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Nathan and Melissa Judd Thunder Rock 100 – Run It Fast

Thunder Rock 100 Mile Race Report – Nathan Judd

Rock Creek’s Thunder Rock 100 Mile Trail Race

0-25 (Start to Reliance)

We began by crossing a long bridge across the Ocoee River with ACDC’s Thunderstruck blaring through the speakers. That was the perfect way to start the race. I made sure to start out very conservatively and to keep myself from getting caught up in the adrenaline at the start. The trail immediately started a climb, which was indicative of what would be upcoming all day. I felt very good for the first 5 miles and ran with a college buddy, Paddy Flanagan, for this stretch. It did begin to hail on us a couple of times in the first stretch. This made it actually kind of cold for a bit, but other than that, the weather was perfect for the start. Any more would have been too much. I came into the first aid station at Thunder Rock (mile 5) and had a quick refill before heading back out onto the trail.

I believe we were on the Benton McKaye for the next stretch. Again, this was a significant climb. I think it was after this climb that I decided to go ahead and push ahead for a bit. I met some interesting people along the way. I ran with a 17 year old girl for a bit, and she said it was her 4th attempt at a 100. It was fun talking to her, and I tried to give her some advice I wish I would have heard when I was her age. She was far ahead of her years. We reached the top of this climbing section probably somewhere around 15 miles in. There was an aid station here with some boy scouts who were playing. (I ran with a guy later who said one of the scouts hit him with a rock).

We had some muddy downhill for quite a while. I consider myself a strong downhill runner, and I really hit this section hard. It was downhill most of the way to mile 25, so I was able to pick back up on some of the time I lost on the climbing coming into 25 where I again met my crew. I rolled in there close to 4:30 pm I think. Just looking at the numbers, this was 1.5 hours ahead of 24 hour pace; however, they had taken into account inclines and things at various stretches, so the actual cutoff was at 6:00pm I think. Apparently, I was only 1.5 hours ahead of the actual cutoff. Either way, I was feeling pretty good for the most part. My legs were starting to feel a little tired which concerned me some, but mentally, I was strong and ready to keep going.

25-50 (Reliance to Servilla)

After Reliance, we ran across a bridge that crossed the Hiwassee. I saw Dawson Wheeler in a golf cart who commented on my Hokas. We ran east for a while following the Ocoee. We started off on a trail that was somewhat technical, and it eventually opened up onto the pavement for a long stretch. It was beating me up quite a bit, and I was really glad to come into the next aid station (Powerhouse at mile 32 I believe). The workers made sure we all had our headlamps. I didn’t stop long and headed out for the next stretch. This was the most difficult part of the whole course from what I can remember. There were two very steep technical climbs through this section. I bonked pretty hard for a while on these.

I simply couldn’t keep my heart rate down because of how steep the climbs and switchbacks were. Then, the trail would take a steep descent, but it would be too technical for me to make up any time on it. The only thing I could do was to keep moving forward. As I topped the second climb, some guys were walking back onto the trail from a small trail outcrop that was at an overlook. They told me to make sure to take the time to look at it. I was glad I did. I took a few minutes to sit down and to remember why I do trail running. I’m not sure how high the cliff I had been climbing was, but it had a beautiful overlook of the Hiwassee cutting through the gorge. To the right, the sun was starting to set. I took a picture, but it didn’t capture it (as most pictures usually don’t). I said a prayer of thanks to God for allowing me the ability to do this run and to see the things I saw, and then I began pressing on.

My anti-bonk was short-lived as I began to descend steeply and technically back into the gorge. At the bottom of the gorge, I heard a couple of voices behind me. I was about to cross a stream when I heard one of them curse behind me. I turned around to see someone fall off a large rock into the creek. I started freaking out telling them what I saw. They started freaking out looking for the guy around the rock. We couldn’t find him anywhere. This was my first hallucination of the day. The trail began climbing again for a very long time until it finally opened up to the aid station at Coker Falls.

I looked around for my crew, but the aid station workers said all of the crews were at the top of a hill. I went ahead and filled my bottles to save some time once I saw my crew. The sun had just set (right on 24 hour pace), but I had just enough light to get me to the top of the steep hill on the beginning of gravel road. It was roughly a half mile from the aid station to the top of this hill. I was happy to see my crew, and I let them know how hard that stretch was. They said I actually looked like I was in better spirits than most of the people who came out of that part. I think I stayed there about 8 minutes or so before getting up to head off into the night. Almost all of the night running was on gravel road. I met up with a guy named Benj. I ran with him almost the whole way to Servilla (from 40-50). We talked for a long time. He was a very cool guy. I think he said he was 25 (or about to turn 25… his birthday was on Sunday after the race. Happy birthday Benj). He began pushing on ahead right before we got to Servilla. This is where I picked up my safety runner, Alex.

50-75 (Servilla to Iron Gap)

It was nice having a little bit of company after being out in the woods and not knowing anyone. There wasn’t really a whole lot that happened between Servilla and the first stop at Iron Gap (mile 55 I think). There were some stretches of very steep climbing, from 50-75. I really enjoyed getting to the Pistol Ultra aid station at Bullet Creek. I don’t remember the exact mileage, but it was probably close to 61 or 62. Those guys know how to do an aid station. They had all kinds of crazy food. They had heaters blaring. There were Christmas lights everywhere. It was just awesome. It was a good way to wake up in the middle of the night. Alex’s wife, Cherri, was there to take care of everything we needed. I was wondering where my wife, Melissa was, and Cherri told me the roads had made her sick. I found out the next morning, that she had been very, very sick. I’m glad I didn’t know how sick at the time. It would have been a difficult mental barrier to cross.

After getting out of the aid station, we started a pretty major climb. The Pistol Ultra guys had signs on the side of the road with quotes of encouragement, funny one-liners, and things like that to keep the runners’ minds occupied as we climbed this “Heartbreak Hill” as the signs called it. Those signs helped a lot. Did I mention the Pistol Ultra guys know how to do it? (Their ultra is in January. I did it last year, and it was a lot of fun if you don’t mind running on some pavement). We were going to meet our crew again at the next aid station at mile 68, and Alex was going to jump out to take a break before starting to run with me again after the river crossing. That plan disappeared quickly when the crew wasn’t at the next station. It turned out they couldn’t find the station. Alex, by the grace of God, was able to get in touch with Cherri by phone (This was pretty much the only time he had cell phone service, and she just happened to have service at that exact moment, too). He told her to meet us at the river. This locked him into running more than 50k before he would even have the option of stepping out of his safety runner duties because there was no crew access at Iron Gap (the next aid station).

This was a very long 7 mile stretch. Again, it started on gravel road for a long time. Then, it went to single track for a while. This is where the sun started coming up for me. That was pretty cool. We could see Etowah (at least I think it was Etowah) off to the right side of the mountain as we ran. All the lights were on down there, and the light of the sun was just enough that we could see the structures of the city. It was pretty cool. After the single track, we got back onto a gravel road we had already run earlier. It was the stem of a lollipop section of the course. After finishing this stem, we arrived back at Iron Gap for the second time. I really had fun goofing off with the workers there. I was in very good spirits, and their positive attitudes helped bring me up even further.

75-100 (Iron Gap to Finish)

We started down the 8 mile horse trail to the river. This was mostly descending. There were some ups in it as well, but it kept steadily getting lower and lower. Alex and I got to see the view at the horse hitch on the left side of the trail as we headed south. The air was foggy down low, so it made for a pretty cool view of the mountains to our east. This was at roughly mile 78. We continued to move forward toward the river. This was a very long stretch. Every turn seemed like it should be the turn before we got to the campground, but we just kept going. Eventually, we saw our wives walking up the trail towards us. They were really a sight to see. It was also good to see Melissa feeling good again. Because they missed us at one of the aid stations, they were able to get to the river a little earlier to get some sleep. We slowly made our way to their car, and I laid down in the back for about 15 minutes while they refilled all of my gear. I didn’t go to sleep, but it sure felt good to get off my legs for a while.

I tried to get a little trot going on the way to the river crossing, but my legs barely worked. My parents were there to see me off across the river, too. It was cool to get some extra encouragement. It felt so good to put my legs in that water. It really did ice them, and they felt almost fresh once I hit the other side. I quickly got some grub at the next aid station (Quinn Springs, mile 83), and then I started the 2,200 foot climb over 3.9 miles up Oswald Dome. This climb was on my mind the entire time I had been running. I couldn’t help but ask myself the entire race, “What is it going to feel like to climb that after 83 miles?” Honestly, the climb wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. I’m not saying it was easy, but the thought of doing it on tired legs was much more difficult than the reality of actually doing it. The hardest part of this stretch was that it started to rain on me.

It was probably about 50 degrees if that at the time. I started shivering uncontrollably. Alex was still running with me, and he actually took his shirt off to give it to me. I said no at first, but he said, “It’s already off.” It helped a lot, but I was still cold. Once we got close to the top, I asked him to run ahead and to tell the people at the aid station that I was really cold and had to find a way to warm up. A guy met me before I got to the station, and he led me to a truck. The heat was blazing in the truck, and they had really warm blankets as well. They also gave me a blazing cup of Ramen. It all really hit the spot. The next stretch was about 7 miles, and I honestly think I would have been in big trouble if I wouldn’t have been able to recharge my batteries at that point. I gave myself 8 minutes to get warm, and then I got back out into the cold. Immediately, I felt cold again, but I pushed forward anyway. Alex and I moved pretty quickly for a long time. It was a steady downhill stretch for several miles on more gravel road. The sky started to clear some, and the sun started coming out helping me out significantly.

We got to the final aid station at McCamy Lake (mile 93). My wife was waiting to jump in with me, and Alex got to jump out. That joker ran with me for about 43 miles after doing basically no training. He is sort of a freak of nature. I had heard that this next section of trail was all downhill and was very technical. At first, it was very smooth, and there were little tiny stretches that had some rocks. I thought to myself, “Is this what they were referring to as technical?” It was perfect.

That all changed after a while. We got onto some single track that just kept going up and down, up and down. There were stream crossings and rocks galore. At one point, we climbed up a large hill, and the trail had jagged rocks that made each step a chance of rolling an ankle. On top of that, to the left was a steep cliff. One wrong step, and it could have been a game ender. I intentionally took my good sweet time through this part. I was not risking losing the completion this close to being finished. I had plenty of time in the bank, so I just made it worth it. Finally, I saw a man up ahead standing by a sign, and I knew I was close. Wait! There wasn’t a man by a sign. I looked harder and harder, but he just wasn’t there. This was my second hallucination. Of course, I eventually started hearing voices up ahead, and I knew I was at the end. I came down a hill and banked to the left to cross the line to see my parents and Alex and Cherri there waiting on me. What a course!

Summary:

Going into this race, I had to make sure to prepare myself mentally. I attempted Pinhoti, and things just didn’t click for me there. My stomach went sour early on at Pinhoti, and I battled that up until around mile 70 before I felt it was getting dangerous to continue. I was afraid I would get stuck on that stretch, and a search party would have to come in after me. I figured out what worked for me nutritionally between Pinhoti and Thunder Rock, and I had absolutely zero vomiting issues this go around thanks to Tailwind Nutrition. If you haven’t heard of it, check it out. It is the real deal.

In preparation for the mental barriers of the race, I wanted to know my “why” as to my motivation for finishing the race. Ultimately, I want my story to inspire others, not even necessarily with running. I am a counselor as a profession, and I work with teenagers with addictions. Many of them don’t even entertain the possibility of staying clean, and many of the ones that want to try don’t think it is even possible. They think they are bound by their circumstances, and because all of their families have been stuck in the cycles of addiction, they are destined to continue in the addictive cycles, too.

I want my message to be this: If I, an average guy, can devote myself to finishing 100 miles, you, the reader, can do anything. You simply have to start telling yourself that you can. Then you can start figuring out how to make it possible. I’m not telling you this will be easy, but it will be possible. You can do anything. This is the message I want my clients to receive from my finishing this race. I don’t really want any recognition other than others being inspired to do what they think is impossible.

Figure out what your goals are, and go get them!

Nathan Judd (2014 Thunder Rock 100 Mile Finisher)
RIF #166

RELATED: David Pharr’s Thunder Rock 100 Mile Race Report

Posted in Race Reports, Running, Ultra MarathonComments (0)

Thunder Rock 100 Buckle 2014

Thunder Rock 100 Buckle (2014)

This is the cool buckle the finishers of the Thunder Rock 100 received on May 16-17, 2014 in Ducktown, Tennessee.

Congratulations to RIF #166 Nathan for completing his first 100 Miler! You rock Nathan!

MORE PHOTOS OF MARATHON/ULTRA MEDALS AND BUCKLES

[Medal photo submitted by RIF #166 Nathan Judd – follow him on Twitter @Beukdeup]

Posted in Bling, Buckles, Featured, Medals, Ultra MarathonComments (0)

Travis Redden Trail of Fears 2013 Winner

Travis Redden Wins Trail of Fears (2013 Results)

Travis Redden returned to Jackson, Tennessee on December 21, 2013 with a heart full of desire to win the Trail of Fears. Last year, he had finished second to the ‘Last Man Standing’ Jonathan Harrison.

On Saturday, Redden did just that as he was the ‘Last Man Standing’ after Jackson native Karl Studtmann turned in half-way through the 12th loop and called it a day.

Shortly thereafter tornado sirens sounded and the heavens opened up to one of the nastiest rain and wind storms this side of Noah’s ark.  Runners had waited and anticipated the nasty weather all day but instead were greeted with high temperatures laced with humidity.  The bad weather could not hold off any longer on that 12th loop around 7 pm.

A mad scramble ensued to get all of the race gear off of the hill before it and we were all blown away. We also waited for Redden to finish that 12th loop (which was unnecessary since he had won the 11th loop). Sirens continued to blare, trees buckled and swayed, and everything in sight was soaked as Redden and his good friend Jim Donahue, who had backtracked a bit to find Redden, came off the hill.

Redden was soaked but thrilled to claim the ‘Last Man Standing’ buckle.

2013 Trail of Fears Results

  1. Travis Redden – 51.6 miles (12 loops)
  2. Karl Studtmann – 47.2 miles (11 loops)
  3. Joshua Holmes – 38.7 miles (9 loops)
  4. Rob Philip – 34.4 miles (8 loops)
  5. Nathan Judd – 34.4 miles (8 loops)
  6. Nathan Bass – 30.1 miles (7 loops)
  7. Billy Cannon – 25.8 miles (6 loops)
  8. Marc Gilbert – 25.8 miles (6 loops)
  9. Courtney Munson – 25.8 miles (6 loops) – Last Female
  10. James Donahue – 25.8 miles (6 loops)
  11. Mark Ogletree – 21.5 miles (5 loops)
  12. Brett Beckham – 17.2 miles (4 loops)
  13. Todd Shadburn – 17.2 miles (4 loops)
  14. Beth Hosick – 17.2 miles (4 loops)
  15. Arthur Priddy – 17.2 miles (4 loops)
  16. Bob Beasley – 17.2 miles (4 loops)
  17. Julie Montgomery – 17.2 miles (4 loops)
  18. Clark Bilbrey – 8.6 miles (2 loops)

Congrats to all of these runners, many of which set a new personal long.

Trail of Fears Tidbits:

  • 34:00 – Fastest lap put down by Arthur Priddy
  • 0:06 – Smallest amount of time left on successful lap by Jim Donahue
  • 2 – Laps won by Priddy
  • 7 – Laps won by Karl Studtmann
  • 2 – Laps won by Travis Redden
  • 1 – Laps won by Joshua Holmes
  • Top 3 Laps: Studtmann (11), Holmes (8), Redden (8), Priddy (2), Rob Philip (1), Brett Beckham (1)

Thanks to Shannon Miller and Anthony Ohrey for their help in race directing and taking care of all of the runners.

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Run It Fast – Club Strava Leaderboard (Week Ending Dec 8, 2013)

Run It Fast – Club Strava Leaderboard (Week Ending Dec 8, 2013)

Run It Fast – Club on Strava Club Leaderboard from the week ending December 8, 2013.

Here is a look at how Run It Fast – Club members stacked up against each other on our Strava club page:

Total Distance:
1. Nick Nudell – 58.3
2. Alex Barrientos – 39.2
3. Dennis Arriaga – 34.6

Total Running Time:
1. Nick Nudell – 15hr 28min
2. Alex Barrientos – 6hr 21min

Fastest Pace
1. Dennis Arriaga – 7:57
2. Natalie Torres – 8:08
3. Matt George – 8:37

Longest Run
1. Nick Nudell – 50.4 mi
2. Alex Barrientos – 20.6 mi
3. Nathan Judd – 14.5 mi

Most Elevation Gain:
1. Nick Nudell – 10,413 ft
2. Dennis Arriaga – 757 ft
3. Matt George – 738 ft

If you are a Run It Fast – Club member then join our club on Strava (free) and see where you compare week to week: http://www.strava.com/clubs/run-it-fast-the-club

Join Run It Fast – The Club HERE

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Run It Fast – Club Strava Leaderboard (Week Ending Dec 1, 2013)

Run It Fast – Club Strava Leaderboard (Week Ending Dec 1, 2013)

Run It Fast – Club on Strava Club Leaderboard from the week ending December 1, 2013.

Here is a look at how Run It Fast – Club members stacked up against each other on our Strava club page:

Total Distance:
1. Joshua Holmes – 107.5
2. John Leighton – 79.0
3. Nathan Judd – 43.3

Total Running Time:
1. Joshua Holmes – 16hr 42min
2. John Leighton – 14hr 13min
3. Nathan Judd – 9hr 39min

Fastest Pace
1. Natalie Torres – 8:12
2. Dennis Arriaga – 8:19
3. Alex Barrientos – 8:45

Longest Run
1. Joshua Holmes – 49.5 mi
2. John Leighton – 49.5 mi
3. Jenny Wood – 26.2 mi

Most Elevation Gain:
1. Nathan Judd – 5,726 ft
2. Joshua Holmes – 2,364 ft
3. John Leighton – 1,637 ft

If you are a Run It Fast – Club member then join our club on Strava (free) and see where you compare week to week: http://www.strava.com/clubs/run-it-fast-the-club

Join Run It Fast – The Club HERE

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2013 Jackass Shirt Front Art

Jackson Jackass 50K Results (2013)

Below are the results for the 2013 Jackson Jackass 50K that took place on February 9, 2013 at Kam-Dam Falls in Jackson, Tennessee.

Jackass 2 Results

  1. Arthur Priddy (Jackson, TN) – 4:39:14 (1st Male)
  2. Brad Box (Jackson, TN) – 4:48:22 (2nd Male)
  3. Ashley Hook (Memphis, TN) – 5:10:10 (3rd Male)
  4. Billy Cannon (Milan, TN) – 5:11:30
  5. Anthony Ohrey (Henderson, TN) – 5:11:31
  6. Jonathan Harrison (Henderson, TN) – 5:17:40
  7. Joshua Holmes (Los Angeles, CA) –  5:22:20
  8. Rob Philip (Saltillo, MS) – 5:31:31
  9. Kenneth Mescall (Jackson, TN) – 5:40:11
  10. Steven Reagan (Brownsville, TN) – 5:44:00
  11. Nathan Judd (Finger, TN) – 5:51:30
  12. Emily Conley (Lakeland, TN) – 5:53:03 (1st Female)
  13. Wade Anderson (Readyville, TN) – 5:53:05
  14. Nathan Bass (Madison, MS) – 5:54:54
  15. Wayne McComb (Columbus, GA) – 5:55:30
  16. Robin Robbins (Milan, TN) – 5:58:16
  17. Julie Montgomery (Jackson, TN) – 6:08:49 (2nd Female)
  18. Jeff Fugate (Jackson, TN) – 6:21:27
  19. Jonathan Bobbitt (Jackson, TN) – 6:22:57
  20. Terry Bishop (Jackson, TN) – 6:23:20
  21. Mark Watson (Medina, TN) – 6:29:12
  22. Leah Harrison (Henderson, TN) – 6:29:54 (3rd Female)
  23. Jennifer Whitley (Murfreesboro, TN) – 6:35:24
  24. Gene Pierce (Amory, MS) – 6:35:58
  25. Melanie Kayal (Jackson, TN) – 6:37:14
  26. Kevin Brandon (Dickson, TN) – 6:55:47
  27. David Oglesby (Jackson, TN) – 7:26:46
  • Chris Estes (Murfreesboro, TN) – DNF
  • Kevin Leathers (Germantown, TN) – DNF
  • Kam Otey (Amory, MS) – DNF
  • Daniel Escue (Dickson, TN) – DNF

Big thanks to Clark Bilbrey for doing all of the timekeeping and scoring as well as to Richard Sparks (Sparks Timing Services) for the use of his race clock.

Posted in Results, THE CLUB, Ultra MarathonComments (0)

Jonathan Harrison Last Man Standing on the Trail of Fears Elimination Board

Last Man Standing: Trail of Fears Race Report (2012)


Last Man Standing

This story actually begins a few weeks before the race.  When the race details for the Trail of Fears were announced on the Run It Fast Facebook page I got really excited…buuut then I saw the date.  NOOO!!!  My wife, Leah Harrison (RIF #64), and I planned to be in the Smoky Mountains to celebrate our 10 year anniversary that weekend, sooo I tried to not pay attention to the details and conversations about the race as they unfolded.  I really did try.  A week later I was texting with RD Joshua Holmes (RIF #1) about why I couldn’t make the race and I jokingly said, “I wonder if Leah would stay with me another 10 years if I cut our trip short?”  We had a good laugh about it and Josh later said, “If you had been able to run this one you would’ve been 1 of only 3 or 4 people to run all the RIF races this year (Jackass 50k, Jackal Trail Marathon, Black Diamond 40 Miler, Trail of Fears).  Talk about a dagger to the heart.

The next morning while getting ready for work I was recounting the conversation to Leah (not trying to change her mind about anything btw) and when I mentioned the part about being 1 of only 3 or 4 people to run all of the RIF races her face changed and said, “Maybe you can call the hotel and move the reservations up.  You have to run this race!”  BEST.  WIFE.  EVER.  It’s great being married to an ultrarunner who understands.

Obviously everything worked out, so fast forward to the race.  Having trained and run races on the Trail of Fears course was a definite advantage going in.  My strategy from the beginning was to complete each loop with 5-10 min. left before the start of the next loop.  I think the fastest I ever ran the loop was 39 min. in a training run, but I wanted to conserve my energy and not leave too much time between loops to get stiff.  I knew this would be important in the later stages of the race.  Another important component of this race was my crew chief/training partner, Nathan Judd (RIF #166).  Nathan drove me to the race, crewed for me every stop and was there to celebrate with me at the end.  We had discussed my fueling plan, strategy, etc.  He helped me stay the course and definitely played a big role in this victory.  Thanks bro!

The first loop was about finding a rhythm for my strategy.  It helped that on that first loop I fell in step with Kevin Leathers (RIF #12), an experienced, knowledgeable ultrarunner, who I had ran several loops with on the course back in February in the Jackass 50k.  Kevin and I had similar strategies and since we enjoy one other’s company we stuck together and went to work.  We found a good rhythm early on and after a few loops we started making mental time checkpoints along the trail.  It was like clockwork.  Leah showed up with our 2 boys after the 3rd loop with definitely lifted my spirits.

I felt a very minor pain on the outside of my left knee for the first 4 loops.  I wasn’t worried about it but I didn’t want it to come back and bite me in the later stages of the race so I changed out of my Brooks Cascadia 7s into my Saucony Peregrines (the original) thinking that landing differently would make it stop.  After Nathan gave my knee a quick massage (we’re very comfortable in our masculinity) while I ate some warm homemade chicken noodle soup (refer to above comment about BEST. WIFE. EVER.) I took off again and immediately the pain started to disappear.  I wore my Peregrines for 2 loops and then switched back into my Cascadias for the extra cushioning.  It had worked.

After 10 strong, consistent loops my running partner for the day, Kevin, came over to say he was done.  He had met his goal.  He could’ve kept going but for him this race was a fun training day.  Stud.  He told me to stay steady and keep doing what I was doing.  I gave him a quick hug and then got ready for the next loop.  I later heard that he told someone I was the one to watch out for.  Thanks man!

Even though the time to complete each loop had been reduced to 55 min. or less by this point I didn’t change my strategy.  My plan was to keep coming in after 52 or 53 min. like I had been all day because I didn’t see the reasoning in speeding up until I had to.  It was making Nathan nervous though.  He told me I should probably speed up a little bit to be safe, but I told him I was feeling good and was confident I could keep coming in at the same time.  Seven of us started the 11th loop and I just kept following my plan.  On this loop I had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend from Freed-Hardeman University, CrossFit phenom Brett Beckham (RIF #85).  We ran together for about 10 min. and had a good conversation.  What a performance outta that guy.  47.3 miles when he hadn’t run more than a half marathon in over 2 years.  Incredible!

When I completed the 12th loop I had met my second to biggest goal of the day, passing the 50 mile mark.  My personal long before this race was 40.5 miles (Black Diamond 40 Miler) back on November 23rd just one month earlier, so it felt great to reach the 50 milestone.

Now to be completely honest I really hadn’t thought much about winning during the race.  I wasn’t even really paying attention to who was left.  However, the beginning of loop 13 was different.  Immediately after the 13th loop started, Jeff Fugate (RIF #17), who had passed his goal of 50 miles, took a few steps and said, “Good luck man.  I’m done.”  Now it was down to 3.  “Wow!” I thought to myself.  “I might actually win this thing.”  I still felt pretty strong.  I took note of who was left, Travis Redden and Rob Philip (RIF #212).  Both guys had run strong all day and were experienced ultrarunners.  If I’m not mistaken, I believe both had finished ahead of me every single previous loop at that point.  Nathan told me they had consistently come in near the front of the pack all day, finishing between 44 and 48 min., so I knew I had to stay focused.  Rob admitted to me that he was tired so I thought it was probably his last loop, but he still finished the loop a little ahead of me.  What a warrior!  Travis, on the other hand, was out of view ½ mile into the loop and continued pulling away the entire loop.  Nevertheless, I pushed that out of my mind and kept doing what I had been doing the all day.

The 3 of us started the 14th loop, with 52 minutes on the clock so it was finally time to speed up.  I was a little tired and a little sore (obviously) but I didn’t doubt for a second that I could make it.  I passed Rob a little over a mile and a half in and keep moving.  I think I finished with a minute something left, but Rob didn’t make it back in time.  The Trail of Fears had claimed another victim, but not without a fight.  Travis had finished several minutes ahead of me, which surprised me a little since we were that deep into the race.  So now it was down to me and Travis, Method vs. Madness, as it had been coined.  51 minutes on the clock.  Before taking off Nathan and Leah asked me what my plan was so they would know what to expect and not get too nervous.  I told them, “I’m gonna be honest.  I’m only going to speed up just a little.  Expect me to come in with 30 to 60 seconds left on the clock.”  Nathan nervously said, “Ok man.  You know what you’re doing.”  Travis took off and left me again but I tried not to think about it.  Anytime the trail folded back on itself I noticed his headlamp swiveling towards me to see where I was.  I just kept running.  Once again I hit my checkpoints like clockwork.  I completed loop 15 with 40 seconds left…just like I had planned.  Nathan was just laughing.  Travis had finished with 3:46 left I believe.  BEAST!

Loop 16: Josh rolled the clock back to 50 min., I was back at the starting line, still confident, and then I heard Travis tell Josh he was finished.  He had some old injuries starting to flare up and he was afraid if he ran another loop he would tear something.  Per the rules, since Travis finished loop 15 ahead of me I had to complete this loop alone for the win.  I had a rush of adrenaline that started the second I heard Travis say he was done.  “This is it!” I thought, “Either way this is the last time I have to run this loop.” So when Josh said “Go!” I took off faster than any previously loop.  I heard Nathan and Leah yelling, cheering me on as I left.  I honestly at that point wasn’t sure which loop it was and I didn’t know how many miles I was at.  I knew I was at 60-something but I forced that out of my mind and kept moving.  I ran moderate inclines and hills that I had walked all day.  I had been praying on and off for the past 6 or 7 loops, but I prayed almost constantly the entire last loop.  I was asking God to guide my steps and to keep me safe and strong.  I wasn’t pushing as hard as I could, but I was pushing enough to finish with some cushion this time.  Near the end I started calculating the loops and miles and realized that I was about to finish my 16th loop, 68.8 miles!  I finally saw Nathan standing on the path that was about 2 min. from the finish and I knew I had it.  I crossed the finish line with 1:05 making it my fastest loop of the day!  I couldn’t believe it!  It was finally over.  Nearly 11:00 p.m., 16 hours after the race started, I was the last man standing on the Trail of Fears.

With God’s help and an amazing crew I was able to accomplish my ultimate goal: Winning the Trail of Fears.  And to think I had only run my first marathon just over a year ago.  What made it even more special was that it was a race filled with so many great running friends I had made this year, fellow RIFers, just having fun in the coolest RIF race of the year.  The cherry on top was that Leah and Nathan were there to celebrate with me.

Jonathan Harrison RIF #65 (December 22, 2012)

Jonathan Harrison Wins Inaugural Trail of Fears Elimination Race (Results)

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Lookout Mountain 50 Miler Finishers – Joshua Holmes, Nathan Judd, David Pharr, Jonathan Harrison-Pacer – Old Finish

Lookout Mountain 50 Miler Race Report (2012) – Nathan Judd

Lookout Mountain 50 Miler begins at Covenant College on the top of Lookout Mountain. I began the race with two Run It Fasters, David Pharr and Joshua Holmes. David and I have been friends for a long time and have done several races together here recently. He is definitely becoming a very strong ultra runner. I also had a great crew seeing me off, including my lovely wife Melissa (who was holding our precious baby daughter Brooklyn, Jonathan Harrison (who helped me out A TON) throughout the day, and Leah Harrison (Jonathan’s wife).

We ran through the parking lot of the college and then went into the woods on the west side of the mountain. We ran along a single track with some nice bluffs that could end one’s life directly to our left. We could see a beautiful view of a valley for about thirty minutes on our left. What a great way to start the day!  We continued to run north and then came to the stairs marking Point Park which was directly above us. The trail then turned around to the north side of the mountain, and we could see Chattanooga on our left. This was a very fast section of trail. I knew ahead of time that I had to be careful here. I love going fast on the downhill, but I didn’t want to expend myself 6 miles into the race.

After this section, we came to a gravel road that went back in roughly the same direction we had just come, only it was going downhill. We weren’t on this road long before getting to Craven’s House, the first aid station at mile 8. David had pulled a little ahead of me before getting to the station. I could tell he was on a mission, and I did the smart thing and just let him go. Jonathan refilled my gels, Enduralytes, and got me some food as well as a change of shirt (into my sweet Run It Fast shirt).

I looked up to start running with David again, but he was gone. I didn’t see him again the rest of the day. We continued downhill. There really wasn’t a lot going on for this section of the trail. I just made my way down to the Nature Center area. I knew there was another aid station there at about 14 miles, but I also knew I wouldn’t see anyone I knew at that station. I ended up getting to the bottom of the mountain and running along a creek to my right. This was a very moderate section of trail and very flat. I then came to the station, refilled, and started the next section.

I knew I had a monster climb ahead of me from looking at the course profile. Sure enough, the trail started going up, up, up. Before I knew it, I was about halfway up the mountain. I actually said to somebody, “This isn’t quite as bad as I thought it was going to be.” I passed several people during this stretch. My spirits really started to lift as I realized how well I was doing with what was described as the hardest section of the course. Then the trail started to go down. And it kept going down. The pump fake! I ended up at the bottom of the mountain again! The only time you don’t want to go downhill is when you know you have to go back up. This was definitely that case. When I started the real ascent, it was definitely a difficult stretch. It was near the top of this section that I started to get nauseous for the first time. I took a ginger capsule, some more gel, and some enduralytes. Somehow I was able to hold it all down.

I heard several people say they had the same thoughts I had at the top of that hill. “If my legs are already this tired, how am I going to make it thirty more miles?” It was definitely a mental/physical game at that point, especially considering the start/finish was right after that climb as the 22.5 mile aid station. My crew met me there again. They had a lawn chair for me, and I sat down for a minute. Jonathan refilled everything, and Leah got me some food from the table. I just took a minute to recuperate. Melissa gave me a kiss, which was definitely a boost to the spirits. I changed socks and mentally prepared for the next stretch.

A Rock/Creek guy told me that, if I made it through the first part, I could definitely make it the rest of the way. He said there were a lot of ATV trails, so it wasn’t nearly as difficult.  Let me say this, while the trails weren’t as technical and weren’t quite as hilly as the first section, they were VERY hilly. It was not easy.  Still, I got out of the chair and started the remaining 27.5 miles.

This section started on the ATV trails and then switched to another single track after winding through the campus woods a little bit. This single track was really narrow and had some uneven footing making it difficult to move quickly. However, I had received a second wind and even called a couple of buddies (Alex Walker and Mitch Zlatovich) to tell them I was confident I was going to finish. Mitch didn’t answer, and he later told me (after calling me back later) that he thought I had called him to tell him I had dropped.

I came out of the woods to a section of power lines that went to my left. I ran with the lines for a while and made a mental note that they would be a marker on the way back. (Boy were they a marker). I went into the woods again on the other side of the lines, and I began a pretty long downhill towards the Lula Land Trust property. There wasn’t a whole lot going on in this stretch either, except that there was one creek crossing. The good thing was that this trail was definitely a moderate trail making it easy on the feet.

I crossed a road and then began a downhill with a large bluff just to my right. The trail went down to some picnic tables, and we crossed a bridge over Rock Creek. We headed through the woods, went up and down some decent climbs, and then the next aid station appeared after I heard some water. It felt like a really long way to this station from the previous one. It turned out this station was at mile 30, right beside Lula Falls. Also of note, it was shortly before the aid station that the race leader passed me heading back to the S/F.)

I texted Jonathan to tell him I was lost… Then I texted him to tell him I was actually at mile 30. I continued down a gravel road for a short bit, saw the monster falls to my left, and then looked up to see… a rope!? Who puts a trail so tough you have to use a rope at mile 30? And what’s worse, I had to climb down the stupid thing right before mile 42.5.  What could I do, though? I climbed.

At the top, the trail became very wide and comfortable, and I was greeted with probably the best view to my left from the whole day. I took a picture, but, as in most cases, the picture doesn’t compare to what it actually looked like. There is something about covering a lot of ground and gaining a lot of elevation to be rewarded with a secluded gift from God. I became a little emotional (as most people do when they are completely drained in a race). The road kept going up a long, slight upgrade slope, which I welcomed. It was not steep, but it was steep enough that I got to walk for a while. 2nd and 3rd place started to come by me at that point. They were at least 3-4 miles behind the leader. That guy was flying.

I began a downhill stretch and was greeted with a nice view of a river below again. The footing was pretty uneven, although comfortable due to the soft dirt. I was forced to walk by the river for a bit because of the footing. I eventually came out of the woods and took a right to run along a road up to the next aid station which was marked mile 34.

I was feeling a little bit queasy, but I knew I needed to try to eat something. My crew had me some soup, and I drank some of the broth. Surprisingly, it tasted great. I changed my shoes because I knew I was going to cross a creek in the next section. I would shortly be back at this same point (miles 34-38 were a loop). I wanted to make sure to have dry trail shoes if I could keep it that way. Because the soup went down so well, I figured I would use the opportunity to try to get some food on my stomach.

I grabbed some oranges and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Jonathan jumped in with me and ran with me for the rest of the race. We waved bye to our crew before heading into the woods. Right before going into the woods, while looking back at the crew, I became very nauseous and started to dry heave, forcing the unswallowed sandwich out of my mouth onto the ground. Jonathan looked at me concerned. I said, “Don’t worry, it was just the peanut butter and jelly.” I immediately turned and hurled. Without missing a beat, I said, “Don’t worry, it was just the peanut butter and jelly. I feel great!” Then we headed into the woods.

After puking, I got a major second wind. I honestly think I maintained about a 12 minute mile average through the next section, which, at that point in the race and with some of the climbs in that section, was definitely moving. I passed five people through that section. Jonathan told me my spirits were definitely better than most of the people he had seen at that point.

We came out of the woods to the 38 mile station again. I changed back into my trail shoes, grabbed my headlamp, made sure I had everything I needed, and started the 12 (I heard it was actually 11.5 miles) back to the start finish. I was definitely glad to have company at that point because 12 miles after 38 miles is still a really long way.

I won’t rehash the views explained earlier because they’re just in reverse, but it definitely lifted my spirits to have someone to talk to for the rest of the race. I thought I was going to be completely coming apart at that point, but honestly, I still felt pretty good. I was definitely moving pretty slowly, but I had no doubt I would make it to the end.

When we got to the 42.5 mile station at the falls, I sat down by the fire for a few minutes, drank some Mountain Dew, ate some candy, and gave myself a short mental break. Then we headed back into the woods which was definitely not very runnable. After being in the woods for just a short time, we were forced to turn on the headlamps. I was able to keep my bearings for the most part somehow, but it’s hard to describe much that goes on when it is dark all around.

We passed the creek again and did a large climb away from the water. I was definitely getting tired, but Jonathan kept telling me how well I was hiking the uphills. We pressed through this connector trail, and I waited to find the power lines again.  Finally, I saw the lights of the power lines ahead of me. I knew they were close… They were not. I probably saw those stupid lights for about an hour.  What is worse, it was an uphill climb almost the whole way. That was the most mentally taxing part of the day. I kept saying, “We have go to get out of here.” Jonathan kept telling me to hang in there. That would last about five minutes, and those stupid lights never got any closer. Repeat cycle. He gave me just the right amount of encouragement without overdoing it because, honestly, at that point, I was really just ready to be done. I had gotten some feedback from people estimating distance and time, too. They told me that, if I averaged a 15 minute mile to the end, I would probably still make it in under 12 hours. Finally, I made it out of the woods and followed the power lines for a bit and then went back into the woods on the other side. I really tried to push myself to go for the 12 hour mark. We hit the last ATV trail, and I started moving. I don’t know how fast I was going, but Jonathan said the last half mile actually made him tired. My watch turned over the 12 hour mark, so I backed off a bit on the pace. I could see some Christmas lights ahead, which outlined the chute to the finish. They started announcing my name, and I saw my crew and family cheering me on. When I crossed the line, I spiked my water bottles and yelled. I was completely exhausted but completely pumped at the same time.

I did miss the 12 hour mark by 2 minutes. (Note here. That was just a hopeful goal. My goal was to finish and enjoy the race. I met both goals, and I took pictures throughout the way, took nice breaks at aid stations, and did exactly what I needed to do. Even though I didn’t get under 12 hours, I am not disappointed at all. I did it exactly how I wanted to do it, and I would not change a thing about my race strategy).

A big thanks goes out to everyone who helped and supported me throughout the day. Melissa was a major trouper, taking care of Brooklyn for 12 hours and then doing so much to take care of her over the weekend while I was too tired to do a whole lot. Jonathan was a major support throughout the entire race (crewing me for 34 miles and then running with me and crewing at the same time for 16 miles). Leah also helped crew, was a great support, and came a long way to watch me run. Thank goodness she wasn’t hungry. My parents also fought the cold to get out there to watch me at the finish.  I also want to thank David Pharr and Joshua Holmes for hanging out at the finish to see me at the end. They both killed it and finished in close to 10.5 hours. All in all, it was an awesome experience. I enjoyed every bit of 10 hours of this race.  10 out of 12 isn’t bad. Haha. Run It Fast!

Nathan Judd (RIF #166)

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LM50_RIF

Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Medal (2012)

This is the medal for the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Trail Race that was held on December 15, 2012 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Congratulations to RIF #166 Nathan Judd, RIF #185 David Pharr, and RIF #83 Brad Box who all did their first 50 Miler there! Here’s a photo of Nathan and David before the race with RIF #1 Joshua Holmes (who shaved 2.5 hours off his previous time there) and RIF #65 Jonathan Harrison (who crewed).

RIF Club Members rocked it! Congratulations everyone!

MORE PHOTOS OF MARATHON/ULTRA MEDALS AND BUCKLES

[Medal photo submitted by RIF #166 Nathan Judd – follow him on Twitter @Beukdeup]

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St Jude Memphis Half Marathon Medal – 2012 – Judd – Run It Fast

St. Jude Memphis Marathon & Half Marathon Medals (2012)

Here is the finisher’s medal from the St. Jude Memphis Marathon that took place on December 1, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee.

The St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon finisher’s medal is pictures below (click to enlarge).

MORE PHOTOS OF MARATHON/ULTRA MEDALS AND BUCKLES

[Medal photo submitted by RIF #191 Kristy who finished her first marathon at St. Jude. Congrats!!  Follow her on Twitter @KRISTY_RUNS The Half Marathon medal is submitted by RIF #166 Nathan Judd. Follow him on Twitter @Beukdeup]

Posted in Bling, Featured, Half Marathon, Marathon, MedalsComments (0)


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