Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Witch and Moan/Zombie Chase/Terrifying Turkey Trail Adventure

Sunday was the annual running of the Witch and Moan/Zombie Chase/Terrifying Turkey Trail Adventure. Each October, around the witching time of the month, RunnersWorld-Tulsa conjures up all of the evil ghosts and ghouls, zombies, freaks, and other sorted creatures to the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness for some frolicking through the woods.
The Blood Trail (aka the Red Trail) was haunted by zombies in various states of decay, and all were hungry for----BRAINS!!!!

After a the traverse of the Blood Trail, a few survivors joined forces with an army of brave souls and proceeded down the paved trail for the Witch and Moan 5K.

There were several graveyards and torture stations along the way, where where younger goblins had the opportunity to cast a spell, and/or receive an offering of the delectable variety. (I like the Trix bars best.)

Three zombies formerly known as Amanda, Shorty, and Johnna ate more tricksters than than they gave candy, and reports are still emerging that Shorty has been having Snicker feeding frenzies to go along with her ravishing appetite for human entrails.

Two of the undead, who once were alive and well and known as Amelia and Katie, did their best to ensure the safety peril of those on the trail.

After the Witch and Moan journey was over, and most of the survivors were accounted for, the Turkey Terrifying Trail Adventure began. So treacherous and dangerous is this event that of the 40 people who signed up, 25% decided to not risk their lives and took their candy and retreated to the safety of their homes. One of the "fearless" guides wet himself in sheer terror of the prospect of taking a company of adventures four miles into utter darkness on the most fearful of all routes on Turkey Mountain. But still, 30 stepped up and accepted the challenge of the trek, which led to a few of the mysterious caves hidden on the eastern face of Turkey Mountain. Several of the company that departed at 8:10 pm had never ran on trailz, and most has never been out on the trailz at night. Mitch, the Sherpa for the 2nd group and I kept careful count of our group, yet the trail claimed two of our stragglers. Fortunately, Mitch's group was able to rescue them.

My group chose to go to the farthest length of the base of the mountain before plundering through literally several feet of dense thickets to enter the homeless man's cave. A candle had been lit and it appeared that we narrowly missed a cave dweller as the remains of a half eaten rat was tossed aside as if he had recently fled the confines.

From there, we backtracked, looking for the Crevice Cave, the deepest cave in the area. The entrance was blocked by a giant fallen tree, perhaps a good omen. There is another cave near this one that reached much further and deeper into the mountain, but the entrance was dynamited years ago after reports of people getting lost and never coming out.

The Catacomb Cave and the Vulture cave were next and were our final stops on this adventure.
Getting to these caves requires an eagle eye to the narrow opening through a vine and brier covered remnant of a trail. The climb is over 100 feet, and is almost straight up. Still our group, enthralled with the prospects of seeing caves that most Turkey Mountain visitors do not even know exist, clawed their way quickly through the mesh of vines and stickers to a narrow ledge that led to the Catacomb Cave. This cave, big enough to hide a body (or two) would also be a good place to hide out if you had the law chasing you. This cave has many dreadful tales to tell--if it could talk. I had placed a torch inside to give light to the ghostly chamber, and most of out crew took a peek.

My entourage must have sensed that I was saving the best cave for last, as they were pushing ahead to enter the Vulture cave, This cave has a lot of history. It has been called the BAD DOG cave, since the words BAD DOG are etched in stone at the entrance. It's also known as Lo's Cave, a homeless man from the great depression era who lived here, and had once constructed a gate guarding the entrance. This is also the location for the petroglyphs, carved centuries ago by vikings.

But the Vulture Cave gets its name from an encounter by one of our communities upstanding citizens Brian Hoover, who once entered the cave and came face to face with a giant vulture who was eating a dead raccoon. The coon had been aging for quite sometime, and the vulture was picking the remnants of his warm leftover flesh from the carcass when Brian interrupted dinner. The huge bird let out a shriek and began flopping his wide wings either trying to escape, or attack--I'm not sure. The second shriek a split second later was from Brian who ran like a Kenyon out of the cave and did not stop for 100 yards alongside the bluffs where there was no trail. We did not see the vulture again. We kicked the raccoon out of the cave into some dense underbrush, and threw away our shoes.

At night,  this cave is black as ink--so much so that it seems to consume and diminish the light from a flashlight. Even  LED headlamps seems curiously dim entering this cave after the sun goes down. I had placed a few items in the cave for shock value--a skull (big surprise) and a severed hand complete with fake blood, but these were seasoned Halloweeners and they paid no mind to my hidden fright props. Most of us were crammed in the cave when I felt a sharp jabbing pain to my right ankle. It felt like someone had stabbed my lower leg with a knife, and I quickly raised up my pant leg to see two puncture wounds and a little blood dripping from one of them. I had been snake-bit! Trying to keep the group from panicking, I calmly asked then to carefully exit the cave and that I had been bitten by a snake, Then the unthinkable happened! Several snakes seemingly fell from the ceiling of the cave right onto a couple of girls who were ahead of me deeper in the cave!! The HORROR!!

They screamed is sheer terror--and then began cussing, then laughing. It seems that someone from above the cave had dropped rubber snakes onto their heads, and it coincided with my "supposed snake bite." Yep--thanks to my snake wrangling buddy Russell, and a bit of B-movie acting on my part, we scared the crap out of a few girls. Hey--it's Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Non-running post

Since I have not ran a step in over three weeks, I thought I would post some non-running pics. The streets of downtown were packed with runners yesterday at the Tulsa Run. I have not missed the Tulsa Run in years. I have ran every one since 2002, except for 2008 when it was the same day as the Mother Road 100. In a way, it seems like I am through with running. I miss it, but only sort of. But don't worry--I just needed a break from it, and will be back with a passion. I am signed up for a 100 in March, and want to run it very well. Training in earnest will commence soon.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd 2013

The third running of the Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd has came and gone, and this year was amazing. We had a few less entrants in all four distances which was a little disappointing, but the enthusiasm was over the top.

Eagle Bluff hosted us again, and as long as Comb's Bridge is still in service, we'll have it here. This is possibly the most scenic stretch of the Illinois River. Brian and I camped Thursday night, and were up at the crack of dawn to get things ready. The porta-potty dude came at 9:30 instead or 8:ish, so we started work on the loop with a big time deficit.

Driving the loop, and waiting for the outhouses to be prepped gave me time to snap a few pics. This is at mile 4 just past the huge bluffs.

Standing at Savannah Corner, the full moon is retreating over the horizon, prepping for full illumination the next night. Runners could easily get by without a headlamp, it was so bright.

Mile 14ish, between Savannah and the Nature Center. The roads were in the best condition they have been in for the three years we have been here. Still, a steady diet of gravel to the feet made for some good hot spots and blisters for a few runners.

This is taken from the 3 miles of paved road between Hard Up Ahead and Bathtub Rocks. Hold up camera/iPhone, push button, take awesome picture. It's just that easy at Pumpkin Holler.

As usual, the 50K, 100K, and 100 Milers all started together at 8:00 am sharp.
picture by Danielle Huddleston
The countdown started from 10 seconds, and I heaved the pumpkin skyward at the count of two seconds.
picture by Danielle Huddleston

The great orange vegetable split into two pieces, and was promptly trampled. The two boys in front are none other than ultra-stars Brandon and Cameron Plate, doing their first 100K. They have several 50Ks to their credit, a 50 miler, and 100 miles over three days at the Silverton 1000. Their plan was to run the first 50K conservatively, and then their dad Mark would run the 2nd 50K with them. It was his 1st 50K, and their plan worked well. They all finished middle-of-the-pack. I am not sure I could have ran the pace they did, even doing a 50K.

picture by Danielle Huddleston
In the blue to the right--Kathy Hoover. This was her 3rd Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd, and also her 3rd 100 miler in as many weeks. Yes, you read right--THREE! She ran the Arkansas Traveller on October 5th, Heartland 100 on October 12, and then was trying for 100 miles here. Would she make it???

picture by Danielle Huddleston
Two hours later, the 25K was sent off.

Both the 100 mile and 25K took off to the road that bisects the Nichol Nature Preserve. It is possible to see a lot of wildlife such as raccoon, squirrel, skunks, deer, elk, and even bobcats. Deer were plenty, and almost friendly. But the big treat was at the aid station at mile 4.

Mitch ran the Waffle Stop, where the 100 milers turned around. The 25K got waffles here, and on the way back.

Meanwhile, on the big loop where the 50K and 100Kers went, and the 100 Milers came later--the Mad Dog station had a lot of pet tricks waiting.

Kevin Lemaster had gingerbread dog biscuits served from over-sized dog dishes, candy and nuts from gumball machines, shelves with commercial cookie containers, an iced tea dispenser, and first class service. Next year, I expect fountain drinks.

Joel Everett and the Muskogee Running Club manned the Out-N-Back station, where runners fed their faces at mile 7 and mile 10.

picture by Danielle Huddleston
Tony Clark, along with Steve and Dennis from Kansas ran Savannah Corner--possibly the most scenic aid station on the course.
picture by Danielle Huddleston
This was a crew station, so fan support was thick especially in the first loop. The early stations had a little down time between the first and second loops, and Savannah was geared up and ready come nightfall. (This video was posted on Facebook, and I could not get the embed code, so you have to click to get to Tony's Facebook wall, and then click on the video. It's worth the extra clicks to see it.)

Next was the East of Eden station, manned by Randy Ellis and Susan Westmoreland, and joined later by Lynna Gilstrap and Laurie Biby.
picture by Kristina Myint
I ran into a herd of GOATz here. From left to right--Bill, Ron, Bobbie, Kristina, and Josh. This is the location of the Great Gourd Challenge, a short out and back where you could choose to run an extra mile(ish) and climb over 300 feet in the process. Doing so earned you a nice pin to wear on your shirt for the rest of the race.
picture by Kristina Myint
I was pleased that so many brave peeps took on the challenge. It's funny that people will moan and groan about hills, but dangle another hill in front of them, and they will run it. Trail runners are like that.

Earl Blewett and Chuck Streit worked the Hard Up Ahead station, which was a crew stop as well. I did not get pictures from here. :-(

Next was BathTub Rocks.This is the 18th wonder of the world. It's a great place to soak your tired feet. The magical waters will take away all the aches and pains, and have actually healed blisters and black toenails. Russell manned this stop with help from David Newman.

picture by Russell Bennett
Last Gasp was managed by Mishelle Hancock with help from Susan Howell, who was signed up to run but had to withdraw due to an injury. But, she drove from Kentucky just to help!! Awesome! They were relieved by Travis and Shorty Jennings. Travis ran the 25K, and Shorty did her 1st 50K. I'm not sure, but Shorty probably snuck in a well deserved nap.

A big shout out to Zach Adams, who DNF'd here last year but came back this year skinnier and meaner. Zach ran smart and steady, and kept picking off runners to finish 2nd overall.

He had a crew of babes--imported from Kansas who fed him, massaged his feet, lied to him about how good he looked, and took turns pacing him in for his fantastic finish. Joell, Melissa, and Candi are all experienced ultrarunners, and I hope they come back to run with us next year.

Stormy ran the show back at the finish line. He was on the loud speaker all day and all night announcing runners names as they came through and finished, including runner trivia, lies, jokes, and encouragement. Maybe I was just tired and delirious, but I thought he was funny.
This is another where you need to click, then click again. It seems I cannot embed Facebook videos.

I spent most of the day and most of the night driving the course checking on aid stations and runners. I did manage to get a 64 minute nap, and it added no life to me, but the coffee helped. Come daybreak, I drove the course taking inventory as to where the runners were, closing down aid stations that were through, and picking up drop bags. I finally got back to see the final 6-8 100 milers come on though.

Michelle McGrew got her buckle, after coming up short at the Prairie Spirit blizzard last year. She was 3rd female too. I was so proud, as we have ran together some, and she picks my brain for ultra advice from time to time.
picture by Danielle Huddleston
Kathy came in 57 seconds under 27 hours, good enough for 4th place female. But this was also her 3rd 100 mile finish in the past 3 weeks. Since October 5 through October 20--a mere 16 days--she has raced over 300 miles.

Tired yes--but she looked like she was out for an easy little 10 miler every time I saw her. Racing the past three weeks, she got stronger each time out.

Dana had done the race thing for the past FOUR weeks. She worked an aid station at FlatRock 4 weeks ago, crewed me at Arkansas Traveller the next week, worked an aid station at the Heartland 100 last week, and the Pumpkin start/finish aid station this past weekend. I could not do what I do without her. She is amazing. We'll be taking next weekend off.

Another runner who came up short last year here,  DNF'd at Mark Twain last year, and was pulled from the blizzard at Prairie Spirit got the monkey off her back by acing this race. Danielle had her whole race dialed in-- never going too fast but never to slow, eating and drinking, and dancing all the way around the course. There was never a doubt she'd finish. I was so thrilled to see her get her buckle.

Mr Kurt Egli, after coming up short at Arkansas Traveller a couple of times, battled HARD to cross the finish line. Kurt's back started wigging out after about 50 miles, but he would not stop. Under quite a bit of discomfort and with the help of some great pacers, he made it though. It was inspirational to see him work so hard.

Finally, my friend Ken Saveth turned it up a notch in the last half of his last loop to finish 18 minutes under the cutoff. Ken was in the hole with 17 miles to go, but the sun came up and he dug deep and pushed through to get his second 100 mile finish.

He is collapsed here, but not before SMASHING the PUMPKIN, an honor bestowed upon the last finisher.

Click on the picture below for many more pictures from the race, taken by Danielle Huddleston.

Click here for the full results.

Many many thanks to all the volunteers who spent hours and hours serving our running friends. Susan Westmoreland did so much behind the scenes work. Dana slaved for days buying and assembling the aid station kits. Lori Enlow did quite a bit of leg work for us, and then loaned us three generators and helped out all night long along with her family--and all that after winning the 25K. Brian, Stormy, and Shannon McFarland held down the fort at the start/finish. I was almost never there, yet the whole thing went off like clockwork--even when the clock ran out of juice. Brynna made gourmet breakfasts for the late finishers, and Mitch whipped up some biscuits and gravy. There were a lot of other helpers--I am sure I've missed a lot of them. Jody McFarland, John Nobles, Rhonda Presley, Trish Carpenter--thank you all.

And finally, a very popular comic strip from a state to the north has adopted our race as the butt of their humor. But as portrayed above, the pumpkin has earned the respect of the GOATz. I expect an invasion from Nebraska next year though. The sound of thundering hooves will be heard throughout the hills of Pumpkin Holler.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hanging out at Heartland

It's been a busy month. Two weeks ago, I ran FlatRock 50K, last weekend I made it 58 miles at Arkansas Traveller, next weekend, it's set up, RD duties, and tear down of the 3rd annual Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd. This weekend was not a weekend off as Dana and I ran an aid station at the Heartland 100. And being the predictable blogger I am, I have a report to spin. We worked the Lapland aid station which was at mile 16, and again at mile 84 for the 100 milers, and mile 16 and 34 for the 50 milers. My view of the race was all from this intersection of H and 576 Roads. I saw no runners in action anywhere during the race other than a 1/4 mile to the south, and a half mile to the east--other than the fact that you could see LEDs to the north and east for ~5 miles during the night. My picture collection in the post below is what I took before runners started coming through, and after we had things all packed up and ready to go. For my purposes of patting backs, I have borrowed a few pics from Melissa Bruce, and Russell Bennett.

But first the drama before the trip. We were packing our camper Friday morning when I noticed one of the tires was flat. And, I also figured out that although the camping trailer has a spare, it does not have a jack. So, I buzzed by QT and bought a can of tire sealant for 5 bucks and change which hardly inflated it. So another QT trip and 8 bucks and change for the BIG can brought the tire to 50%--maybe. Packed and ready to roll, we towed it to Discount Tire and got in line for a flat repair. Discount Tire is right next door to a new Panda Express, and we hadn't ate a plate of lemon pepper chicken, orange chicken, curry chicken, fried rice, and a token 3 stalks of green beans later, our flat was fixed and our invoice was $00.00. Thank you, Discount Tire.

We made the 228 mile trip to Cassoday and were narrowly in time for a quick grab or roast beef, potato casserole, corn, and rolls prepared by some local church ladies. Great home cooking for sure. RD Tony Clark had a few errands to tend to, and we agreed to meet at the start/finish so he could lead us out to where our aid station was gonna be so we could set up camp. Dana and I sat in the truck and waited for 30 minutes or so, read email and Facebook while we had a signal. When Tony got back, I got behind his SUV to follow, and discovered that I had NO BRAKES! I could mash on the brake pedal, and heard a hissing sound, and had maybe 2% of the normal braking power by mashing down super hard. Looking under the hood and truck like a complete novice, I saw no brake fluid leaking from the brake lines or master cylinder. What to do? What to do? Things like this often happen at the most difficult times. We HAD to get to our aid station location, and being away from home, after hours on a Friday night, there was no chance of getting anything done until maybe Saturday. So, with great caution, we followed Tony 15 miles down hilly gravel roads to our aid station. We went slow, and used the gears to slow down, and only braked when we were rolling to a stop. We set up camp, unhitched, leveled, and settled in for the night. While this was not a conventional camping spot, it was still cool. The stars were amazing. It was quiet, other than a gentle breeze, and the remnants of an electrical storm lit up the eastern night sky.

Tony and crew were back promptly at 7:00 am to set up a heavy duty carport-like tent made with steel piping, bolts and nuts, and a heavy tarp cover and back wall. Aid supplies dropped off, tables in place--we were set. The race started at 6:00 am, and we expected to see the speedy runners by 8:30. A caravan of cars were right behind Tony when he drove up. This was a crew access aid station, and we had company for most of the morning. A few of the crew members waiting for the runners pitched in and helped Dana (which was greatly appreciated), and I manned the clip board and checked off runners. One near disaster--a moderate wind/breeze kicked up around 9:00 am, and the heavy duty carport/tent became a large box kite. Russell and I were hanging on and it nearly lifted us off the ground. Had we not held on, it would have lifted off and flown to Oklahoma. We walked it back around 40 feet to a fence and telephone pole and lashed it down. We also untied the back wall, taking away the "lift" force. The tent did no good for the morning runners, but I had a plan for the night.

We saw the last runner around 10:30, and then I had the task of trying to get my brakes fixed. I had to drive around 10 miles to even get a cell phone signal, and used a slow moving Google to find a Ford dealership. I also called the dealer I bought the truck from. I thought it was still was under the original factory warranty, plus I had bought an extended warranty--something I rarely do. My dealership recommended a Ford place in nearby El Dorado, which had a disconnected phone number. Google listed another place which was also non-existent. I Googled another place in Augusta which had a service department that was open until 1:00. All of these towns were on the way to Wichita on narrow 2-lane highways. I was doing ok being careful, and gearing down to stop. So far so good. The ford place that closed at 1:00 should have mentioned that they close the garage doors before 12:30, and will not even acknowledge that they have potential customers knocking on the window 30 minutes before their posted closing time. Next was Wichita dealers, and I picked the biggest one judging by their multiple web listings, and it was also the closest. They were nice, and recognized my dilemma, but were booked solid, and said it was doubtful that they could even look at it. They recommended another place much further west through Wichita, which meant driving through town on a sometimes expressway, sometimes service road route. My slow cautious stopping annoyed some zippy obnoxious Wichita drivers, and one zoomed around me and cut right in front of me as I approached a red light. I do not know how I managed to get it stopped without bumping her. It was stupid to try to drive without brakes, I know. But paying a tow truck to tow it from place to place did not sound good either. I finally made it to Hambelton Ford with Siri trying to send me down the wrong way on a one way service road, but I got there. A service tech by the name of Scott was awesome. He tried to get it in the quick lane because they do brake work there. (I doubted they would do anything other than easy brake pad jobs.) He then told me he was gonna make an exception and pencil me in to the list for the main service dept. I sat down in the lounge area and enjoyed a couple of free hot dogs, a bag of chips, and a $2:00 Coke, and watched Texas whip OU. Scott got back with me pretty quick, and told me that with my VIN, he could verify that my extended warranty was good and in place, and it was the power boosted that had went out. This part was not in stock anywhere in Wichita, and would have to be shipped from Kansas City and would not be here until Tuesday, or Monday if he could pull some strings. He also jumped through hoops to get me a rental car, and assured me that it would be covered. So far, I am very happy with their service.

I stopped at Lowe's on the way back and bought a 3 lb hammer, and 8 12" nails. Driving these nails through a hole in the bottom of the steel tubing, and a couple of others in the ground about 4 feet out anchored the frame and gave me a way to secure the top. As hard as the ground was, I doubted they would be able to even get these nails out, but it turns out, someone had a big nail bar and pried them out with ease. Even with a bit of wind during the night, the tent never moved. I bragged that I had built a tornado shelter.

I predicted that we would start seeing runners around 7:30, but I was about an hour off. A 100 miler made it back--84 miles--around 8:30 pm. The 50 mile runners started their race at 6:00 pm, and we had runners coming in from both directions for a while. It was never super busy, but was steady for most of the night. It got colder, and a lot of runners came in out shelter and sat for a while, covering up with blankets. We did not have a heater, but got by alright. Getting comfy in a chair with a blankie is often the death of a 100 milers race. There were quite a few runners who did not "beware of the chair," and ended up dropping.

The last runner came by around 6:30, and Tony and crew showed up right on their heels to tear down the aid station. Dana and I picked up some of our outside stuff, and climbed into the camper and slept until about 11:00. Four hours sleep, and a shower made me feel like a new man!! Tony arranged for one of his crew to come back and pull our trailer back to a safe location in Cassoday, and we'll leave it there until I come back to get my truck. I guess this is as good of a scenario as I could hope for. A hotshot out and back to Wichita is in my near future.

Now, the race results. TATUR Racing timed this event, and the results are already posted here.

100 milers Richard Stigall duked it out with Kenn Moon, winning by a mere 6 minutes 17:55 to 18:01. Amy Ewing took the ladies 100 mile crown with 18:19,and Candi Paulin taking 2nd with 21:55.

Adam Beecher ran a 7:59:59 to win the 50 mile race just a blink under 8 hours!! Chris Perry taking 2nd with a 8:48. Lauren Lie was third overall and first female running a 10:25, while Krystle Dalke was 2nd with 12:25.

Kathy Hoover ran her 2nd 100 miler in as many weeks, finishing in 27:38 after roughing out the Arkansas Traveller last week.

She is running Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd next week, and if she finishes, she will be the only runner in Oklahoma to run three 100 milers in three weeks.

Arnold Begay got back on the winning track with a good finish here. Like me, he bailed at Traveller last week, but stepped up and took care of business this week.

Russell did the crew-dude thing this year, following and helping Kathy, and posting updates on hers and Arnold's progress.

My Kansas friends all did well.
Candi, as I mentioned earlier, ran her first 100 like she has been doing them for years. She ran smart, and seeing her at mile 16 and 84, she looked like she was out for a leisurely Saturday morning 20 miler.

Justin Chockley was at Prairie Spirit last mach during the blizzard. Since then, it seemed he never lost his focus and hunger for a finish. He seemed to have his head in the game at all times. Of course, I saw him at mile 16 and 84, but he was upbeat and did great for his first finish.

Adam Monaghan stayed the course and finished his 19th 100 miler. That's more than most runners can even dream about doing, and who knows--he may end up doing 40 more.

Here's another first time 100 miler--Jason Dinkel. Jason was hurting when he came through our aid station at mile 84. Dana did some blister work on his feet, and Vaselined them up. I know that each step had to be painful, and that short 16.5 miles left seemed like 50. But he never stopped and has his first 100 mile buckle to show for it. Hi is with Melissa Bruce, who should get some MVP votes for all she did. She posted Facebook updates and pictures (of which I borrowed a few) throughout the day and night, paced Jason Dinkel from Matfield Green to the out and back, and then back. She then picked up Adam Monaghan at Lapland and ran the final 16.5 with him and got in nearly 32 miles. She is ripe for a 100 mile race. She has all that it takes to finish one.

Finally, it was good to see my friend Larry Kelley get a 100 mile finish. Larry was hurting, but was determined to get to the finish line. He had a great support crew, but I new he was bearing down when he only took a couple of drinks of beer at out station.

Seeing all my friends, I wished I was running. But it is enjoyable to be on the other side of the aid station table. Tony Clark puts on a very well organised race, and it's a great one to add to your list.