Monday, January 6, 2014

Harbison 50K 2014

The 4th annual Harbison 50K was held on Saturday January 4th 2014 in Columbia, SC at Harbison State Forest.   Dan Hartley was the original founder and Race Director, but this year he passed the torch to David Nance.  The event ended up selling out a few days before the start which is a strong indication to how great the race is.  I have actually only ran this race as a sweep once before so I was looking forward to enjoying it as just a "runner" this time.

The course itself is a 15.5 mile loop that is ran twice in the same direction.  The first 8-9 miles are very windy, but mainly flat with a few rocks & roots.  The final 6-7 miles of the loop included a few hills with some more technical sections to have fun with.  Overall, this is a very fast course for the average runner and I'm sure a lot of people set personal best times on it.
As 2013 winded down I had some major turmoil in my personal life.  I considered giving up running and just heading back into the gym to stay healthy.  The emotional roots of ultra running have grown so deep into my heart and its become increasingly difficult to face a big race while carrying a burden.  I went back & forth about the decision all week before Harbison.  One part of me begged to withdraw from racing & my running friends.  Quietly fading away into my personal little world where everything is safe.  I know better than that from experience.  That personal little world leads to depression and isolation which opens up the door to poor eating & health choices.  Then before I realize it, I'm back over 300 pounds on the couch and I'm not sure how many more times I can pull myself out of that situation again.  So I decided to run for my friends, for the pain, and honestly out of fear of slipping away.  So I just put on my shoes and mindlessly went to run in the woods all day.
On the flip side I have what is probably another sickness.  I love for things to go wrong and hurt during a long run.  This includes both my physical & mental well being.  I'm at a point now where I don't always enjoy the first 30-40 miles because for the most part they come fairly easy.  I prefer the miles after 50 where your body & mind begin to wrestle.  I'm forced to live in the moment and the other pains from life disappear for hours.  That's the very spot that I crave to live in.  I feel closer to God, safer, and more loved when I'm completely destroyed from the inside out than anywhere else. 

Back to the race itself.  I was able to share some miles with Angela, Laura, Brian, and several other friends over the course of the day.  Angela was celebrating her 35th birthday and as an added bonus Tim brought her some pork rinds and mustard the aid station he was working.  This was one of the best treats I've ever eaten during an ultra.  As a matter of fact, I ran the final three miles carrying the bag and munching on them all the way into the finish.

David (Race Director) and all of the volunteers put on a stellar event.  The course was marked perfectly and the aid stations had so many food/drink choices.  If you're thinking about a 50K around the New Year in 2015, this race needs to be the one you run.

After over seven hours it felt good to be finished.  I honestly did want to go run some more and enjoy the trail, but my legs were aching from too many holiday drinks & goodies.  Looking back this was my 67th ultra marathon that I've completed since May 2009.  It was a pivotal run that wasn't about time or endurance, but realizing how much I love the simple act of running.  


  1. Slip away from us? No, no, no. Glad you ran. And if you're struggling, just call us and we'll be here for you.

    1. I appreciate it. Of course you won't get rid of me that easy anyway.

  2. Alright! Congrats on Ultra # 67! Man, you know that I can relate to the whole malaise/weight gain thing, because early-to-mid 2013 was a bad time for me. There are times when the last thing in the world I want to do is go out for a run, but I always feel rejuvenated after I've put in some miles with great friends. Give me a ring if you ever want to talk! (As long as it's not about eating mustard during ultramarathons...geez...)

    1. Yep, Jason - you and I have so much in common with the battles we face. I appreciate the support bro. You really do need to try the whole mustard deal too!