Sunday, November 20, 2011

Duncan Ridge 50k

The Duncan Ridge Trail 50K is the toughest 50K I have done to date with more than 11,000 feet of elevation gain. The elevation profile is displayed in the logo, but that is just the “out” of an “out and back” race. This race uses the Coosa Backcountry Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail, which are considered some of the toughest trails in Georgia. The race starts and finishes at Vogel State Park’s Lake Trahlyta in the gorgeous North Georgia Mountains.

Race morning Trey and I lined up along side many of our friends such as Sarah, Carl, Cathi, Sheridan, Nik, Lynn and many others. Most everyone I knew including Trey had signed up for the 30k option so I knew that I'd be on my own for half of the race. About 3 weeks prior to the race my friend Joey and I had taken a trip down to preview part of the course. We ran out 8 miles and then doubled back totalling 16 miles. After previewing the first bit of the course... I knew that this was going to be a tough 50k.

Trey and I ran out at a decent clip as I told him that there would be a gnarly climb coming up that would last for some time. We figured we should go ahead and make up some time here since there would be little running once we started up that first major climb. The climb went FOREVER. Once we hit the top of the climb... we were relieved thinking that the race must get easier from here. WRONG. After we hit the aid station Trey and I went our separate ways as the 30k option would now loop back around and take runners back to the finish line. Little did I know that my race had really just started.

After leaving out from the aid station I would be greeted with steep climbs and steep descents. I knew I could rip the downhills as the terrain was just my specialty, but those hills... they were nasty steep. NOBOBY could even entertain the thought of running them. Forget switchbacks. The builder of this trail DID NOT believe in switchbacks in any form or fashion! On a few of the climbs I hit some rough patches, but kept moving forward figuring that at least it was progress. On the way back I would see many runners heading to the very aid station I had just come from and I learned that I had about a 20 minute lead over the next female. I hoped that I could make up some time on the downhill and technical areas as these are things I have become increasingly comfortable with. I also knew that I might lose some time on the climbs. "JUST KEEP. MOVING. FORWARD"... I would say to myself.

About 20-25 minutes after the turn around James Rockwell ran along with me for a bit. He informed me that a black bear had been on the trail running between us for about 1/4 of a mile. Had I known a bear was running behind me... I may have stepped it up a bit and moved along a little faster! He said seeing the bear got him all excited and pumped up. It wasn't long after this James was ready to pass me and he effortlessly ran ahead. The next few miles were rough to say the least, but I kept pressing on until the next aid station. Here I was greeted with many familiar faces once again and after some kind words of encouragement from them... I moved on so I wouldn't get too cold. Many of the peaks we had summited were foggy and it was sleeting... so standing around and not moving were not an option.

Not long after leaving that last aid station I would get the downhill that I was looking forward to the entire race. Steep, technical downhill... oh how I love thee!!!! Here I suddenly had a burst of energy... it must have been the excitement of knowing I was actually going to make up some significant time on this segment. I was like a little kid cracked out on candy bombing down the hill and jumping over rocks and roots. Once at the bottom of the descent I grabbed a quick cola at the aid station and crossed over the creek gearing up for the last and final climb of the day. Run, jog, walk, run, jog, walk is basically the way it would go until I was nearly to the top. Then... BAM... hello.... I was totally bonking. Light headed, shaky and nauseous! I slowed to a walk until I could pull myself together enough for a jog. "JUST. KEEP. GOING. DON'T STOP.... you are almost there!" I kept telling myself this over and over. Finally the trail popped back out and crossed over Wolfpen Gap Road and from here was the final downhill to the finish line. Some how I pulled it together and jogged to the finish line.

Man... what a race... I was pooped! All I could do is sit at the picnic table near the food and scarf down a couple of pieces of pizza and cola. I don't even like pizza, but I was sooo weak and knew that nutrition had to go in before I passed out!

Thank-you Robert Lewellen for an epic experience and the chance to run on some of North Georgia's most beautiful trails.

1st Female and 18th overall with a time of 7:56

Also... friend and fellow Rock/Creek Race Team member Sarah Woerner won the 30K!!!!