Turkey and Taturs has come and gone. For a race that revered Race Director Brian Hoover was worried about, this 4th running went off like greased mud. We had 210 people sign up, and 200 finishers. We had rain, we had mud, we had slow times, and a lot of fast times too. And we had FUN!
My day started at 3:30 when after slapping the alarm clock silly, I rolled out of bed and puled my runnin' duds on. I planned to take a very early start to check the course markings. Somehow, I thought if I could get a 2 hour and 30 minute head start, I could beat the front runners to the starting line. What was I thinking???? That I could run 15.5 miles, and tie ribbons, remark trails where mountain bikers had blown through the caution tape, and do so with only a 150 minute head start?? Did not happen. I left at 4:15 am, equipped with pink ribbon, signs with directional arrows, some tacks, a small hammer, my water bottle strapped to my wrist, my Shot Bloks, camera, and that's about it. 1/2 mile into the course, I saw eyes in the woods. Of course, my innerds jumped through my throat after seeing the big cat a couple days earlier. I did take this picture.There were two sets of eyes, and I knew immediately it was not the mountain lion, and in fact it was a couple of deer. It was slow going as I had to remark around a 1/4 mile of trail where some people are illegally camping on one of the hills. I think they are homeless people, and have trashed up their area in a major way. I am thinking they thought they could divert the race from going by their site by pulling ribbons? Several pink ribbons were missing through this section. Also, one intersection had the caution tape moved to divert runners to a wrong trail. Either that, or I marked it wrong the previous day, which I doubt. There were two other areas where someone had broke through the caution tape marking off wrong turns even though we had drooped the tape low on the ground. But it was all fixed. That was the plan. I reached the second aid station, and the first that had people at it (since I had started so early) and I was the second runner through. It was kind of cool to be at that point in the course and running with the gazelles. I was at 7 miles, and had taken 3:48 to get there. I decided that I would dump the back pack, the hammer, nails, and signs, and just go with some pink ribbon to fix problem areas. Turns out, I only needed ribbon at one further intersection. Now I could run, and picked up my 32 minute pace to a nice 16 minute per mile average. I was just slow this day. All during the race, I was passed. I passed no one at all, except my foe from last year who looks like he had decided to just pack it in.
The rain began about 7:30 am. It rained heavy for maybe 10 minutes, and then lightly for a couple of hours. I have ran this race before in the rain, and the more it rains, the better the mud. There are several different kinds of mud on Turkey Mountain. Worst of all is the nasty clay which clumps to your feet and acts like leg weights. The Powerline trail has some of this, and the trail between the ridge and Ho-chi (some call it the Hi-chi) has some darker clay-like mud. This trail is usually one of the toughest anyway due to the rocks, but was a major workout due to the pounds and pounds of med on the shoes. Then there is mud that might dirty your shoes but nothing else, and mud that is only in water puddles. On the west side, we had a few miles of mud that was like tar. It stuck to your shoes, but it did not cake up. Instead, it was sticky, slimy, and slick. (We'll call it 3-S mud, although some people had other names for it.) The downhills were treacherous unless you treated them like a ski slope. Going back up was like going up a downward escalator, but one covered with slimy mud.
One of the cool things about this race, is that the 50Kers do the second loop in reverse. (No, they do not run backwards.) A slow poke like me gets to see all the people as they come back on their second loop. With my 2:15 head-start, I found that I actually had a few people still behind me, and most of them passed me.Kathy and Jason motored along all day through the rain and fog. My nephew Jeff caught me at the halfway point, and ran a mile or so with me before going on ahead.
The start/finish area was abuzz as all the 10Kers and 25Kers were through and a party atmosphere was in full tilt. I briefly thought about stopping, but remembered that I was trying to make this 3 marathons in 2 weeks, and made my self head back out. I had a hamburger in hand as I started back up the hill and into the woods. At one point, just before Jeff left me in the dust, we came upon a treadmill some !!%@#))#SOB%*@! had dumped. I told Jeff that the 50K course was about a quarter mile short, and he had to run the shorted mileage on the treadmill.(Oh well, thought it might have made a good pic.)
Finally, after I was 1.5 miles out from the start, I met Lisa. I was 3 miles ahead of her, and I was worried about her finishing.Turns out, I again underestimated her. She is one tough runner and does not know the meaning of quit. If I had been able to do UN-fuzzy math, I would have realised that I had a 2:15 hour head-start, and now she was only 3 miles behind me. In the end, she finished only 8 minutes behind me. And I thought I ran fairly well my last loop!
Soon afterward, I was caught by Cindy, who is a regular in the RunnersWorld group.She had done a ton of marathons, and at least one other 50K, as well as a few trail races. But this was her first TRAIL 50K, and did she ever pick out a hard one to do. I was glad to have her company, and she had me running a little faster than I might have otherwise. She later said that she was dreading the 2nd loop. Good conversation makes the run go faster.
All the aid stations were good, but the one Bobby, Susan, and Christen were at was my fave.As has become a custom, Bobby has a secret stash of beer for me my 2nd trip through. No pics of me downing that wonderful barley-and-hops flavored gatorade, but my buddy Tom posed for a pic with his drink of choice!I blogged late last night, and in my sleepy stupor, I forgot to thank my friend Bobby for his awesome "crew-babe" duties. Thank you, Bobby, Susan, and Christen, and thank you Blogspot for allowing updates!
On and on, miles and miles we went.Some years, sections like this are the worst Turkey throws at you. This year, the mud made it much more of a challenge.
Finally, after 9:33 for Cindy, and 11:48 for me, we made it to the finish line. This was my slowest 50K ever, although I think I could have run a 9:00ish if I did not have to mess with the course markings.We still had friends waiting for us at the finish line and crossed the finish hearing shouts of praise and applause. Life was good!
Dana worked her hiney off cooking hamburgers and was the refueling queen of the finish line.She had a burger in my hand within 22 seconds of my finish, and worked flipping patties and literally putting out fires all day long.
I had trouble deciding between eating a hamburger, hot dog, or the sloppy Joes that Vicky brought. I ended up eating all three! All were delicious, but the SJs were the best! Thanks Vicky....you were right, and I was glad there was some when I finished!
Kathy guards the beer keg!
Lisa wins an age group award!
As do Cindy and Kathy! Hey, I run with fast women!
Three Superstars who are all now 5-Star Marathon Maniacs!!!!
Now let the Zombie sleep!
One last pic. I knew I was having toe problems and had taped my pinky in advance.Believe it or not though, it is 99% better now, and I ran tonight with no pain at all.
Next year, Turkey and Taturs will be bigger and better than ever. It will mark the return of Dana's chili, and more wonderful junk food that runners can eat guilt-free after finishing their race.