement and gives plenty of space and time for runners to seperate and fall into their correct positions. I ran this section very slow and decided that this was the day for me to finish a race and not blow up. I found my friend Jason Rogers and decided that I would run with him for a while.
Of course when you reach the other side you have to pull yourself back up and onto the trail. So after only two miles in your feet are soaked.
I was feeling great through here and still buzzing off the excitement of the race. It was a blast to joke around with Jason and some other runners as we made our way towards the river section of the race. I've realized that the social aspect of ultra running is just as important to me as the running itself. We work so hard to train and get in shape for this stuff. It's OK to enjoy other's company while you are racing.
We went down a very technical/rocky trail that took us to the river. This is a tricky section to get through, but it doesn't last long at all. And once your through it the views and terrain beside the river is incredible! Soft & sandy rolling little hills as you hear the water raging beside you.
We reached what would have been the river crossing and there is no doubt that race official made the correct choice in shutting it down. The river looked like it could be a class 4-5 rapid and it would be way to dangerous for fatigued runners to cross.
We ran a lot of this section with David who I met at FATS 50K and Pinhoti. It was great to pace with him and share some of the old war stories that we had from the prior year.
After my previous four months of general running burnout I was really hoping that Jason R. would be able to pace well and that we could stay together today. For me it was all about getting a solid 50K finish under my belt and I knew this would be easier with a friend.