Archive | March, 2013

Stramilano International Half Marathon Medal 2013

Stramilano International Half Marathon Medal (2013)

This is the finisher’s medal for the Stramilano International Half Marathon that was held on March 24, 2013 in Milan, Italy.


[Medal photo submitted by Claudio G.  Follow him on Twitter @troprunner]

Posted in Bling, Featured, Half Marathon, International, Medals0 Comments

Run To The Pub Medal 2013

Run To The Pub Half Marathon Medal (2013)

This is the medal the finishers of the Run To The Pub Half Marathon received on March 16, 2013 in Bozeman, Montana.

How convenient that a run to a pub medal would include a bottle opener!


[Medal photo submitted by RIF #31 Elizabeth Rehmer.  Follow her on Twitter @turtlegirl00]

Posted in Bling, Featured, Half Marathon, Medals, THE CLUB0 Comments

Snake Run 6 Hour Medal 2013

6 Hour Snake Run Medal (2013)

This is the medal for the 6 Hour Snake Run that was held on March 17, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Love the snake!


[medal photo submitted by RIF #251 Josh Faulkner. Follow him on Twitter  @joshjfaulkner]


Posted in Bling, Featured, Medals, THE CLUB, Timed Races, Ultra Marathon0 Comments

BLU 100 – Ed Ettinghausen and Joshua Holmes – Beyond Limits Ultra 100 – 2013

Beyond Limits Ultra 100 Mile Race Report – Joshua Holmes

We sometimes sign up for races that we know nothing about or other races whereby we’ve read dozens of race reports regarding what we might encounter during this or that adventure. Well, for some of you at least.  I don’t make a habit of reading race reports or writing them.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I had more drive to document all of my races like many of you do.  I try to document the biggest ones, like the 2011 Vol State 500K, 2012 Vol State 500K, or my 42 Mini Race Reports from 2012.

Race reports don’t exist for first year events. So I often feel more pressure to write one after completing an event that was just held for the first time.

The Beyond Limits Ultra 100 Mile Race was held on March 16-17, 2013 at the Pathfinder Ranch near Mountain Center, California, which is just south of Palm Springs in the San Jacinto Mountains.  The race also had a 50 mile, marathon, 50k, and 24-hour options.

The beauty of this race, and perhaps curse for some, is that the 100 milers were gifted the use of a cabin for the weekend on the Pathfinder Ranch.  This made it easy to roll out of bed and onto the starting line.  BLU also provided a nice pre-race dinner the night before (did not arrive in time) and fully cooked breakfast in the diner the morning of the race.

The ranch also provided a campfire, cookout, ropes course, and canoeing (on the little man-made pond that we looped every lap) for family members that made the trek as well.

The race consisted of a 1.8 mile loop that was very flat for the most part. There was no tree cover on the course and this played a factor in the afternoon and early hours of the morning as I’ll go into detail shortly.

The race started at 8am after the legendary Ed ‘Jester’ Ettinghausen and Ryan Launder played the Star Spangled Banner on the trumpet.

All the races then started at the same time as we rubbed elbows for the last time as the field quickly spread out over the 1.8 mile loop. As the day passed on, the course became even more sparse as runners from the shorter races reached their finish lines and left us that dared the 100 to keep rounding that loop over and over.

I ran well early on. I did the first 10 miles in 1:37, reached a half marathon in 2:07 with the only disturbances being a quick stop to the cabin for the restroom.  I reached 20 miles in 3:15 and the marathon checkpoint after four hours and twenty minutes. I was running well but the weather was changing as the sun was starting to blaze and heat up really fast.

50k came and went in 5:14 and I continued to push hard but also realized that the sun was starting to bake me a bit, especially at the pace I was pushing. From the 50k mark to 37 I was still putting down solid splits but it was becoming a struggle and battle that made completing a 100 miles seem like a fictitious goal.

Around this time I started to feel like I had pushed too hard. My eyelids were spasming a bit, I was hot, and felt like I had to slow it down, way down, like go to the cabin and lay down for a small bit if my goal was to finish the 100 and not wimper down to a 50 mile or 24-hour finish. So that’s what I did. I went to the cabin where my family was finishing up ‘nap time’ and I took off my shoes, socks and laid across the kinder bed with my feet propped up over the footboard for the better part of an hour. It was good to see my family, recharge, and reenergize for the remaining 63 miles.

Once back out on the course I felt good but started back slow to let my body re-acclimate and not over-heat as the sun was on high and we had no where to hide (outside the cabins). I covered up as well as I could using my Bartlett Park Ultras hat that covered the side of my face and neck.  I began to run well as the sun started to show signs of hibernating behind the mountains to the west.

I knew my original goal of going sub 20 hours was over after laying down for an hour, but I started to run hard again as I kept checking the computer monitors to check my place and kept moving up spots as the moon came up and the cold with it.

At some point I hit 50 miles in 10:27 and then 60 miles in 12:44. At this point it was freaking frigid cold. Like it was 9 degrees when I ran the Yellowstone-Teton 100 and I wasn’t nearly as cold as I was during this point of the race. My body was running well as the temperature dropped but at some point I just started shivering….and shivering. It made it tough for me to run for whatever reason. I believe with no trees, nothing to absorb the cold, being near the desert that it just felt way colder than it actually was on the thermostat. It was actually probably in the high 30’s. It felt about -5 degrees.

For better or worse, the cabin seemed too tempting at this point. I wasn’t moving well and laying down would be worth it. There was a living room at the cabin that had a sofa. So I went in to lay on it for awhile, hoping that a quick cat nap would find me.  This was around mile 67.

So I laid across the 70’s print, floral sofa and rested although sleep never met my eyes. I knew the clock was ticking but I wasn’t eager to get back out in the cold and death march. Finally, after nearly two hours had passed I slid my shoes back on and went to the truck to find a hoodie to throw on top of what I already had on which included two tech shirts, arm sleeves, Northface pullover, and now a hoodie. I had put a pair of running tights over my shorts at some point during the night. Add to that two pairs of gloves and two knit hats.

I marched out the door and death marched, albeit at a respectable speed, with my head buried in my hoodie and my hands inside it. During my two hour hiatus I had fallen down the leaderboard like a meteor towards earth during dinosaur season.  That was ok! My goal was to finish this 100 and add another buckle to my collection.  I was able to quickly walk those early AM miles along with Mark Hellenthal who was aiming for like his 26th 100 miler (which he easily did).  Mark and I pushed each other (without running but with continuous forward motion). Mark’s a faster walker than I am so I had to run occasionally to catch back up with him.

Loop courses, of the 100 mile variety, have pros and cons naturally. One con is well…doing the same loop over and over or 55x in this instance.  The loop, as mentioned before, was flat for the most part and consisted of a dirt road/path. There was a 0.20 mile section that was paved, but you could run in the dirt next to the road if you opted to. I often ran on the asphalt as it was a nice variety from the rest of the loop that felt refreshing to the feet and was a bit faster.

At some point the sun crept over the mountains to the east and it warmed not only my spirit but my legs as I started to run really well once again.  Where was this the last few hours? Oh yeah shivering away like Jack holding on to a piece of wreckage from the Titanic in the frigid Atlantic Ocean. But that was then and this was now and I was running some of my best splits of the past 80 miles.

One reason I had picked it up was that I had done the math and calculated that at my then pace it would take me like 6 more hours for a 28:30ish finish. That was too far away and I was ready to put this race to bed. There is only two ways to do that, quit or run like you are being chased by a pink pony.

My family had also emerged from the cabin during this time and driven to breakfast and back. It was a boost seeing them and knowing that the end was near.

It took me 3 hours and 8 minutes to run the 10 miles from 80 to 90.  The last 10 miles of the race from 90 to 100 took 1 hour and 54 minutes.

I ran the last 5-7 miles trying to break the stupid number known as 26. I realized I’d easily do that with 2 miles left to go but continued to push hard, running with as much intensity as I had left at that point, to finish strong and with as little left in the tank as possible.

I came to the last 1/3 mile of the loop/race that went around the small pond. My family met me and my son ran with me for the last 100 yards as we crossed the finish line together. Mark and his bride-to-be had waited as well for me to finish which was very kind of them.

In summation: Race directors Stephanie Kundlin and Ken Rubeli did an amazing job putting on this first year event. Everything from the shirts, buckle, cabins, meals, and aid stations was first class.  I didn’t perform as well as I’d like, but I put down a lot of good miles.  I wasn’t totally prepared for how hot and sunny it got during the day or how frigid cold it got at night. I’ll be better prepared for both next time.  I’d highly recommend this race to anyone that is considering it in the future. It was a great weekend away from civilization.

BLU 100 Splits

  • Half Marathon: 2:07
  • Marathon: 4:20
  • 50K: 5:14
  • 50 Mile: 10:27
  • 100K: 13:13
  • Miles 1-10: 1:37
  • Miles 11-20: 1:38
  • Miles 21-30: 1:48
  • Miles 31-40: 3:25
  • Miles 41-50: 1:59
  • Miles 51-60: 2:17
  • Miles 61-70: 2:16
  • Miles 71-80: 5:50
  • Miles 81-90: 3:08
  • Miles 91-100: 1:54
  • Finishing Time: 25:52:22

Sidenote: I enjoyed all the conversations I had throughout this race with my fellow runners. It was also a pleasure to share the course with some true greats of the sport including Eric Clifton, The Jester, Dave James, Michael Miller, Brian Recore, John Wog, Anthony Culpepper, Stacey Costa, Alexander Scherz, Mark Hellenthal and others.

I also want to be sure to note that photographer Lynn Cao went above and beyond. She was out there as much if not more than most of the runners taking photographs throughout the day and night. She then posted the photos to her Facebook page for download free of charge. Check her out on Facebook HERE.

Posted in Race Reports, Ultra Marathon0 Comments

Where RUN IT FAST Runners Are Running This Weekend (March 23-24, 2013)

Where RUN IT FAST Runners Are Running This Weekend (March 23-24, 2013)


Here is a look at where everyone is running this weekend. We had just 22 responses this week. Good luck to everyone and Run It Fast!

To join Run It Fast – The Club then click HERE to read more details.



Storified by Joshua Holmes· Fri, Mar 22 2013 12:53:33

@runitfast Greenway Marathon Nashville, TNDanny Staggs
@runitfast Doing my final 20 miler in prep for Big Sur Marathon-including my Hurricane Point hill sim. 5 wks to go! #runitfastDennis Arriaga
@runitfast Ocean Drive Marathon. Cape May NJ!Laura Raeder
@runitfast I hope to run some trails this weekend. Hopefully check out a possible race course. Cross your fingers! #runitfast #5Lisa Gonzales
@runitfast long training run around Gibson County, Tennessee.Robin Robbins
@runitfast I am so excited for my trail race at Chikasaw tomorrow, this is where I did all my marathon training the past 18 weeksMarjorie Mitchell
@runitfast 3000m at Moscow University Championships-yup runnin’ in a college meet!Michelle Mitchell
@runitfast Sleepy Hollow 1/2 marathon Sat. Suffolk County 1/2 on Sun. ITS A 2FER weekend woohooMichael McLaughlin
@runitfast 8-10 mile group run Saturday morning.Stephen G
@runitfast in Anapoima, Colombia. Right at the footgills if the colombian andes!Jorge Angel
@runitfast No races this weekend for the first time in nearly two months. I’ll get in some light training. RIF #1 #runitfastJoshua Holmes
@runitfast south #jersey for the ocean drive marathon #runchatAnthony Bednarz
@runitfast El Segundo Race 4 Education tomorrow morning. 10k ready to throw down some of my hardest speed of 2013 so far.Zack Jenkins
@runitfast #SundayNairobiHash will hike the Aberdares on Saturday,Run in parklands sunday,#NairobiHashRun Monday from Visa place.Nairobi Hash House H
@runitfast 7-mile training run (for a 15K) in atlanta.Lisa G.
@runitfast terrapin mountain 50k on saturday. 31.1 miles and 7,560 ft climbing of pure mountain bliss.nicklaus combs
@runitfast Running 20 miles LSD tomorrow :)Gordie Bezkorovainy
@runitfast half marathon in Loughborough, England on Sunday (looks like it will be in the snow too!)Debbie Hill
23 days until my marathon!! #excited #firstofmany @runitfast #train #runTyler Moses
@runitfast SpartanRace NC!Enrique Tomas
@runitfast 20 miles on the Falling Waters Trail in Jackson MichiganJeff Windham
@runitfast should of been racing 14miles in coniston, but cancelled due to arctic weather!Andrew Fairbairn

Posted in Running0 Comments

Beyond Limits Ultra 100 Mile Buckle – Run It Fast – 2013

Beyond Limits Ultra 100 Mile Buckle (2013)

Here is the belt buckle that was awarded to finishers of the Beyond Limits Ultra 100 Miler that was held on March 16-17, 2013 in Mountain Center, California at the Pathfinder Ranch.


[Medal submitted by RIF #1 Joshua Holmes. Follow on Twitter @bayou]

Posted in Bling, Buckles, Featured, Medals, Ultra Marathon0 Comments


February 2013 Extreme Racer Standings

Fast Run It Fast Club Members!

It’s time for an Extreme Racer update. We now have 48 RIF Club members who have submitted points and/or monthly miles for 2013 (only points count in the standings so only 45 Club members are listed below)

There was a slight change in the top 3 for Overall, Men, and Women. RIF #159 Diane Bolton is still in the lead with 327.8 points, followed by RIF #190 John Kent Leighton with 208.5 points in 2nd, and not far behind is RIF #186 Danny Staggs with 191.7 points in 3rd.

On the Men’s Leaderboard, John is in 1st, followed by Danny in 2nd, and RIF #1 Joshua Holmes in 3rd with 179.3 points.

On the Women’s Leaderboard, Diane is in 1st, followed by RIF #218 Carol Goslin in 2nd with 139.6 points, and RIF #220 Sandy Staggs in 3rd with 122.7 points.

Very cool to see the Top 10 filled with 50/50 men and women! Here are the full standings:

Extreme Leaderboard Top 10
1. Diane Bolton – 327.8 (RIF#159)
2. John Kent Leighton – 208.5 (RIF#190)
3. Danny Staggs – 191.7 (RIF#186)
4. Joshua Holmes – 179.3 (RIF#1)
5. Carol Goslin – 139.6 (RIF#218)
6. Sandy Staggs – 122.7 (RIF#220)
7. Mark Watson – 114.4 (RIF#173)
8. Nicholas Norfolk – 110 (RIF#116)
9. Christy Scott – 102.3 (RIF#231)
10. Heather Shoemaker – 94.6 (RIF#44)

Men’s Leaderboard
1. John Kent Leighton – 208.5 (RIF#190)
2. Danny Staggs – 191.7 (RIF#186)
3. Joshua Holmes – 179.3 (RIF#1)
4. Mark Watson – 114.4 (RIF#173)
5. Nicholas Norfolk – 110 (RIF#116)
6. Rick Thiounn – 79.5 (RIF#111)
7. Anthony Ohrey – 67.2 (RIF#27)
8. Billy Cannon – 67.2 (RIF#169)
9. David Wingard – 65.5 (RIF#101)
10. Rodrigo Jiménez – 51.31 (RIF#203)
11. Naresh Kumar – 50 (RIF#2)
12. Kevin Brandon – 44.1 (RIF#214)
13. Josh Liggett – 36.7 (RIF#147)
14. Robin Robbins – 31 (RIF#33)
15. Nathan Bass – 31 (RIF#174)
16. Stewart Crouch – 29.3 (RIF#89)
17. Dennis Arriaga – 26.2 (RIF#140)
18. Chris Haynes – 26.2 (RIF#223)
19. Nikiah Nudell – 26.2 (RIF#234)
20. Austin Coates – 22.4 (RIF#241)
21. Bill Baker – 13.1 (RIF#196)
22. Stephen Griffin – 9.3 (RIF#48)
23. Kevin Ronayne – 5 (RIF#11)

Women’s Leaderboard
1. Diane Bolton – 327.8 (RIF#159)
2. Carol Goslin – 139.6 (RIF#218)
3. Sandy Staggs – 122.7 (RIF#220)
4. Christy Scott – 102.3 (RIF#231)
5. Heather Shoemaker – 94.6 (RIF#44)
6. Lisa Gonzales – 90.56 (RIF#5)
7. Alicia Eno – 87.9 (RIF#126)
8. Jennifer Whitley – 82 (RIF#160)
9. Laura Raeder – 78.6 (RIF#20)
10. Melanie Kayal – 63.4 (RIF#202)
11. Leigh Marsh – 61.7 (RIF#192)
12. Elaine Bickel Green – 57.2 (RIF#217)
13. Marlene Deem – 52.4 (RIF#189)
14. Heather Zeigler – 39.3 (RIF#246)
15. Jill Hassen – 31 (RIF#242)
16. Amanda Staggs – 29.3 (RIF#210)
17. Jennifer Wood – 26.2 (RIF#243)
18. Marj Mitchell – 23.1 (RIF#4)
19. Christy Bowers – 19.3 (RIF#60)
20. Beth Hosick – 11.2 (RIF#219)
21. Natalie Torres – 6.2 (RIF#72)
22. Donna Pittman – 6.2 (RIF#181)

We did a random drawing to pick one RIF Club member who submitted points in February and the February winner is RIF #140 Dennis Arriaga! We’ll be sending him a Gone For A Run sign. Don’t forget to submit your points/monthly miles next month for a chance to win!

Details on joining Run It Fast – The Club

[Extreme Racer points are rewarded per each racing mile completed. Example: marathon = 26.2 points, half marathon 13.1 points, etc.]

[photo from Diane Bolton]

Posted in Extreme Racer, Running, THE CLUB0 Comments

Baatan Memorial Death March Medal – Run It Fast – 2013

Bataan Memorial Death March Medal (2013)

Here is the finisher’s medal/dog tag from the Bataan Memorial Death March (Marathon) that took place in White Sands, New Mexico on Sunday, March 17, 2013.


[Medal submitted by RIF #5 Lisa Gonzales. Follow on Twitter @runlikeacoyote]

Posted in Bling, Featured, Marathon, Medals0 Comments

2013 Delano Park 12 Hour Ultra Race Report – Charlie Taylor

2013 Delano Park 12 Hour Race Recap
March 9, 2013

When I read the description of this race, I knew that it would be a good test of how ready I am to run my first 100 miler, so I signed up early in January.

Training had not gone according to plan most of the first of 2013, I am about 100 miles behind last year at this point, but last year wasn’t what I had wanted it to be either. Other than the 2 races I have run, a 50K and a 100K, I have not run but about 2 runs over 20 miles. Some of it was due to injuries that I had in early December and some of it as just plain lazy I guess. Last Saturday, I had intended to knock out a 20, instead, went on a trail run with my friend Doug Boomer on our pipeline course. We had discovered a new trail and as we ran through the woods, we came upon a property line fence. Boomer climbed over it and as I stepped on the bottom wire to cross and swung my leg over the top wire, the bottom wire broke, hurling me directly to the ground with 2 of the barbs gouging a big place from the back of the knee all the way up into my butt cheek. I was bleeding like a stuck hog and I know Boomer wanted to laugh, but I think he didn’t because he thought he might have to come over and help me get out of the clutches of the barbed wire. Well, we went on and finished our run, seeing that we were still 5 miles from the car, with my leg throbbing with every footstrike. So now, I have a 12 hour race a week later and I have cut the crap out of my leg. Just what I needed!

Fast forward to Friday night, March 8th. Because I am cheap, I decided to drive down to Decatur, Alabama the night before and try to get some sleep in the truck instead of leaving early Saturday morning. Terri thought that I might be uncomfortable trying to sleep in my Ford Ranger so she graciously offered me her van. It was only 140 miles away and I made it to Delano Park around 11PM, was happy that I could park within 20 feet of the course, and did so. It was about 35 degrees, not terribly cold, but I figured that I would be ok with a little bit of cover. I crashed pretty quick and sometime around 2AM, woke up freezing. At that time I decided that I probably should put on a few more articles of clothing and went back to sleep, having covered up a bit more. I must have slept pretty darn good because the next thing I remember, It was daylight and there were cars around me everywhere. I didn’t hear a one of them come in. Sure was glad I had the best parking spot on the entire place!!

The race started at 6AM and it was still in the mid 30’s. It is pretty nice on these kind of races because you have your stuff right beside the course and every mile, you pass your spot. I decided to start out with a bunch of clothes on knowing that I could shed anything I wanted any time I wanted to. I had set all my stuff out so that it would be easy to grab whatever I needed as I passed, wasting very little time. One thing I consistently see in these kind of races is runners spending a lot of time stopped at their spots. I don’t think many of them realize how much overall time they are wasting and if they could just cut the stops by a minute each, they would be able to get more miles in. My goal was to spend about 20-40 seconds at my stops.
6AM and the race is on. The course was one mile long and kinda wove in and out, backtracking itself in one place-separated by a banner, then a couple little rises (about 10 foot of climb in the entire loop), around a water tower, past Decatur High School, then back to the start/finish where you crossed over the timing mat to start all over again. I intended to start out at a respectable 8:40-9:00 pace and never get any faster than about 8:30. My mileage goal was 65 miles. Having never run a 12 hour event before, I was not sure how I would feel in the latter stages. I had run 54 miles last summer in a 10 hour event and was sure I could do it, but I do remember “falling apart” the last couple hours.

My first miles were right on target, 9:04, 8:44, 8:37, 9:01, and 8:36. At Mile 8, I took my first it stop and that one came in at 10:15. I hit the 10 mile mark in 1 hr 30 min, feeling pretty good. I continued back on my goal pace, stopping again at mile 13 and was at 15 miles in 2:18. It was getting rather warm, the high was supposed to get to 70 and I made sure to drink a lot of water and shed more clothes. I had also drank about 6 oz of ASEA before starting and intended to drink 2-3 oz every 30 minutes. I hit the 20 mile mark in 3 hours 3 minutes and felt like I might be able to top out at 70 miles instead of the 65 goal I had set.

I took a little longer break at mile 21 and stretched the legs a bit. My miles were starting to be in the 10:00-10:30 range and I crossed the line for 26.2 miles in 4:06, not a bad time considering that I still had almost 8 hours to run. My 50K split was only 15 seconds over 5 hours, which would have been a great finishing time on some of the 50k’s that I have run, however, some of them are crazy hilly and this race was flat.

My mile splits are getting a bit slower and this is the time in ultra races where the little demons start talking to you, making you want to quit and telling you how stupid you are for running. I pressed on, ignoring them as much as possible. When one runs ultras, there is a lot of time to think of things and if you don’t find something positive to think about, the negatives will kick your butt. My trick is to constantly do the math on the percentages of how far I have gone and what percentage I have left. When the clock hit 6 hours, I had just crossed the line for my 35th mile and from there it was downhill, halfway to the finish. Now as I’m sure everybody can imagine, this is easier to talk about than to do but it does do something in my mind, knowing that there is less time to go. Mile times crept into the 12 minute range and during this point, I took a 5-6 minute break and really stretched out. This 20:12 mile turned out to be my slowest mile. I hit 40 miles in 6:57 and then 45 in 8:04. I started feeling better and getting the splits back down into the 11’s. I remember thinking that I had 4 hours to run 20 miles and hit my goal. That should be easy. Should be, but then again, I had already run 45 miles. I started concentrating on getting 5 miles per hour, including my stops, which were coming more often. A lot of times, I would stop for 10 seconds and drink some more water. One good thing about running mile loops is that I did not have to carry anything.

As I got closer to 50 miles, I thought that I might be able to break 9 hours (I had run 8:55 in my 10 hour run last year), but crossed the line for 50 miles in 9:03. Now the finish was getting closer, but still a long way off. Mile 55 was at 10:07 and I hit 60 in 11:08. My last 4 miles were 10:31, 11:50, 10:03, and 8:50. When I crossed the line at mile 62, I had 23 minutes left and knew that I could get 2 more with an outside chance of 3. When I completed mile 64, there was a bit over 5 minutes left and I went on, thinking that I might get close and they might count it, but ended up being 3/10 mile short, officially finishing 64 miles.

I always knew how far I had run and occasionally later in the race, the race director would call out the distance as I crossed the line, but I never knew what place I was in. I did know about the guy who was first overall, heck he lapped me 14 times, but I knew there were several others that I had not lapped and had not lapped me and I figured there were several of us that would be close to each other. Turns out, first place was 78 miles, 2nd was 68, 3rd 66, and 4th thru 7th had 64. I was the last of those 4 and ended up 7th overall and first place Master division (over 40).

I felt good at the finish, however, I had finished pretty hard and immediately went to my chair and sat for 10-15 minutes. 12 hours continuous running really takes a toll on the human body! As I mentioned earlier, I have been drinking ASEA for year now, and drank about 16 ounces during the race and I attribute this to my amazing recovery process. After finishing, I had relatively little pain, which is a common thing for those who drink this amazing product.
With the race being over, I got my award, loaded the van and headed back home to Gallatin, cleaned up, and got a great night of sleep.

What did I learn while running this race? Call me crazy, but I like these kind of races.. a lot. There is plenty of time to think, the pace is much slower than marathon pace, and I actually do pretty good at long distances. I’m learning more and more how to eat before my stomach starts growling in races and how important that is to not bonking. I also got to see super Awesome Dewayne Satterfield win the 50 mile race in a crazy 6 hours 23 minutes (or somewhere close to that)

What did I like? The race was very well organized, plenty of food and drinks and most importantly, plenty of cheering folks to help you keep going. The one mile loop was nice because it allowed me to break each lap into halves, they did go by pretty fast (in my mind at least). Friendly North Alabama folks, as always. I have come to really enjoy those North Alabama races.

What did I not like? Nothing really. The gravel got a little soft in a couple places and it would mess with footing. That little 10 foot climb became something I dreaded every lap (you have to have something to dread). I really did not like having to stop and remove my shoes a couple times to get gravels out.

Will I do Delano Park 12 hour again? Definitely

What’s up next? This Saturday, March 16, I will run the Savage Gulf Trail marathon in Bersheeba Springs, TN. This thing runs down into what they call the grand canyon of the east with lots of technical footing, lots of climbing, lots of big rocks, and a couple creeks to cross. Me, Doug Boomer, and Scott Jordan are gonna go see what we’re made of.

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2013 Savage Gulf Marathon Race Report – Charlie Taylor

2013 Savage Gulf Trail Marathon

This race was billed as the toughest trail marathon in the country and was limited to 100 entrants. My friend Scott Jordan had entered early and everybody thought it would fill pretty fast but even a couple weeks before the race, there were still 20 openings. Scott had been talking me and Boomer about running it with him and one morning while running, after about 5 minutes of chatting about Savage Gulf Marathon, both of us decided to throw in and sign up. What were we thinking?

Savage Gulf is part of the South Cumberland natural area and lies just north of Beersheeba Springs, Tn. The 1000 foot deep gorge is shaped like a giant crow’s foot and contains the most spectacular rock formations in Tennessee. The race starts at the ranger’s station, goes through the woods for about 3 miles before dropping down into the gorge through a 10 foot wide, 150 foot deep split in the cliff called the stone door and that is where the fun really begins.
I had just run the Delano Park 12 hour ultra the Saturday before logging 64 miles, however, my legs felt great and I thought I was at least somewhat ready for what was to come. I have been drinking ASEA, a cellular replacement product for a year and sure as promised, my recovery has been phenominal. ASEA puts redox signaling molecules back into the body, the stuff in the body’s cells that help it to heal and to recover. As we age, our bodies, due to wear and tear, what we eat and drink, stress, and other things, make less and less of the “healing molecules”. That is why youngsters heal faster than we who are older. The result of ASEA is faster recovery, more endurance, and an increased level of antioxidents.

Scott, Boomer, and I decided to head out for Savage Gulf about 4:30AM, since it is only about a 2 hour drive from Gallatin. After a quick breakfast at the Waffle House and a quick meeting with Frank Schmidt (Smitty), we were on our way. The drive, once you get off I-24, through Pelham, up Highway 50 to Beersheeba Springs is beautiful. It reminded me a lot of some of the final part of last year’s VolState road race, just one mountain to the east. We arrived at the park with about an hour to prepare for the unknown. I think, deep inside, we all knew what to expect.

Runners were arriving, we stood in line to get our race numbers, and were happy to get some pretty good loot in our Goodie bags, a nice Tech shirt proclaiming the Savage Gulf to indeed be the country’s toughest trail marathon and a really nice $30 Rock Creek running cap. Rock Creek, a Chattanooga outfitter is really the bomb diggity when it comes to taking care of trail runners. They sponsor 10 our more great Chattanooga trail races including Stump Jump, Upchuck 50K, Lookout Mt 50 miler, and more, not to mention throwing out goodies at races like this. Thanks for the cap Guys!! I will wear it proudly (and often). We also got a cool Savage Gulf Window decal.

One thing I really like about running trail races is that the elite runners act just like the rest of us. If you didn’t know who they were, you would not know that they would end up winning the race. We met and talked to Brian Schmidt (Smitty’s son) who would indeed win this race with an outstanding course record time of 4:21 (yep, that’s super fast for this marathon). My friends Michal Scott, Phil Zimmerman from Nashville, Wilson From Rome Georgia, and several more were there. We all chatted a bit, tried to keep warm in the early morning 40 degree weather and got our race gear on, waiting for the final call. The weather forecast called for 72 degrees, warm for March in middle Tennessee and we all figured (except Scott Jordan) that we had better carry a little more water than normal. I had decided the night before to wear my Nathan backpack which holds an 80 oz water bladder, along with a few pockets, handy for my trusty Olympus Stylus Tough Camera, some Kramergesic skin lube, a couple 8 oz pouches of ASEA, making it easy to access any of my stuff. Boomer had a couple hand held water bottles but Scott only carried one. Big mistake!

The call was made, we all shed our outer layers, down to bare bones and hurried over to the starting area. We all immediately noticed the official starter, dressed in Colonial Garb, with a gun that almost looked like a small cannon. As we prepare for the start, we were told that the gun was a 96 calibre black power and was packed heavy. This thing had such a kick that it had to be mounted on a frame, I don’t believe 2 men could have held it when it fired. We were given a few instructions and that big gun went BOOM and we were off.

Like I said before, the first 3 miles were really runnable and run we did. I looked at my Garmin and noticed that I was doing a 7:50 pace and thought to myself, “what am I doing going this fast?” Everybody knows not to go out too fast. That would be slow in a road marathon but this wasn’t any old road marathon. After our initial 3 miles the course turned right and went down through the Stone Doors, a massive 10 foot wide split between the cliff, and about a 500 feet drop, violently into the gorge. Immediately, the terrain was different. As we descended into the gorge, there were big rocks and twists and turns, many switchbacks, fallen trees, and some runnable trail. At the bottom of the gorge, we made a hard turn to the left and crossed a 100 foot cable bridge over a dry creek bed. They tell me that after only a little rain, this creek is a mighty rushing river and when hiking in Savage Gulf, it is always a good idea to pay attention to where you are if it rains. The sign before the bridge warned that there was no running allowed crossing the bridge. If you weren’t paying close attention, any running would shake the bridge so violently that it could throw you off. I ran anyway, heck it was runnable surface!

Immediately after crossing the bridge, the terrain went back up, climbing up the grades and jumping over more rocks. There were several places where the boulders were covered with moss and footing was somewhat treacherous. At mile 7, there was another swinging bridge and the first aid station was on the other side of it. I still had plenty of water in my backpack so I passed on a refill. After a very quick food refuel, I was back on my way. The course ran alongside the dry creek before angling off to the left and back into the woods. About a mile after the aid station, the Chattanooga cave and rescue team had set up a rope system across the creek. The creek bed was dry but the rocks were slick as glass. I heard later about several runners taking big falls on those rocks. Immediately after crossing, the trail headed up the south side of the mountain. The sun was coming up pretty strong in the sky and as it bore through the tree tops, I wished that I had brought my sunglasses. The temps were rising and I guess that it was somewhere in the 70 degree range already. I looked up and could see some of the runners who had passed me earlier climbing the hill in front of me. My, my, they were a long way up the side of the mountain!

Running the switchbacks became a game. How many would there be before I topped out? Almost every time the trail would go back to the left, I had a bit of somewhat level trail and I made the best I could of it. As I neared the top, I came upon some awesome limestone cliffs on my right. Right beside the cliffs was very runnable but as I passed them, the terrain again became violent. Weaving in and out of rocks, jumping from one to another, watching every place the feet landed was the order of the day. Just a bit past the 9 mile mark, I came into a clearing and the view almost took my breath. I was about to cross another swinging bridge that crossed a raging stream and directly on the other side of the bridge was a massive overhanging cliff that I was to run underneath. As I came under the giant ledge, the dirt was well marked with the footprints of the 30 or more runners who were in front of me. The overhang was at least 50 feet over my head and extended another 50 feet to my left. The cliff was shaped like a giant crescent and I immediately imagined a thousand years ago how the Indians probably camped and lived underneath this shelter.

When running races, there is not much time to dwell on things except running so as I ran inside the semi-circle, I looked off to my left and the raging creek was just a foot slip away. The trail took another little jaunt through some trees and There I saw my friend Smitty and his grandson. Smitty had gone on ahead to cheer on his son Brian and graciously had carried a couple things for me to pick up at that point. He told us we were a little over a mile to the next aid station. The trail went back into the woods, more switchbacks and eventually wound up at the aid station. I found myself getting a bit hungry and made it a point to eat a couple boiled potatoes, some gummy bears, a few potato chips and refill my depleting water pouch. I usually do not waste much time at aid stations and found myself getting back in front of several runners who had passed me earlier. I never did see any of them again. I was informed that the next aid station was 6 miles away and that 3 miles of that would be easy trail through the trees. Best news I had heard all day!! I was tired of climbing on rocks and looked forward to being able to stretch it out a bit. They were right, there were almost 4 miles of ups and downs but most of it was easy on the feet, most of it running the ridge on what appeared to be the east side of the canyon. There were several places where you could see for miles and miles and the temptation to stop and stare was enormous but runners gotta keep running and on I went.

At about mile 15, I passed a Ranger taking pictures and he informed me that I was about 2 miles from the aid station. Just after that, the trail became a wagon road, filled with big softball sized rocks, and heading straight down the hill. This ¼ mile drop then made a hard right and again, followed directly under the cliffs that I had been running on before. All the way, there were some massive cliffs off to my right, many with pretty waterfalls coming toward me. The wagon trail that I was running on, I found out later was a stagecoach road, carved out of the hillside in the mid 1800’s by slave labor. Wow, what an experience! I cannot imagine pulling a stagecoach across these hills!

On my way down this hill, I came upon what appeared to be my friend, Doug Boomer. He was walking and didn’t look like he was doing well. As I came upon him, he turned around and said he knew that it was me behind him. We talked for a second, his foot was killing him and I said I was going on, and that was it. The rock infested road then made a left and back into the trees. I was about a mile from the next aid station and as I got closer and closer to the creek, the greenery increased and the path got easier. All of a sudden, I came upon the aid station, stopped for a couple minutes, refilled the water bladder, ate some more potatoes, drank some gatoraid, and was on my way again.

I was 9 miles from the finish and felt like I had already run 100 miles. The next 4 miles was backtracking where we had run coming into mile 7 aid station and since a lot of it was downhill, I knew that going back was UPHILL! It was, a lot of it technical and some of it smooth trail. Miles seem to go by so much slower when you are tired and they really went slow here. I remember hitting mile 20 and realizing that I still had 6 miles to go. I knew that the last 3 miles was probably the easiest part of the race but I was still 3 miles away from the final hill that I had been warned about. I came back to the first cable bridge, crossed it and started the dreaded climb back toward the Stone Door with all the switchbacks and rocks. As the trail passed by the turn where we originally came down in the beginning and proceeded on toward the final hill, the course would climb 300-400 feet, then drop back down almost to the creek. Every time I would get close to the creek, I was tempted to just take a dive but knew that I probably would not finish the race. I passed at least 3 scouting groups out on day hikes and they would look at me like I was crazy or something. At that point, I would have agreed with them. The cliffs on the right were massive and I knew that somewhere up there, there was indeed a finish line. I went on. Whenever it would seem that just maybe I was getting closer to the big climb, the trail would turn left and go down to the creek again. Then.. I started up another hill and just at the bottom, there was a ranger with a water cooler. He asked me if I needed anything and told me that I was a mile from the final aid station. That meant that I was getting ready to bust that big hill that everybody had told me about!

The final climb was brutal, however, not nearly what I had expected. It was rocky and steep, probably a 30 degree grade for ½ mile or so, but the hardest thing about it was that I had dreaded it so much. I really had expected like a 60 degree grade, something that resembled a Barkley Marathons hill. Don’t let me kid you though, it was hard. I passed a family walking up the hill and they were barely moving. I was barely moving, but I still passed them. About halfway up, I decided that I would lay down on a big flat rock that was on the left for a minute or so and that did help my attitude a lot. I got up after a couple minutes and went on. Eventually, I came to a right turn which consisted of a massive amount of exposed tree roots that were just begging to grab onto one of my toes as I passed by. Another few feet and, wow, it became flat!
From there, it was a short distance to the final aid station. I stopped for a second and then proceeded the final 3 miles. At this time, I had about 33 minutes to break 7 hours and for a moment I thought, “wow, this will be a piece of cake”. It was 2.9 miles to the finish and I found myself not really caring whether I busted 7 hours or not. Like the weinie I am in the late states of a difficult race, I decided that I really did not care. I was so worn out that I would run ¼ mile, then walk for a minute or so, then run, then walk. Every time that I would look at my watch and realize that I still could break 7 hours, my insanity would take over. To make a long story short, I turned the corner upon entering the highway, with a 200 yard uphill climb to the finish at 7 hours 20 seconds. I crossed the line in 7:01:21. Just knowing that I could have done it is good enough for me.

Upon finishing, I received a nice Outdoor Research cap and congratulations from all who were around. I sure was glad this thing was over! As I passed the finish line, I also passed a folding table loaded down with BBQ, beans, coleslaw and decided that I probably needed to go sit down for a minute before attempting to carry a plate. Scott Jordan was sitting at a picnic table and informed me that he had run a fine 5:58 and finished 25th overall and first in the over 50 division. Great Job, Scott!! Turns out that he had severely twisted an ankle on one of the rocks, had to have it taped, but had finished strong in spite of the injury. Scott had also not carried enough water and had paid dearly for that. He became really dehydrated and drank 5 bottles of water at the 17 mile aid station. Boomer had made it in via a 4 wheeler ride. Our friend Brian Schmidt had indeed won the race in a new course record time of 4:21 (the old record was 4:55). Actually the top 4 broke the old record. The first female also broke the female course record. I sat for a bit before getting myself a nice loaded up plate of Tennessee cooking.

After eating and resting a bit, my body started feeling somewhat better and we all loaded up in the truck and left. It was a good ride home, all 3 of us were hurting in our own way, probably Scott hurting the most.

I had no idea of where I had finished, thinking that I probably was around 60th. Sunday, when the race results were posted, I surprisingly found that I had finished 48th and 5th Grandmaster. There were several runners who did not finish, no shame at all in that. This is the toughest course I have ever run.

What did I learn? That if you keep on going and don’t quit, you can really do about anything you want to (might not be the smartest thing you ever did though). These Cumberland mountain trails are rugged but extremely beautiful.

What did I do wrong? I weigh about 20 lbs too much, have absolutely got to lose the weight if I want to do well in my racing career. I started a little too fast and was not aggressive enough on the uphills. I could have pushed harder

What did I do right? I carried the camera, glad I did. It is always cool to get good pics of a tough race, helps you remember it much better, not that I will forget this one soon. I carried the Nathan water pack. I did drink about 200 oz of water and could have drank more. I carried my body glide, no chaffing and no irritation of the barbed wire fence butchering of my left leg.
Will I run this again? At first I said no but after waking up Sunday morning and thinking about it a bit, I really do like this kind of race. If I plan on ever attempting Barkley, which makes this race look like playing in the sandbox, I will need many more of these for pain tolerance. Barkley is in 2 weeks so a race like this 2 weeks before will either have you ready or you are not ready, nuff said.

In summary, 7:01:21 finish time 48th place overall – 5th Grandmaster

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