Soooo... call me crazy....
I decided that I'd run the Cumberland Trail 50K race the weekend after Stump Jump 50K. Wasn't sure how it would turn out, but eh... what the heck. You never know until you give it a go. And.. I was able to talk a fellow trail runner Anna Morgan to enter the race and feel some pain with me.
The travel to Knoxville was wet and rainy the evening before. Not a good sign for race day. Did I mention there was a chill in the air too? We stayed with my best friend Michelle in downtown Knoxville and the race venue was only 20-25mins away. Race morning we woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast and were on the road to make our 6:00am start.
The start was cold, rainy and DARK. Yes... we ran with headlamps for about the first hour to hour and a half. I couldn't see too much during that first part of the race, but there was a mean uphill for quite some ways. Maybe it was best that this part was in the dark... LOL! Later I found out that this was a 3,000 foot climb all in one whop!!! It was muddy, slippery and wet. My legs were screaming! Once the darkness went away I started to look at all the beauty around me such as brightly colored fall leaves and lush moss on rocks. This took my mind off of the pain I was feeling from the brutal climb and I remembered why I was out there.
Almost to the half way point... I hit another low and wondered again... "why am I doing this again?". But shortly after this... I had an encounter with an Elk and all was right in my world. This would be enough to fuel me for a good finish. I happily ran back soaking in all the scenery and even enjoying the slipping and sliding in the mud. The creek crossings were cold, but they sure did aid in washing off the mud from my shoes... so I didn't even mind that so much. Much of the way back was all by myself and I was even okay with that. It was just me and the trail.
I did see Anna when I was barreling down one of the hills on my return and gave here a high 5 and told her she was 2nd overall and doing great. She looked much like me on the way up to the turn around, but I knew she'd perk up after seeing the Elk if it were still there.
Finally... I finished the race coming in 1st overall female. An unexpected bonus considering I had run a 50K the weekend before. Once I stopped moving I became cold quickly too!... I hurriedly changed into warm clothes!
It is a VERY challenging course, but is also very beautiful. It's harder than Stump Jump 50K and Mountain Mist 50K as the times reflect, but if you are into pushing your limits... I highly recommend you put this one on your race schedule for 2010. Susan Donnelly did a great job organizing this event.