Monday, June 28, 2010

Barkley Book Fair 2010

Last Saturday night was the fifth running of the Barkley Book Fair. This race is fashioned after the Barkley Marathon, a race in Tennessee which is actually much more than a mere marathon--100 miles with over 52,000 feet of elevation change--6 miles of climbing?!?!? Well, my little event has some nice vertical sections, but probably has only 1,200 feet of elevation change at most.
12 runners toed the line for the day run. The early version of the BBF took off just after 7:00 pm. There were a quite a few first-timers in this event, including Arena, Kirk, Ben, Cory, and a couple of others whose names I will insert later when I find my book of entries that was misplaced when we were picking things up.
Five books were placed on the day course over the 4.5 miles. Some of the titles were Dead Mans' Walk, Journey to Forever, Dead I well May Be, Vertical Run. Four book titles you may ask?? Well, there were five books on the course but not one runner found all five. My first thought was that one of the books had been swiped, but at least one page was torn form all five of the books. So, there were no official finishers. Nikki, Cory, Ben, and runner 4028 came across the line first with pages from four of the five, so they were the unnofficial winners.

The night run has to start--well, at night. So, with the day runners finishing by 8:30, we had some time to kill between the races.So, we hung out and caught up on all the running stuff.Tom, RockStar, and Kate rehydrate after a sweatfest of a run.

Brian spends his time between the races deciding whether or not he is gonna do the night run. He decided he was under-hydrated and spent the next few hours addressing that problem.

Kirk took a spill and got his pretty new MM50 race shirt dirty. Kirk debated the to-run-or-not-to-run dilemma for the night run, and finally decided to go for it.
Who says trail running is not a spectator sport? We had more fans for the day race than we had runners.

Finally, the daylight began to wane, and I made the announcements, passed out maps and directions, and sang the Star Spangled Banner. (J/K about the singing, although next year.....) I did pass out spiderweb sticks for the fast runners and for those who thought they might get lost.19 runners went out on the night run in search of 13 books. I would have liked to have ran with them, but felt the need to get to the bluffs to help with a dangerous ascent up the face. Last year, I heard that a particular runner felt the night run bad become too easy, since it was so well marked. This year, there were very few course markings, and I supplied maps and written course directions (in ridiculously small font.) This years course got ugly in a hurry, with 1 quarter mile of creek scrambling over slick boulders and briers to get to book one (Journey Into Danger.) Half a mile into the race, the runners had to use rope to climb up a steep bank into a weedy field and then into a jungle-like area to a newly barley cut trail to a tree that had been split by lightening where book two (Trail of Blood) was placed. Then, after a quarter mile of mosquito and tick infested thicket, the runners were treated to 150 yards of paved trail before heading up the steepest of the climbs for the night. From the lowest point on Turkey Mountain to the highest--a climb of 300+ feet in .15 of a mile. Along the way, book 3 was waiting (Dead Runner.)

Then, the whipped souls got a half mile of easy dirt trail straight north on the Ridge Trail. About half way down this well traveled trail, they took a right turn down a long bunch of switchbacks. Down down, to the very bottom, collecting book 4 (The Worst Way To Die) just before the steepest decline. I had asked before the race started if anyone had ever run track. There were a few hands raised. Good, I told them, because there was gonna be some track to run tonight--railroad track. They took the tracks, which ran right along the base of a long series of high bluffs, north about a half mile. There is a small cave along the way that if you know where to look, can be seen from the RR tracks. I had placed book 5 (Glimpse Into Terror) in the cave beside a Tiki candle. Then, the runners had to go back south about 1/4 mile, and enter a narrow inlet into a wall of vines which led right up to a series of caves. I was waiting for them here, along with a good friend Glen. In the first cave, book 6 (On the Edge) was placed, which involved scrambling up an incline and dealing with a lot of spider webs.From there, they inched around some huge boulders to another small cave, and then climbed a series of makeshift ladders to a ledge where Glen and I were waiting to assist anyone who was nervous about the next climb.Kathy was the first through this section. She was up the ladder and scaled the next ledge and was off like a shot.Cory was not far behind her.
Chris gets ready to make the necessary jump to get his footing for the steep climb.And Chris' buddy, also named Chris (I think) makes the ascent as well.
Glen and I waited for the next group of runners, and as we waited, I got a call that Kirk had sprained an ankle but was hobbling back in to the starting line. Barkley claimed it's first victim of the night. Turns out it was a minor thing, and after icing it and putting peppermint oil?? on it, he feels as good as new.
The Hauge family was the next group, and Bob decided to stay on the ledge with Glen and I to recollect his energy. There was only one more group--the OKC boys, and we waited a while for them and finally saw them pass below us on the way to the first cave. We decided that Bob and I would go on and he would finish the run, while Glen waited to help the OKC gang with the cliff scaling. So, Bob and I were off and up. We collected the next book (Cliffhanger) from the Time Portal cave above (where I got my hand caught last month) and then popped out onto the Yellow Trail (Ho-Chi) and headed north. We reached the Sitting Rock, and crossed over to the west side, and went down down down all the way to Mooser Creek where a book was placed in the sink hole. (Darker Than Night) Bob was at a major advantage from this point on, because I had placed the books--no danger of missing one, or getting lost. Looking back, I should have deliberately got lost. Then we climbed back out of Mooser Creek, and and picked up book 9 (In The Deep Woods) in another small cave that someone was camping in not too long ago. Then, we went back down Then it was over to Pepsi Pond, and then made a hairpin turn and crossed over Mooser Creek on the concrete bridge where I had 2 cooler stashed. I guess most of the runners did not make it to this cache, because very little of the drinks were gone. From there, we crossed another dry creek bed and climbed a steep bank and hill over to the bicycle graveyard, an area where years ago some of the BMX guys had built some ramps and bridges that looked like Dr Suess contraptions to ride over. Most of these wooded structures have rotted out and fallen, and you get the idea you might see some bones laying around. I had another short out-and-back to Mooser Creek to get book 10 (The Turnaround) appropriately placed.
Well, at this point, we were 2 solid miles away, and while the trails back are good trails, and most of them were ones that the runners seldom used, there were no killer climbs, no caves, bluffs, water crossings--it was just a put-your-head-down-and-run sort of trail--and dodge the spider webs.Each year, I try to pull some sort of trick on the runners, and this year, I had bought 3 IDENTICAL books, and placed them along this trail, and called them all book 11. My thoughts were that it might make them think for a second they were going in circles. (I actually did make one group run incircles last year.) I think it caused a couple of them to briefly wonder if they were lost, but I think mostly they thought I was weird. Book 12 was (Blood Run) and book 13 was (Journey Into Darkness.)

Scott Herbst and everyone who stayed with him made it back and found all the books. Scott is a master of orienteering and adventure racing. He used the printed directions and found all the books fairly easily. A few of the next bunch made it back and missed only a book or two. The Hauge family got off course, and found only 10 or so of the books. The OKC boys overshot the first cave and reportedly looked into a guard shack somewhere and saw a guy that they thought was dead?!?!?They got to the cliffs where Glen was waiting much much later, and eventually called me because they were lost and out of water (missed the water cache.) I ran out and met them and brought them water, and we all made it back. Bret, one of the OKC guys, did not want the directions, and actually scribbled through them. I think they enjoyed getting lost as much as they would have enjoyed finding all the books.

Curfew at Turkey Mountain is 11:00 PM, but we were still out there until 3:00 AM before we packed it up and headed home. Hanging around and visiting with running friends is one of the finer things in life.

Big-time thanks to Dana who single-handedly marked the day course (and also pulled the markings) and brought all of the water/Gatorade. Thanks to Brian who set up the Tatur tents and brought a lot of the food stuff. And also thanks to those who pitched in a few bucks to offset some of the cost. This race has no sponsors and no entry fee. Possibly in the coming years, there may be a fee to do it and maybe t-shirts or something. Next year, I am thinking something will be different for the BBF. I may move it to another location. I may let someone else take the reins and give it a go....any takers? It's a fun event, and I don't want to let it go, but there are not many more surprises on the mountain. Unless Eldridge comes up with something.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saturday June 26th 6:30 PM at Turkey Mountain

It's only 3 more sleeps until the Barkley Book Fair. I have collected 15-20 books for your searching and reading pleasure. This year, people will get to see both sides of my SPL IT personality. The day run is a neatly groomed trail, one that you have fond dreams of....strolling along on a spring day with the birds singing, a babbling brook at your side, bright wispy coulds drifting by.You might stop to talk to a bunny, or eat your fill from the ample fruit trees along the way. Heaven, no doubt, has trails like these.

But the night run, is a darker more sinsiter side from the depths of my twisted and usually concealed mind. It is one that lures you in, and seems to be more exciting and adventurous, but quickly ensnares you and swallows you alive. Many have finished the night run yet were unable to recall the horror. It is not uncommon for their minds to develope a defense mechanism that blocks memories of the more evil sections of the trails so as not not to keep them awake at night for fear of ever finding themselves in such a predicament again.One person had such mental damage last year that she made a comment as to how easy the night course was! LIES! You must lie to yourself to yourself to help deal with the anguish of the journey. I am not satisfied with my construction of the night course until I know that it will drain you from all the sweat you have in your laboring bodies--leaving just enough for a few tears. Somewhere in the night, you will hear a voice crying--calling out: "Help me! I want my Mommy!!!" And that voice will be your own!

Ok, I'm the nice guy again now. I am almost through working out the logistics of the night course. I have spent house clipping out some of the torturous saw briars that draw more blood than OBI and the Red Cross combined.I have put up hand rails and almost have it all handicap accesible. (not really!) The day run will be a blast--it always is. The night run will be fun too, but hard. The night run will be sparcely marked, so stay in groups and make sure someone has a cell phone. Come out at 6:30-11:00 and join in on the fun.

Monday, June 14, 2010


WOW! In less than TWO WEEKS, it will be the 5th running of the BARKLEY BOOK FAIR. This is the oldest running trail run in Tulsa. It is a small event--I prefer to keep it that way. Here's the deal--I have fashioned this run after the REAL Barkley in Frozen Head State park in Tennessee. The original Barkley is a 100 mile event with a 60 mile fun run. In the Barkley, books are hidden and participants have to find these books and tear out the page that corresponds with their race number. In you are number 114, you have to tear out page 114 in the books hidden along the course to prove that you were really there.

Now my event is on Turkey Mountain and is far less than 100 miles. I also have 2 events--a day run that starts around 6:30 pm and is about 4.5 miles long and has 5 books. The course has remained the same for each of the first 4 years, and is on trails that most Turkey Mountain trail runners will recognize. It will be well marked, and few people have got lost on this run. Yes, there are some hills. No, you do not have to go up LipBuster.But there IS a hill that is STEEPER than LipBuster! But you can do it!

Then, after the sun goes down, the NIGHT RUN begins. The course for the night run is different every year. It is sparsely marked. Sometimes I provide some crudely drawn maps. The distance is usually 7-8 miles, and has 10-12 books. The course is as hard as I can make it, within reason. (insert maniacal laugh here)In years past, there have been some rickety bridges to cross, ropes to assist scaling bluffs, makeshift wood ladders, water crossings, caves, underwater caves, and if you are lucky enough (or unlucky enough) time wormholes.The above profile was from a couple of years ago--and for the past two years, I have heard murmurings that the course was too easy. HMMPH!! We'll see about that this year. I hope you like my maps!

The day run is open to TATURs and friends of TATURs. The night run is also open to the same peeps, but it would be best you have done some night running before. And are not afraid of mountain lions. And snakes. And ticks. I also will want a hand written letter requesting entrance to the night event.If you just cannot bring yourself to write a plea on a piece of notebook paper or on the back of a Subway napkin, then I at least would like some verbal groveling.

Seriously, everyone who has done this race has had fun (except for that guy who got lost and was out there for a couple of days.) There is no charge for this event, although if you wanna toss a buck or two in a coffee can to offset some of the aid station food stuff, it would be appreciated.

One year, we ended up at IHOP after the night run was over. Kathy had mud on her legs and twigs in her hair. Another guy had a bloody leg. I smelled like I desperately needed a shower and some deodorant, and had a couple of ticks on my leg. Dana looked fine, not a hair out of place, but was crinkling up her nose at me. Brian walked in with his headlamp still on. Needless to say, they parked us way way in the back of the restaurant.

The fun starts Saturday night, June 26th. The day runners go off at 6:30, and almost all of the run is under the cover of the lush foliage of Turkey Mountain. The night run will start around 9:00. It will be fun. Be there!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

HUGE SCARE!!!!!! And what's been going on lately.

I am actually a very LOW-TECH sort of guy. Blogger is now offering a lot of new backgrounds and templates. I browsed them, and clicked and saved one, and later decided I did not like it. So, I tried to revert to the old layout (this one) and ended up LOSING lots and lots of stuff, like the entire list of friend's blogs to the right, my list of PRs, my race calender, and MY TICK COUNTER!! I blundered around and just could not seem to get it to work. Emailing tech support may in fact bring some answers in a few days--maybe. But fortunately, a blind squirrel found an acorn and I stumbled onto whatever I needed to do to restore it. I hope everything is ok. WHEW!!

After coming home from KM100 (K, not M) I did not sit back and lick my wounds. I ran 5 miles Monday, 5 Tuesday, 5.8 and 6.2 on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Nothing fast, although Thursday's amble was back up to my usual "not bad for an old fat guy" pace. Friday, I ran an all-nighter with a bunch of Midnight Madness 50-miler hopefuls.I think a couple of others came up later just after we took off, and of course the photographer (yours truly) was also not in this pic. But we had 24-26 runners heading from QT in Jenks to NSU east of Broken Arrow and back, on a night that starter out near 90 degrees, and stayed in the 80s all night. There was stifling humidity to go with the warmth, but fortunately a pretty steady breeze that kept me alive all night.
Kathy made the pre-run announcements, while Roman "signed" for the hearing impaired.

We were in good hands this night, as CREW BABE DANA was running the aid station show. She leap frogged us all night long, and kept us watered, salted, and fed.Dana had help too. Marilyn Sargent, Tatur Dave's wife, joined the ranks of the Crew Chicklettes, and tag teamed the fast runners. She stayed out all night long, and even hung out with us at IHOP at the re-feed-frenzy. Kristin also got a Crew Chicklette training session under her belt. Sandra came by, and was the water girl, making a couple of trips to get more water and Gatorade. She should have been home sleeping, as the next morning, she left for southern Oklahoma to ride ACROSS THE STATE at Free Wheel. At this writing, she has rode from Hugo, OK to the Texas state line and back, and then northward to Clayton, OK, and then to Heavener and slept in tents only to wake up at 5:30 am and start her daily 65-70 mile ride. She'll end up in Kansas. She's an endurance babe. Cassy, to the far right, is pacing her brother Glen in his first try and finish of the 50 mile distance. I had the pleasure of running a few miles with her. She probably is not as nice to her little brother, but I enjoyed her company.

Kathy shows that she was drinking her electrolytes. CJ, however, got a little behind on his sodium intake and cramps set in. Midnight Madness will be his first 50 mile try. Lotsa water, electrolytes, and calories along with peeing, and he'll have a chance.

IHOP was glad to see us at 4:30 am. I needed BACON. Pancakes were a plus. Kathy took the pic, and from front left clockwise, Roman, Me, Dana, Susan, Bobby, Marilyn, Tatur Dave, Lyle, and Glen await breakfast. The guy way in the back in the white t-shirt was not with us. I think he was sleeping one off.

Great, happy, fun times!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Kettle Cooked My A$$

It's Monday morning--no wait, Monday afternoon. A dead sleep in my own bed preceded by a 12 hour drive in the most uncomfortable sleeping vehicle on the road has past. I am grumpy. And it's raining. But what a great day to prop myself up to the laptop and write a race report, right? So, Let me pour another cuppa and have another bite of my post-race breakfast, and I'll get down to bizness.
The race was the Kettle Moraine 100 (Mile/Kilometer). I have read reports of this run over the past few years, and heard how it was a "good first 100", which usually means "easy" as if running 100 miles is ever easy. The 100s I have finished have been on the easier side, and truthfully, I doubt my abilities to finish some of the mountain 100s, although I can dream, right? Kathy had wanted redemption from her Rocky Raccoon endeavor, and I was in the same boat, having come up short in my last 100 mile race. This seemed like a good fit. Crew Babe Dana worked feverishly to get us (me) packed, we borrowed my nephew Jeff for pacing duties and headed northeast on I-4 on Thursday around 1:00 and hit our usual McDonald's before we even got out of Oklahoma.Carbo-loading is a good thing! Dinner was in Bourbon, MO at the Hen House.I get just as excited about good food as I do running. Could be an unhealthy correlation there.

We continued north and stopped at 11:ish in Carlinville, Illinois at a Best Western. A very nice man checked us into this large motel in a small town in the middle of the flattest place on the planet. During his checking in purchase, I heard him say "oops....oh, I'll fix that later" and in my sleepy stupor, I made no issue of it, and we retired to our room. The next morning, (thanks to iPhone and email) I read where my bank had shut down our bank card due to questionable activity. A quick call to the 1-800 number given told of 4,700 dollars being charged to our account. I don't know how this happened, but apparently this man had hit the wrong numbers on the pad and charged us $1,596 for our room, and then corrected it by charging us another $3000. Yikes!! I made a trip down to the front desk, and was very nice and courteous, as were they, and we got it straightened out. Whew! The room was not that nice, and the free breakfast was yucky.

On to Wisconsin. We drove and drove for what seemed like hours....actually, it WAS hours. I had wanted to stay in Whitewater, which was the closest town to the race but ended up getting a room in Ft Atkinson which was about 20 miles from the s/f. After getting our room, we went to the La Grange General Store/bike shop/deli to pick up our packets.The shirts were a cotton tee, but they had old long sleeve tech shirts for $5.00 so we scarfed up a couple of them. We decided to go out to look at some of the course and find the aid stations where Dana would be allowed to crew. This took the remainder of the day, but it gave Kathy and I a chance to see some of the trails we were to conquer the next day. I had read that there were quite a few ups and downs, but the elevation profile showed the longest climb to be around 150 feet. Sounded easy.And if this trail was any indication of what laid ahead for us, we were in great shape.

Race day morning!Crew Babe ready to start her day's work. She stays awake and alert all day, and puts up with us grumpy runners. Someone once explained to me what "Crew" means--Cranky Runners Endless Waiting.Jeff stretches and yawns. He was Dana's assistant all day, with pacing on tap for the night.Kathy and I were stoked and ready to get on with it!The KM had a record turnout with 166 doing the 100 miler, 67 doing the 100K, 8 relay teams, and 59 doing the 38 mile Fun-Run.

I got to see Coleen, aka Cynical Dirt Doll!! Coleen always has a great smile, and I'm thinking she had a great 40 miles before the rain turned the course to mud. But more on the mud later. She did finish 100K in 14:49:59. I KNEW she could break 15 hours!!

Dana takes pix before the race. Dana had my iPhone, and did real-time updates on my FaceBook. I suppose if you wanted, you could go to my wall and read the posts and comments. I think some people thought I was FaceBooking while on the run--not that I don't do that sometimes. No time for that today though. She did a great job of it--wonder if I could hire her out?? (J/K!! She's MINE!)

Soon enough, the race was on.Such nice cushy trails, very few rocks, gentle short ups and downs.Lots of tall pine tree-lined trails.The 1st aid station. These folks had a long day, night, and day.Occasionally early on, we'd pop out into an open area. This trail was mostly a cross-country ski trail. I think snowmobiles would be great fun here.Just leaving out of the Bluff Road aid stop. This was the first place where we could have crew. We did not need much, and it was a quick hi and bye.There were lots of lush tropical rain forest-like trails.More climbs. (These would eventually take their toll.)From mile 8 on, we had several long sections of open prairie. As the temperatures rose, running became a little less fun. Someone said it never got above 80, but right out in the sun, it was plenty warm!One of several wooden bridges........that went through the everglades.

We're at the Emma Carlin Aid station.

Still feeling strong.

After this point, Kathy picked up the pace and I settled into my zombie shuffle.

The course went through more prairie and the sun really was beating down.
I met Tim and Angela through here. Angela is a Runner's World Forumite, so I guess technically, this was an FE. They kept it up and got a nice 100K finish, and in a much better time than mine. WTG!!

HW 67 was the next crew stop, and my water bottle was drained by the time I got there. I did refill at an unmanned water cache, but the water tasted like garden hose, and I did not drink near enough.Kathy had built about a 20 minute lead by HW 67. She was very hot (and overheated too.) She drank but did not eat, and when I heard that, I thought I could catch her. I ran from here to the turnaround. I did manage to catch up a few minutes, but at the turnaround, she evidently took an IV of rocket fuel, because at the next stop, she had extended her 18 minute lead to 36 minutes, and continued to extend that lead from there on. I kept a good pace considering the task ahead and the heat, but I went from giving a 85% effort to about a 65% effort.I passed another couple of competitors. I am pretty sure this runner DNF'd.TZ having an out-of-body experience.

Somewhere around 3:30 a cool breeze started rustling through the tree tops and it cooled down nicely, and a little bit of rain began to fall. Sweet. But the light rain turned to torrential, and the hot prairies turned to sloshy shoe sucking mud. The single track trails turned into small rivers, with every footfall in ankle deep water.But such is trail running. I was still having least at this point. At Emma Carlin, I got out of my short sleeve tech shirt, and went with my long sleeve Icebreaker.I ate a sandwich, took some Ibuprofen, a 5 hour energy, and headed back out. The Icebreaker is by no means water proof, but the Merino wool has amazing properties that keeps you warm even if it is wet. But I needed to get moving to get my core warm, and I did, and had no probs despite the dropping temps and relentless rain.

A lot of weird things seem to happen deep in the woods in the night. Fortunately, the rain stopped about 10:00 or 11:00, and when you could see the sky, the stars were amazing. The wind picked up, and the sounds of it whirring through the tall pines was amazing. I was all alone, not a soul in sight, but at one place in the utter darkness, I heard the pounding of footsteps ALL AROUND ME! I turned quickly and saw I was in a patch of vegetation that had huge leaves--like elephant eared plants. The wind had blown rain droplets off of the trees above and they fell on these huge leaves, and it sounded like a herd of runners bearing down on me. HAHA. Another time, a gust of wind blew a huge branch off a tree not 20 feet from the trail. Another quick scare. But actually, there is something almost spiritual being out alone in the woods like that.

I did not know if I was in last place or what. I did let a few runners make it by, and I also knew that making the cutoff at the 100K point was probably not gonna happen. I was bummed, and I suppose my drive waned too. The mud was slick as snot, and the short ups and downs were not so short now. I like playing in mud--just not running long in mud. I run like a duck and somehow push a little sideways off of each step. In mud, this is a lot of sliding sideways, slowing me down incredibly. I thought I had read that only 100 MILE finishers got a copper Kettle, and the 100K finishers got a Medal. I really wanted the Kettle. I thought of how confident I was of finishing this race. I thought of how I had talked Jeff into coming up to pace me, and I would be pulled before he got a chance. I thought of my Mileage Team and how I wanted to post a nice triple digit week. But there was nothing I could do. I had the ability to finish this race--just not with the greased mud hills. My pace, which I had been keeping at a 13-15 minute average pace, had slowed to well over 18 minute miles. Towards the very end of the 100K on the up and down roller-coaster hills, it was taking me over 20 minutes per mile. By the time I trotted into the finish, I was way past the cutoff and was soggy toast.

Kathy finished in 16:44. She had decided to NOT go back out for the remainder of the 100 miler, although I was already gearing up to help crew here to the finish, and maybe even pace a little if I could find my mojo. Us stopping at the 100K point meant we got some SLEEP and a shower--not necessarily in that order. It also got us home a day earlier--sort of.

Turns out, I was not the last place runner. And there was a lot of runners who dropped out way earlier in the race. Now the good thing in all of this, is that someone who was in the 100 mile could drop down to the 100K and get an official finish. And the GREAT thing, is that I DID GET MY KETTLE!!!

I don't know if I will go back and try this race again. This race is harder than Lean Horse, than Rocky Raccoon, than Heartland, than Traveller and of course Mother Road. Given good weather, I could do it. Just not sure if I will. Thanks are due to all the aid station workers. Gutting it out in the rain and slop was hell I am sure. Thanks to Jeff, who was so much help to Dana and never ever complains. I owe you a good run-outing, buddy! And huge ginormous thanks to Crew Babe and DW Dana. No way any of this happens for me without you!!!!