Tag Archive | "Savage Gulf Trail Marathon"

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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Joshua Holmes – Denmark Dash 5K – Feb 2012 – Run It Fast

42 Mini Race Reports: Joshua Holmes’ 2012 in Review

42 Mini Race Reports: Joshua Holmes’ 2012 in Review

Here is a quick look at the 42 races I ran in 2012. That total is comprised of 32 ultras and marathons that averaged 50.50 miles and ten shorter races consisting of 10k’s, 5k’s, etc.

2012 Marathons and Ultras for Joshua Holmes

  1. Walt Disney World Marathon (26.2) – 3:32:23 – One of my faster marathons. Great training with James Krenis leading up to this race to help him to reach his goal of running a sub-4 hour marathon. If you had to train for one marathon and really wanted a big, grand experience with a lots of sights and people then the WDW Marathon should be on your list.  – January 8, 2012
  2. Maui Oceanfront Marathon (26.2) – 3:37:58 – I broke a couple of ribs surfing two days prior to this race. I could only take half breaths and rib cage/chest/arm became extremely painful the last 15 miles. Couldn’t lift arm afterwards without extreme pain in ribs. Always fun catching up with the speedy RIF #70 Chuck ‘Marathonjunkie’ Engle. Maui Oceanfront is a beautiful marathon with amazing views the last 18 miles along the coastline. – January 22, 2012
  3. Jackson Jackass 50K (31.0) – 6:29:29 – A race I decided to put together to help a friend run his first 50K. I was nursing a broken rib so I was cautious throughout the race, yet still slipped and fell 10x on this very muddy and messy course from heavy rains the night before. A very challenging yet fun day. – February 4, 2012
  4. Carl Touchstone Memorial 50 Miler (50.0) – 10:22:07 – This was a very muddy and wet course. Over 80 water crossings, most thigh high and extended for 20-30 feet at a time. A tough day with the conditions but solid performance considering the conditions. The joy from this one was helping RIF #3 Jonathan Bobbitt train for this race and successfully complete it.  I also enjoyed running part of the race with RIF #12 Kevin Leathers and RIF #24 Emily Conley.  – March 3, 2012
  5. Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon (26.2) – 3:59:41 – Drove down to NOLA immediately after finishing the MS 50 Miler the night before. Big thanks to RIF #38 JD Favara for picking up my bib for this one.  I was horrible, sluggish and not very good for the first 18 miles. I was on a 4:15 pace to finish yet came alive the last 8 miles to slide under 4 hours. I enjoyed catching up with several RIF members from Jackson after the race including RIF #35 Todd Shadburn. – March 4, 2012
  6. Land Between the Lakes 50 Miler (50.0) – 9:25:33 – A new 50mi PR after setting one the prior weekend down in Mississippi. I felt pretty good for most of this race. It was cold at the start yet bearable. I pushed hard at the end to go sub 9:30. It turned out to be a comfortable and beautiful day to run. It was good seeing my good friend RIF #2 Naresh Kumar before, during this race, and at our post-race meal at the po’chop place.  – March 10, 2012
  7. Savage Gulf Trail Marathon (26.2) – 7:25:52 – An inaugural event that no one knew anything about. The most difficult and most beautiful marathon I’ve run to date. Lots of the course was un-runnable due to intense roots and boulders. A must do for the serious marathoner than is not afraid of a challenge. You will only PR at SG if it’s your first marathon ever. Met RIF #18 Rick Jarvis during the early miles of this one.  – March 17, 2012
  8. Umstead 100 Miler (100.0) – 23:36:11 – This was another 100 PR for me, and I had the chance to share the course with good friends RIF #57 Trent Rosenbloom, Beth McCurdy, RIF #88 Hideki Kinoshita, RIF #92 Steven Lee, etc. I was strong for the first 50 then my legs started to fall apart a bit. I walked most of the last loop and was happy to finally have a sub-24 hour 100 mile finish. It concluded a crazy March of racing. – March 31, 2012
  9. St. Jude Country Music Marathon (26.2) – 3:34:17 – I have historically ran very poorly at this event in the past. It was my only race scheduled for April and maybe that helped me some this time. I was coming off some minor injuries from Umstead but felt semi-healthy. This is the first race I ran in Hokas. A lot of people faded during this one due to the heat, but I stayed pretty strong throughout. Ran into RIF #63 John Hudson and RIF #35 Todd Shadburn shortly after finishing. RIF also had a large number of members show up for the pre-race photo. – April 29, 2012
  10. 34th Annual Strolling Jim 40 Miler (41.2) – 7:34:43 – Another event I haven’t performed extremely well to date at. I was off to a good day as it was overcast and cool the first 15 miles to start this one. Then at my mile 15 drop bag I downed 3 Boosts and a couple of other things. At about that time the sun came out to play and my stomach was never the same. I spit up various things for most of the last 25 miles but pushed hard, especially the last 10 miles, to have a relatively strong finish. Always a great party after the race and I enjoyed spending time with several RIF members and friends. – May 5, 2012
  11. Scenic City Trail Marathon (26.2) – 3:57:31 – I ran this race in 4:27:34 the previous year. So I went in wanting to go sub 4-hours as my goal. I pushed the pace early on the first loop and was able to keep it close to the first loop pace on the second loop. I was strong until the last 2 or 3 miles but being so close to sub-4 helped me push to finish under my goal. A great race put on by the Rock/Creek people. – May 19, 2012
  12. Run Under the Stars RUTS (10 Hours) – 55 miles – My most miles put down at RUTS in my three years running this race. This is a great event and one of my favorites. It’s like a party within a race or a race within a party. About 20 Run It Fast – Club members ran this one and helped make it a blast. Enjoyed watching good friend RIF #151 Chris Estes put down 63 miles. – June 9, 2012
  13. The Jackal Trail Marathon (26.2) – 4:32:32 – Another event that I put together that went off really well. It was a very hot mid-June day in West Tennessee that upped the degree of difficulty a bit. I felt good throughout, finishing third overall, and used it as heat training in case I decided to run The Last Annual Vol State 500K in July. – June 23, 2012
  14. The Backass Jackal Trail Marathon (26.2) – 4:52:51 – I ran the previous day like it wasn’t the first of back to backs. I ran about 2 miles before the race as I was trying to set up water coolers and find Sulaiman before the start. My legs were tired from the prior day, but I was competitive as RIF #151 Chris Estes and I battled throughout the day for the win which he ended up with. Five of us finished this one after doing The Jackal Trail Marathon the day before.  – June 24, 2012
  15. The Last Annual Vol State 500K (314.0) – 5:17:04:04 – An epic race that I did for the first time last year. I wanted to just finish the race in 2011, but this year I wanted to be competitive and see how well I could perform over this grueling slugfest that covers 314 miles on hot asphalt in Tennessee and touches several other states.  The weather was a chill 85 degrees the first day, and I decided to take advantage of it and see how many miles I could put down before finding rest. I recorded 93 miles in 23-hours before heading to the hotel where naturally I couldn’t really sleep.  During the next day I covered 49 very slow miles. To make a long story short I was in fourth place after four days and ended up with a mad fury of miles on the last day and sped up Sand Mountain to finish second place overall with a time of 5 days and 17 hours.  Special thanks to RIF #13 Mikki Trujillo, RIF #2 Naresh Kumar, RIF #183 Kirk Catron, and RIF #143 Scott Flowers for helping crew me for all or parts of this epic race.  – My Full Vol State 500K Race Report – July 12, 2012
  16. Blister in the Sun Marathon (26.2) – 3:58:16 – A challenging race in Cookeville, TN that good friend Josh Hite has put on the last three years. It’s a 5-loop course on what is usually a very hot day. I was still recovering from Vol State but didn’t want to miss this one since I’d get to see many of my best marathon running friends.  I ran a bit better than I thought I would considering my Vol State rust. I originally thought I’d take it easy and run something over 4 hours. I got in a groove though among RIF #79 Dallas Smith,  RIF #196 Bill Baker, and RIF #186 Danny Staggs and pushed probably harder than I needed to but was honored to finish just a few seconds behind the great Dallas. – August 5, 2012
  17. Pikes Peak Marathon (26.2) – 7:59:23 – For a West Tennessee boy from the flathills this turned out to be quite the challenge. I’m sure I was a bit dead-legged coming in but this turned out to be a really tough, dizzy, and staggering day for Cosmo.  The run starts at around 6,500 feet and goes up to 14,115 feet at the halfway point before gravity pulls you back down to the starting line to finish. I did pretty well the first 10 miles going up but then the altitude gave me a headache, made me a bit dizzy, and I started staggering like a drunk. If you trip to the left going up then you fall several thousand feet to your death. I took it easy as I didn’t feel right the miles leading up to the summit and for several miles on the way back down. I ran pretty well the last 4-5 miles. It was a beautiful climb and view from the top of Pikes Peak, but from a running perspective I did nothing that day that should be put into a time capsule. I did enjoy spending time with RIF #83 Brad Box who had a good race.  – August 19, 2012
  18. Lean Horse 100 Miler (100.0) – 22:41:28 – Leanhorse happened to be just a week after Pikes Peak, but I felt pretty good going into it. This was my second time running this race so that was worth something. This race takes place in beautiful South Dakota.  I stayed at a hotel close to the convention center where the buses would depart from for the starting line at 5:30am. I mistimed walking over that morning and missed the buses. Luckily, I was able to hitch a ride with an older couple at the hotel next door that was going to the starting line 15 miles away to see their daughter start this one.  Leanhorse has the best running surface I’ve run on at any race. It’s a very finely crushed limestone/dirt mixture that is smooth and easy on the legs.  Being late to the starting line, I forgot to take a pre-race Roctane and a couple of other things. Luckily over the course of a 100 miles you have time to remember that and catch up without falling too far behind.  I ran well at Lean Horse for a majority of the race. My bottle went dry a couple of times during the hottest part of the day and my stomach got a bit upset, but a sweet woman from Canada and Lanier Greenhaw gave me some ginger during the race and it settled it down. My goal was to improve upon my 26:30 time from the year before and go sub-24 hours.  I tired over the last 20 miles but kept pushing and was able to finish LH with another new 100 mile PR of 22:42:28.  A great 100 I’d recommend to anyone looking for a new one or for a place to run his or her first 100.  – August 25, 2012
  19. Tupelo Marathon (26.2) – 4:05:33 – Tupelo was the week after Lean Horse, but I had signed up for it months before and wanted to run it again and see many of my running friends.  Tupelo is a rolling course with some minor hills that starts at 5am in the morning, in the dark, before it gets too hot and humid. However, the heat never really came this year but it was extremely humid from the opening bell.  I felt like I struggled and had a mediocre first half but after a quick pit stop and reversing direction for the second half I ran well and passed many people.  I realized I was pushing too hard to go sub-4 during the last 5 miles or so. I finally realized I would likely miss sub-4 by a minute or two so I pulled back a bit and played it safe to finish.  I was still really drained and tired but enjoyed the food and fellowship after the race as a few others and myself waited at the finish line for everyone to finish. – September 2, 2012
  20. Endure the Bear 50K (31.0) – 6:29:46 – This was a first year race that took place in Big Bear Lake, California, which is high up in the mountains in a very beautiful Gatlinburg-esque town.  I had no clue what to expect going in to this one. What’s new, right?  RIF #5 Lisa Gonzales met me at the start with some Roctane (since I was out), and we caught up for a bit before this one started. It was a straight up-hill climb for the first 5 miles or so then it had big hills up and down throughout the day. One of the more challenging 50K’s I’ve run. I was very tired at the end but pleased with my effort overall. – September 9, 2012
  21. Big Sur Trail Marathon (26.2) – 4:07:02 – I gave RIF #5 Lisa Gonzales a ride up to this race since it would be way too risky and dangerous riding with her.  Big Sur was a beautiful marathon that took you up towards the heavens for the first 3 miles before dumping you amongst the big trees with sneak peaks of the blue Pacific Ocean from time to time.  I ran stronger and faster with nearly every mile and with the intense descent back down to the finish for the last 3 miles I blistered a couple of sub-7 minute miles to finish 10th overall and with a pretty fast time on a challenging trail marathon course. I also tweaked or did something to my left knee during those last couple of miles as well.  – September 29, 2012
  22. Yellowstone-Teton 100 Miler (100.0) – 21:23:55 – This race was a lot of fun and amazing on several levels. It’s only the second race I’ve ever had a crew to help me out with. I was very thankful that RIF #5 Lisa Gonzales made the trip to Idaho/Montana to crew me for this one. She was really a great help outside of finding me a cheeseburger.  I have to admit it was a bit daunting at the start of this one. The race started in West Yellowstone at 6am. It was pitch black and 9 DEGREES. It was briefly overwhelming to be that cold, that dark, that early in the morning knowing I had 100 miles to run.  Three miles in my handheld was frozen solid. I ditched it and would only drink water when I’d see Lisa.  The sun finally did come up and the temperature did a bit as well.  It got up to about 46 during the warmest part of the day before dipping back down to the low teens once the sun hibernated again.  I was having a great day for about the first 30 miles then I tore something in my left knee that progressively got worse for the next 12 miles.  At about mile 42 it was so painful and uncomfortable that it was a struggle to walk much less run. I was about 98% sure I was going to drop when I decided to change shoes and put this compression sleeve around the knee. I then rolled the sleeve up and down until the pressure was so intense that I could barely feel anything.  The knee was still painful but with every step thereafter I was able to block it out more and more.  I then began to run more and walk less and thoughts of dropping started to recede from my mind with each mile I was able to click off.  I think the extreme cold helped once the sun went down. It was distracting and helped take my focus off my knee. I knew I likely could do serious damage to my knee and be out of commission for awhile, but I was on a PR pace and in the Top 10 for most of the day so as a stubborn ultramarathoner I kept ‘falling forward.’  I wasn’t fluid with my running over the last 60-70 miles, but I gave it everything I could.  I was able to finish with a new PR, a top 5 finish, and an age group win.  – October 6, 2012
  23. Javelina Jundred 100K (62.0) – 16:33:34 – This was by far my worst race of the year and perhaps my life.  I signed up for the 100 miler yet had only been hiking since Yellowstone since my knee was still jacked up and on strike. I think my meniscus was torn.  So my first step of JJ was the first I had run in almost a month. I didn’t know how my knee would hold up or respond until landing that first time.  I found out it wasn’t 100%, but it was never a concern for me on this day as too many other things turned out to be more pressing and depressing.  My first loop and a half (roughly 21 miles) I was great and ran extremely well. Then when I hit my second drop bag on the second loop everything went south. Like south of Hades south!  I drank a couple of Boosts, had some food, and switched water bottles since my strap had broken on my main one.  I don’t know if it was the JJ water or food poisoning but over the next few hours I visited the porta-potty about 15x and in a not to be shielded from the intense sun kind of way.  From that mile 22 point for the next 5-6 miles I was in a bad place.  I felt like I was getting stabbed in my stomach to the point I couldn’t even walk. Someone or something was holding me hostage within my stomach and they weren’t exactly abiding by the constitution. All I could do was bend over to my toes and wait for it to subside a bit so I could slowly walk some more.  At one point there was no porta-potty for at least 3 miles and I needed one bad so I wandered off into the desert (no trees) and finally found a small incline that would have to suffice as a prop.  From there, which was pretty low, I didn’t think it could get any worse but it did.  A few minutes later I was on all 4’s between two cacti puking once then twice. Dozens of runners passed, some laughing, as I was just happy to still be alive.  The puking helped a little. I was able to walk slowly after that. All I wanted to do was get to the aid station at 28 for porta again and then walk the 2 miles back to headquarters at 30 and drop. So I’m walking slowly towards 28 when I scoot over slightly for a runner to pass when I suddenly feel this piercing, striking pain in my right thigh. I look down and this cactus ball had jumped off the cactus and stapled itself through my shorts with over 100 of it’s barbed needles.  I had no words. I tried to pull it off and it wouldn’t come off.  I then decided to run with it before deciding better that I needed to get it out or it might cause some sort of infection or be poisonous.  So i finally grabbed the bottom of my shorts and ripped them away from my skin as hard as I could and it violently came off leaving 60-80 needles still lodged in my skin. I stopped to take them out one by one as I was literally shaking my head in disbelief.  Finally, un-barbed, I began my march again.  The Garmin data would later tell me I put down a 48-minute mile during this stretch. My stomach was still a mess, ginger wasn’t helping, and I was trying to get back to mile 30 so I could drop and go back to the hotel.  I finally finished the loop and I was still sick yet for some odd reason, instead of heading to the car, I took that first step onto the third lap (walking) as I did slowly for the next six miles. Finally, I started to feel a bit better and ran pretty well from 36 to about mile 50.  That is when the sun started to set. I also realized that due to my stomach that I had not consumed any calories in hours.  That reason along with the tricky footing in the dark among the rocks made me start to reevaluate my goal.  I didn’t want to injure my knee worse, and I also knew I’d have a hard time catching up on calories.  I then decided to make it back around to the headquarters and take the 100K finish that is offered for finishing 4 loops and count my blessings that I was able to push through for 40 more miles and finish 100k after my intense brush with the dark side earlier during the race.  I felt pleased with my effort and what I had overcome on this day to accomplish a meager 100k. One that will never come close to the personal record books but that will never, ever be forgotten. – October 27, 2012
  24. Catalina Eco Marathon (26.2) – 4:40:32 – This was a very beautiful race on Catalina Island. It’s a small island that takes 1-hour to get to from Los Angeles. If you can survive the ferry ride without losing your breakfast then that’s half the battle.  This was another race where we gained around 1,500 feet the first 4 miles before it leveled for some fun and scenic running. It was extremely windy throughout this one and it felt at times as if it was going to blow some of us off the cliffs.  I ran well until around mile 18 or 19 when I hit the Catalina Crush. I was already starting to be crushed before it, but the CC is a climb that can’t be run by us mortals. It’s extremely steep as you can only stare at the heavens as you walk up it.  I managed over the next 3 miles or so and then ran strong down the semi-technical trail for the last 3 miles back to the finish.  A must-do race if possible or within your budget. I’ll be back to this one at some point for sure.  I enjoyed meeting RIF #69 Nadia Ruiz Gonzales and Aaron Nowlin on the ferry over to Catalina. – November 10, 2012
  25. Malibu International Marathon (26.2) – 4:21:15 – RIF #5 Lisa Gonzales picked me up and hauled my tired legs and body to the start line of this one in Malibu. The first 10-12 miles is inland and boring. My legs were bored and tired as well from the beating they took the day before at Catalina. But around mile 12 we reached the ocean and ran on the Pacific Coast Highway along the ocean all the way back to Zuma Beach in Malibu. It was beautiful, scenic, and I saw a couple of dolphins jumping in and out of the water as I was running. It’s flat with a handful of medium sized hills near the end. – November 11, 2012
  26. Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon (26.2) – 3:49:30 – My favorite road marathon of the year and one of my all-time favorite races. I had to start with the early-starters due to a death in the family.  I missed out on some of the festivities having to do that but still had a lot of fun running this race on what turned out to be a cold November morning.  I was the first across the finish line (of the early starters ;) ) Many more finished ahead of me from the regular field. This race is such a great homecoming of great runners and friends from across the South.. The post-race spread is worth the price of admission itself.  Big thanks to RIF #57 Trent Rosenbloom for all the hard work he puts into making this event great. Thanks to RIF #151 Chris Estes and RIF #5 Lisa Gonzales meeting me before the early start. – November 18, 2012
  27. Black Diamond 40 Miler (40.5) – 6:22:48 – Another race I put together that went extremely well according to those that took part. RIF #65 Jonathan Harrison set a blistering pace for the first 30 miles as I couldn’t catch him. Then as we approached Humboldt I started to gain ground and passed him once we made it into the city. I felt good for the first 34 and PR’d 50K and other splits.  I ended up winning this race by about 9 minutes (and a new 40 mile PR). I had such fun watching several RIF club members set PL’s (personal longs) in knocking back 40 miles for the first time. – November 23, 2012
  28. Death Valley Trail Marathon (26.2) – 3:57:02 – There was great weather this year for the Death Valley Marathon after the wind cancelled the official version last year. This race has a slow gradual climb up until about mile 12.5. From that point it drops from 5,300 ft down to sea level (0) at the finish.  It was all about the Quad City DJ’s on that intense downhill. I left everything on the course and ran it as if I didn’t have another marathon scheduled for the next day.  I’d highly recommend this one to anyone who loves a challenging race with unique and powerful views along the way. – December 1, 2012
  29. Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon (26.2) – 4:14:51 – Dead legs and just an overall cranky body from the Death Valley Trail Marathon the day before made for a miserable first 16 miles in Sin City. I ran into RIF #114 Rigoberto Tellez at mile 16 and seeing a fellow RIFer, that I was not expecting to see, among the masses picked up my spirits. We ran together and paced each other for the next four miles. I picked up the pace from there and finished with a decent overall finish. I had calculated around mile 15 I was on pace for a horrible 4:45 finish so I was pumped with how it ended up turning out. I also enjoyed meeting and talking to RIF #20 Laura Raeder before the start of the race. RNR did a great job fixing the problems with this race from the year before. – December 2, 2012
  30. Lookout Mountain 50 Miler (50.0) – 10:24:06 – LM50 was my first 50 miler a couple of years prior. I had no clue what I was doing that day back in 2010. Luckily, I’ve raced a lot since then and learned a lot along the way. I was curious to see how much I had improved since that first time on Lookout.  I came in with tired legs and a couple of nagging things but overall I felt pretty good.  Two years ago I ran this race in 13:02:23.  I ran well for the first 25 miles and had a nice split, but from 28-38 something didn’t feel right. I was off and struggled through those miles. However, I was able to sew it back together, and I finished strong over the last twelve miles and was very pleased with my time, knocking almost 2 hours and 40 minutes off my 2010 time.  However, my favorite part of this race was getting to run it with several RIF members including RIF #57 Trent Rosenbloom and RIF #65 Jonathan Harrison and  seeing RIF #83 Brad Box, RIF #221 Karl Studtmann, RIF #166 Nathan Judd, and RIF #185 David Pharr complete their first 50 miler.  It was a great event, and I hope to be back again next year.- December 15, 2012
  31. Trail of Fears (10 Hours) – 43.0 miles – A race I put together based on Laz’s Big Dog Backyard Ultra with a few tweaks and changes to it. The basis of the race being that runners have 60 minutes to complete a 4.3 mile trail loop. If they couldn’t then they were eliminated or if they didn’t toe the starting line for the restart of the race every hour they were eliminated as well until one runner remains standing.  The time was dropped by a minute after four loops/hours and eventually got down to 50 minutes for the last loop. I got in 10 loops/43 miles and was pleased with my effort. I could have done a bit more, but I wanted to take over as RD and cheer my friends along and enjoy the show.  A great day and event as I got to witness many friends and Run It Fast – Club members go further and beyond distances they had done before.  I was 85% sure it would be my last race of the year.  – December 22, 2012
  32. Across The Years (24 Hours) – 100.8 miles in 19:49:39 – Well it turned out I had one more race in 2012 to run. I felt like I needed one more long tune up before the HURT 100 in January so I decided to drive over to Phoenix for the ATY 24.  A race I’d been eying for several years. I had wanted to do the 72-hour, but I knew I needed to play it safe and run the 24.  This is a great event where a lot of really cool runners show up to hang out and put down a lot of miles. I enjoyed running with RIF #66 Robert Boluyt and RIF #121 Ed Ettinghausen. I put down some fast splits for the first 30 miles then struggled mightily from 30-40. Mostly it was just tired legs and a bit of fatigue. During this time, Vikena Yutz gave me some great advice that helped with my dead/tired legs the rest of the way.  For several miles from 30-40 I just hoped to get to 50 so I could call it a day, but I hit 50 and kept going. I was on a PR/sub-20 pace and I kept nailing my splits as I crept towards the century mark.  It helped drive me that I had never gone sub-20 hour before for a 100.  Long story short is that I had it timed perfectly to go sub-20. Then another runner reminded me for the math to work right I’d actually be going 100.8 miles.  So I pushed hard the last 10 miles to make up for that extra 0.8 and ended up hitting 100.0 in 19:39 and 100.8 where I stopped in 19:49:39.  I could have easily kept going or walked the last four hours and won the event (as it turned out), but I did well to keep my focus on the HURT 100 and not getting hurt at ATY. Another great event that I hope to be back at in 2013.  – December 29, 2012
All the Smaller Races of 2012

  1. Denmark Dash 5K (3.1) – 19:50 – Ran pretty well. Finished 8th overall, 2nd age group. – February 25, 2012
  2. Run for Haiti 5K (3.1) – 20:47 – Finished 3rd overall, 1st age group. – April 14, 2012
  3. Milan Glow in the Dark 5K (3.1) – 20:47 – Pretty warm nighttime 5K. Finished 2nd overall, 1st age group – April 19, 2012
  4. West TN Speech & Hearing 5K (3.1) – 21:50 – Cold and very windy. Ran poorly. 8th overall, small field. 1st of 2 races on this day. – April 21, 2012
  5. Leadership Jackson 10K (6.2) – 44:08 – Ran well after doing a 5K right before this one.  Finished 2nd overall, 1st age group. – April 21, 2012
  6. Strawberry Festival 10K (6.2) – 43:11 – Planned to take it easy. I was in 10th place after three miles then everyone in front of me peeled off for the 5K finish so I had no choice but to Run It Fast and win this one. – May 12, 2012
  7. Zoom thru the Zoo 4 Miler (4.0) – 28:25 – A very hot and humid afternoon in Memphis. I gave a strong effort and finished 31st out of about 1,200 runners.  – May 24, 2012
  8. Buford Pusser 5K (3.1) – 20:57 – One of my favorite 5K’s in West TN.  It’s always hot, humid, and very sunny for this one.  I finished 6th overall, 1st in my age group.  – May 26, 2012
  9. Milan Knock Out Cancer 5K (3.1) – 21:02 – Small field of 20 runners. I won this one. It was hot and humid and no one was close to me for the last 1.5 miles. 21:02 should never win a 5K though, even in the Sahara.  – May 28, 2012
  10. Bluesfest 5K (3.1) – 19:32 – Hot June day. I ran well and scored a new PR while finishing 4th overall and 1st in my age group. – June 2, 2012

I want to thank all the great people in the Run It Fast family, my friends, and especially my family for all of their support in helping make 2012 such a great success for me. Remember that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. The mind is stronger than the body. – joshua holmes

Posted in Marathon, Race Reports, Running, Ultra MarathonComments (1)

Savage Gulf Trail Marathon Skullcandy

Savage Gulf Trail Marathon Medal (2012)

Here is the finisher’s medal from the Savage Gulf Trail Marathon that took place on March 18, 2012 in Savage Gulf State Park near Dunlap, Tennessee.

It was a first year event and the park rangers that put on the race did almost everything right. The race/park was stunningly beautiful, and the marathon was extremely challenging with climbs over big boulders. It took finisher’s on average 2-3 hours longer than usual.

Bling you say? Well as you can see there was no official bling. Something I’m sure will be rectified next year.

However, there was a swag table full of giveaways. So I saw the Skull Candy headphones and headed for the food tent.

[submitted by Joshua Holmes. Follow him on Twitter @bayou]

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

Savage Gulf Trail Marathon Winners – 2012

Ryan Meulemans Wins Inaugural Savage Gulf Trail Marathon (Results)

Ryan Meulemans won the inaugural Savage Gulf Trail Marathon that took place on March 17, 2012 at Savage Gulf State Park in Tennessee in 4:57:33.

He finished nearly six minutes ahead of second place finisher Brian Costilow. Both men are from Signal Mountain, Tennessee.  Georgia native Michael Scherzer completed the podium with a time of 5:22:58.

Top female was Kris Whorton, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, with a time of 5:50:16.

55 runners started the brutal yet beautiful race and 40 finished.

Photos from the Beautiful, Challenging & Barbaric Savage Gulf Trail Marathon

2012 Savage Gulf Trail Marathon Results

Place First Last G.P. Age Gender Time
1  Ryan Meulemans Signal Mountain, TN 1 35  M 4:57:33
2  Brian Costilow Signal Mountain, TN 2 38  M 5:05:11
3  Michael Scherzer Ringgold, GA 3 45  M 5:22:58
4  Timothy Pitt Arab, AL 4 32  M 5:30:03
5  Marc Krejci Spring Hill, TN 5 31  M 5:34:40
6  Larry Rosinski Brentwood, TN 6 44  M 5:38:21
7  Kris Whorton Chattanooga, TN 1 46  F 5:50:16
8  William Arnold Nashville, TN 7 32  M 5:57:38
9  Randy Whorton Chattanooga, TN 8 51  M 5:57:48
10  Samuel Hammonds Chattanooga, TN 9 38  M 6:17:20
11  Marc Davis Huntsville, AL 10 32  M 6:33:10
12  Tom Holland Nashville, TN 11 40  M 6:33:44
13  Margaret Guy Benton, TN 2 31  F 6:34:19
14  Brian Lawhern Spring City, TN 12 41  M 6:34:21
15  Johnny Pryor Nashville, TN 13 51  M 6:48:35
16  Rick Jarvis Cookeville, TN 14 40  M 7:04:55
17  Scott Huddleston Nashville, TN 15 46  M 7:06:08
18  John Herring Huntsville, AL 16 33  M 7:10:06
19  Daryl Hackler Ashmore, IL 17 53  M 7:10:11
20  Daniel Shrum Chattanooga, TN 18 35  M 7:10:27
21  Marla Albert Nashville, TN 3 41  F 7:13:45
22  Cary Long Huntsville, AL 19 39  M 7:22:23
23  Joshua Holmes Jackson, TN 20 34  M 7:25:52
24  Leslie Trussler Manchester, TN 4 36  F 7:29:03
25  Scott Howell Flintville, TN 21 33  M 7:30:57
26  Jason Hamrick Harrison, TN 22 37  M 7:35:17
27  Arthur Byrne Memphis, TN 23 65  M 7:36:13
28  Emily Conley Lakeland, TN 5 39  F 7:43:37
29  Rick Wilson Nashville, TN 24 47  M 7:51:16
30  Blake Cooper Nashville, TN 25 28  M 7:59:16
31  Sue Barlow Chattanooga, TN 6 46  F 8:05:08
32  Bill Brock Chattanooga, TN 26 54  M 8:05:08
33  Cyrus Rhode Spencer, TN 27 68  M 8:10:44
34  Clark Bilbrey White Bluff, TN 28 16  M 8:14:43
35  Jill Mersman Burns, TN 7 44  F 8:14:47
36  Sarah Starling Knoxville, TN 8 42  F 8:29:28
37  Jennifer Whitley Murfreesboro, TN 9 45  F 9:09:45
38  Randy King White Bluff, RI 29 58  M 9:10:40
39  Randy Amrhein Dickson, TN 30 68  M 9:17:42
40  Lynda Webber Chattanooga, TN 10 53  F 9:23:26

Results via Ultra Signup

[image: Bill Knapp]

Posted in Marathon, Results, Running, TrailsComments (0)

Savage Gulf Trail Marathon – Troy Johnson Up Rocks 2012

Photos from the Beautiful, Challenging, and Barbaric – Savage Gulf Trail Marathon

Here are some photos from the inaugural Savage Gulf Trail Marathon that was held on March 17, 2012 in Savage Gulf State Park in Tennessee.

The race lived up to it’s name. The marathon was barbaric, uncivilized, viscous, and merciless with boulder after boulder mixed in amongst rocky creek beds and hundreds of roots over the 26.2 mile course.

However, it is the most beautiful race I”ve done to date.  It has 10+ waterfalls along with 10-12 swinging bridges mixed in with over 5,000 of elevation gain and 5,000 ft of elevation loss as well.

[photos: joshua holmes]

Posted in Running, Ultra MarathonComments (0)



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