Race Report: Hinson Lake 24 Hour

Hinson Lake took place just one week after the NC24, the National 24 Hour Championship.   Boy do I wish there was just a little more time between these too events.  It seems that most people prepared to run substantial mileage would have chosen to do so at Nationals.   Therefore, seeing any impressive performances at Hinson would really be a wonderful surprise.

Tom Gabell is the RD of Hinson. The course is a 1.52 loop around a lake with one well-stocked aid station at the start finish area.  This year there were over 200 participants, making this race (what I was told by my friend Ray,who is likely the most reliable source on all thinks ultrarunning) the largest 24 hour event in the country.

It is obvious that Tom and his wife put on this race because they love the sport.  For a $24 fee he provides everything that a race costing 3-4 times that amount would provide, except chip timing.  As for timing, Tom recruited his family and they tracked us by tallying up our laps on a board.  The same person is your lap counter all day and with each crossing of the start/finish, you are greeted with a “I got you Shannon (or No. 7), that was lap #___ for you”.  I like this system 100 times better than chip timing.  Not only do you begin every lap knowing just what you have done, you also get your own personal cheerleader.  🙂  The volunteers were so fantastic that at one point, I changed my clothes, forget to pin on my bib, and STILL my countered called me out by name to tell me lap number.  Chip timing has nothing on the old school way.

As for my race, I am still recovering from the 75 mile run I completed last week.  I had low expectations, but that will not stop me from showing up.  I was hoping the soft clay surface would be forgiving on my knee.  I stopped last week when I felt pain building in my ACL.  There was just not enough time for my ACL to fully recover and I felt it early in the run.

This course is quietly sneaky in that it is much more challenging than it sounds.  Although generally flat on a non-technical trail with some short boardwalk bridges, the course seems like it would be rather fast.  However, there was one incline of significant length that was comprised of deep sand and some other shorter sand traps along the way.  In the addition to the sand, the temperatures, reaching as high as 96-97 as per some reports, added to the challenge of the day.

The unstable footing of the deeper sand immediately aggravated my ACL.  By laps 2, I began to experiment with some taping.  I did find that the tape helped enough to get me through half a loop, but increased pain would occur on the way in.  I would RICE for a few minutes, start to feel better, readjust the tape and then try another loop.  Eventually, it became painful to bend my knee at all and I figured that was enough messing around.  I believe I logged about 25 miles.  At that point I reverted to my original plan and purpose for going to Hinson, to crew for Jim.  It was great to see him reach the 100k mark in what turned out to be a tougher than expected race.

In consideration of the sandy trail and the 90 degree temperatures, Mike Morton’s performance is mind-boggling. Steady and strong, he strided along appearing quite focused all day.  Early on many people were not sure who he was and just what he thought he was doing putting about 15 laps on the second place guy in the first 12 hours of the race.  I tend to not get too excited about leaders since the 24 hour is about survival (and as I personally know, a great 12 hour run does not often make for a great 24 race).

However, as Mike approached his 66th lap, it was truly exciting to see him complete over 100 miles at just under13:15.  I feel lucky to have been present to witness such an amazing preformance!  The only question left was whether he could keep on going for the 40 more miles more he would need to make one of the three remaining spots on Team USA!

Mike was clearly in this for the duration and eventually went on to log about 154 miles!   This would have been good enough for 2nd place and an auto-entry into Worlds had he been present at NC24.   I would even guess that had he raced last week, in much cooler temperatures and on a flatter and faster surface, he would have logged well over 154 and the race between Serge (last weeks winner at 156) and Mike would have been incredibly fantastic to watch (since Serge was slow and steady and Mike faded hard in his last 4 hours).

As for me, Hinson is keeper and I look forward  to returning next year.

Thanks for reading,




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- who has written 6 posts on Run It Fast®.

I started racing during the later phases of my cancer treatment in October of 2006. I have logged over 200+ races and I'm most proud of my 24 hour 110.67 mile race, my 3:15 marathon and my 4:15 50k at the 2011 Nationals for 8th OA Female :). I have become a certified long distance running coach and currently volunteer with TNT. I help others reach their own personal best online, individually, or through the charity running program "Run for the Books" (http://oneforthebooks.org/blog/) which raises money to help provide books to pediatric oncology units.

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3 Responses to “Race Report: Hinson Lake 24 Hour”

  1. Brett says:

    I was also shocked and amazed at Mike Morton’s performance. 13 hours to do 100 miles – thats 4 back to back to back to back ~3:20 marathons. 18 hours to do 130 miles? 153 miles overall? Crazy! That is world record performance considering the course conditions (way soft sand in parts) and that the temperature was over 85F with the heat index for about 10 hours (close to 100F for about 4 hours) and the low temperature was still 70F+. I will never forget watching that live. It was like he was just impervious to heat.

    You nailed it on the event…its a winner and such a great group of folks. There is no wonder attendance is sky rocketing each year. A truly great event to ‘do as you please’ as he says.

  2. Frank Lilley says:

    Hey Shannon! Really enjoyed getting to finally meet you on Saturday. So sorry your knee gave you fits! Bummer!

    Jimbo did so well considering the temps! 100k was a great day! Maybe we’ll see you at Hampton . . .

  3. Tony Mollica says:

    Great RR as always! Good luck with your knee recovery!

    Wow on Mike Morton’s performance! I think Brett’s summary of 4 straight 3:20 marathons puts the first 100 in perspective. Then to be able to run 53 miles after that is incredible! No wonder he faded fast in the last 4 hours. All that proves is he is human and not an alien! LOL.

    Congratulations to Jim Plant on his 100k!


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