It was great to drive down the night before and hang out with many of the other runners. I was even able to meet a fellow ultralist member Tim Hardy. I was also excited to see my home town of Spartanburg represented by about six runners. I think that may be a first for any ultra that I've ever ran.
And at 7:30 sharp all runners were off and running to the forest to begin the race!
I was a little bummed to be sweeping this race in order to meet my eight hours of service requirement for WS100 later in the summer. I just decided that I would make the best of the day and enjoy a beautiful day of time on my feet. The truth be told, I REALLY wanted to run, but its always good for me to give back. And, eh, well - I had to!
My plan was to hang behind the last runner and pickup litter during the first loop. On the 2nd loop I would be responsible for taking down all of the race signs/ribbons and disposing of them at the aid stations.
I decided that I wanted to do some running early on so I would hang out at the aid stations for a while and then run to catch up with the pack later down the trail. This allowed me to get in some fast miles and still serve my sweeping duties.
The last of the runners covered the first 15+ mile loop in just over 4:45. I realized that this would mean a few may not make the cutoff. Sure enough one runner had to be pulled around mile 26 on the next loop, but she was very proud of hitting a new distance record for herself. It was great to be a part of that moment.
I continued on pulling down the course markings and making my way around the 2nd loop. It was great to not even feel tired after doing so much work and movement all day. I think my training is going in the right direction. I was praying that I wouldn't find another slow moving runner who would have to drop out of the race and I didn't.
Sure enough, I was the final runner to finish with a time of 9:37. I felt good enough to go out and do a couple more loops, but decided to call it quits there :]
I'm glad that I was a part of this growing ultra which will surely turn into one of the more popular 50Ks in the southeast. The course was a good mix of runnable sections and hilly technical areas. I would recommend this one as a first time ultra or a quality race for a seasoned veteran.
I also wanted to say a special congratulations to Kiley B. and Sandie C. for completing their 1st ultras!
It looks like I will be doing a Laurel Valley training run in the next few weeks before hitting the Iron Horse 100 in February. Some excellent winter running lies ahead!