I ran this one in 2009 on the old course. And I was excited to return to run the new course.
Sunday morning I awoke at 4 to drive up to Mountain Rest, South Carolina. I made it on time to sign in with Terri and enjoy the plush facilities, noting the showers available for later.
Suited up and ready to go, we gathered to hear the required pre-race briefing complete with detailed course directions from Terri.
Don't cross the road!
Go that way!
Turn around at the bridge!
The two Jason's had matching outfits to dazzle the onlookers and confuse the competitors.
Terri sent us off promptly at 7 and we started down the Winding Stairs trail for the first out and back section. 3.5 miles out to turn around and return. The out section had lots of down and made for great running on fresh legs.
I was in line running behind the two Jason's before JRogers pulled over to tie his shoe. Double knots are your friends.
Following Greta down the trail. See how fast we're moving?
Sully pulled ahead and I chased Greta to the turnaround. We met Sully just before the turn. He's kinda hard to spot here in the video but look for the yellow. :)
Running back on this section wasn't too bad as the grade was gentle. We made the turn at Big Bend trail and climbed a bit steeper before the first aid station. One of the excellent aid station workers grabbed my bottles and refilled them for me. I grabbed some snacks and got out of there with Janis' voice in my head telling me to get through the stations quicker.
Running down Big Bend trail.
More good running on the Big Bend trail down to the Foothills trail at the river. I noticed more flagging on the trail than I had seen at any of Terri's races. So no worries following the course.
First glimpse of the river and we're glad to see it.
The trail follows the river for a few miles with short ups and downs. I came up on Viktor on this section as he was working the hills. Viktor ran the Saturday edition of the race and was the only runner to return on Sunday for the double. A very tough man.
I had to work hard to keep up.
I followed Viktor as he ran looking for Sully up ahead. We caught Sully and company before the second aid station and Viktor pulled away. Sully kept me on course and we were glad to get to AS 2 in good time.
Once again I had help with my bottles and got out quickly. Ahead of Viktor and Sully, I pushed the downhill section to the turnaround at the bridge, greeting the faster runners working their way back.
I was really glad to get to the bridge and start back. Sully wasn't far behind and neither was Viktor.
Touch the bridge and turn around.
Jason Rogers was also running well but worried about an 11 mile death march. Thankfully that wouldn't happen today, as Jason recovered from his low spot to finish strong.
Glad to be out there!
I made the climb back to the second aid station and made sure to drink all my water before refilling both bottles. Next was a long stretch back to the finish with no aid.
Excellent volunteers taking care of us.
Nice spread of goodies. The banana bread was terrific!
I took some snacks and kept moving.
I had begun the day thinking I would finish between the two Jason's. Now I was ahead of both and trying to make good time to stay that way. I knew Sully was a stronger runner but thought he'd be tired after running Laurel Valley the weekend before.
Still enjoying the views on the way back.
Moving well, I came up on several runners that had somehow made wrong turns. I assured them we were headed the right way and we moved on together. One bottle was already empty and I stopped at the river for a refill using my Steripen to purify.
Here I still think Sully is behind me. :)
The lost runners recovered well and I didn't see them again. I ran on to the junction and couldn't really see how somebody took a wrong turn. Lots of flagging was in place and I turned back up Big Bend trail for the last section.
I was thinking Sully would catch me any time through here but kept pushing. And stopped at a creek crossing to refill another empty bottle. This time I made a better move by walking on while the Steripen worked on the water.
As usual, this last section seemed to go on and on. But finally made it to the road and the location for AS 1. That aid station had been closed down and a case of water was left behind. The faster runners enjoyed that water and I found empty bottles. Don't tease me! :)
From here it was downhill to the turn for the finish and I ran on in with tired legs. Richard Schick is fresh as a daisy as he's showered and rested at the finish waiting on Jason Rogers.
Shaky finishing video with Schick looking good!
After shooting that video, I look over to the food area and there's Sully enjoying the BBQ. I yell at him, "What the heck?!" and one of the other guys tells me that Sully snuck by me while I was getting the first refill from the river.
Classic. I was expecting Sully to come running up behind me and he was already in front. He said he was looking over his shoulder all the way back. It was a good move. :)
Shortly after, Jason Rogers came in running strong. Viktor also finished strong looking like he could go out again on Monday and run it again for the third day in a row.
Terri has some great chicken cooking for BBQ sandwiches with baked bean, potato salad, and a most excellent watermelon. That watermelon was really, really, really good.
After enjoying a couple of sandwiches and mucho watermelon, I headed to the showers. And that was a treat to get cleaned up before the ride home.
Finish time was 7:48. Thanks to Terri and her volunteers for a great race on a beautiful course.