Thursday, October 2, 2014

Flat Rock 50K. Sometimes the trail wins.

Saturday I ran the 20th annual FlatRock 50K in Independence KS. This was my first ultra way back in 2003, and this would be my 12th consecutive finish here. This time, I was woefully undertrained, nursing a possible running career ending knee issue, but on the upside, well tapered and I knew the course maybe better than anyone. 
We drove up early Saturday morning which meant only about 4 hours of sleep. Still, with my personal lucky number 8 (awarded me for being knighted into the FlatRock Hall of Pain) I was believing in trail magic and ibuprofen to get me through. 

We got to the race barely in time for the preface briefing which I have memorized anyway. I found something to carry for a water bottle since I forgot mine, and headed to the porta potty line. Literally 15 25Kers were lined up and gave no respect to a prairie dogging 50Ker whose race started in a few minutes fully an hour before theirs. So, I loaded up with some paper towels and figured I would be in the back of the pack anyway.....
I got to see a lot of friends, including several GOATz. Soon enough we were off and running. More like shuffling for me though. 

I haven't looked through the race pictures. Rick Mayo does an awesome job though. Di Liska tagged me here. This might be the only time ever where I've been photographed with both feet are off the ground at the same time. 

Eric and Polly were at the trail head wishing us all well. It seemed the day was gonna be alright. 

The trailz at Elk City Lake are beautiful and tough in a few places. I was running easy, walking anything technical, and was just trying to settle in. 

I lasted a mile and then had to break out a paper towel. After kicking some dirt over the evidence, I was feeling great and I picked up the pace.   

Eventually I caught up with Joe Galloway and then a girl named Heather (I think.) then  pushed on and caught some good friends Lynna and Melissa. I ran with them and really enjoyed the run with them. 

FlatRock is tough in many little ways. There are a few hills. The course elevation looks horrifying but there is really no climb that really sucks. There are technical sectiond, but there are many more miles of sweet uninterrupted single track. But enough of anything eventually is too much, and on an 86 degree day, the course just bests you up. Today, I was enjoying every step until mile 9 when I got s shard jab of pain in my bum knee. It turned my fluid shuffle into a one legged crow hop. I took 22 minutes on my 9th mile. And each step with my right leg hurt. Up hills worked fine. Downhills were bad. If I could have shuffled the flats, I would have stayed in, but I wisely dropped at mile 10. 

This was Dana's aid station and I got to see all the runners come back through. Dana worked her magic and helped quire a few runners get theirselves together and finish what they started. 

It was smart of me to stop. Now, 2 days later, I am walking with a bit of a hitch, but nothing seems too damaged. But the knee is not well. I just don't know how this is gonna pan out. Don't feel sad for me. I am gonna ride my bike for a while. I'll keep blogging. Maybe it won't be as boring. 

This picture may have been altered just a little to make my friend Melon even more mad at me. Not the sexiest leg. 

I did have the good fortune to finish in the top two for a sexy leg contest. 

After the race, Scott Hill was knighted for 10 consecutive finishes. Dennis Haig was recognized for 20 consecutive finishes. 

Some awesome friends Zach Adams and Candy Paulin got engaged right in front of all us sweaty runners. 

My good friend Melissa missed the 10 hour cutoff by 39 seconds. She battled nausea, hung tough to the finish. And she finished. I'm proud of her. Twice, I have finished in well over 10 hours. Once on a muddy course and once with a sprained ankle. 


  1. Whoa, sorry about that but you were smart. I hope your leg heals.

  2. Ken...Your post is very admirable and you're positive energy I'd what keeps me trying to sign up and finish an ultra someday. I feel bad for all who struggled as you mentioned. Tough breaks. My struggle is that in the past, even if you finish after the cutoff the time doesn't count, but the finish does. Anyone who finished in record time our close, even a few seconds over should be awarded by taking on the challenge. We all know rules are rules, but past history clearly shows awards given to those finishing far after the girl you mentioned. That being said....I'm more determined to race an ultra someday from your inspiration as well as many others who do it for love of the sport. Your encouraging attitude and the positive attitude off others makes an epic runner. A cutoff of 39 seconds seems to be a slap in the face.

  3. Ken, thanks so much for continuing to support me and cheer for me! It means a lot.

    Sorry you had a tough day.