I attended another great event hosted by the good folks at Mangum Track Club yesterday, The North Carolina Fat Ass 50K.
We continue to be spoiled by mild NC winter weather, and yesterday was no exception. It was a little chilly at the start at 8am, buy the sky was clear blue and temps got up into the low 60's, perfect running weather!
Since I was supposed to be tapering for the Uwharrie 40 miler next weekend, I was only going to run 20 miles instead of the entire 50K. As usual, there were a lot of familiar faces at the start, and before we knew it, we were off on our way down the trail. I had hooked up with my friends Stephanie and Donald, and we ran together the first ten miles or so, chatting and laughing along the trail.
The race went along the All American Trail, which skirts around the edge of Fort Bragg, NC. This area is called the "Sand Hills". I knew about the sand, but foolishly though the course would be rather flat. Wrong! There were hills. Big, small, long and short.
Keeping to my taper goal, I turned around at mile 10 and headed back towards the start. ( this was an "out and back" course) I was also happy to turn around because if I had kept going, Stephanie would have killed me! She was running strong and finished the 50K under six hours.
Since I was busy chatting on the way out, I now had to concentrate on the way back to make sure I stayed on the trail. I was running by myself at this point, chugging along and starting to feel a bit weary after maybe going out a little faster than I should have. I did get a brief break when I came to a road crossing and was interviewed by a reporter from the Fayetteville Observer, the local newspaper. After a short chat, I was back on my way. Now I was getting tired and was ready to be done running for the day. Only problem was that I was still about five miles from the finish.
On the way out I had noticed a glass covered stand with pictures in it alongside the trail, but thought nothing of it. Now on the way back, the realization of what it was stopped me in my tracks. This was a trail side Memorial for Captain Jeremiah Sipes, who was accidently shot and killed by hunters on January 1, 2011 while he ran along this trail. He left behind a wife and two young children. It was the pictures of Captain Sipes with his children that really got to me. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering his family has had to endure, and here I was pissing and moaning about being tired while running on a beautiful day in the woods..... Reality check.
Energized by this emotional trail side experience, I finished the last few miles strong, and was now ready to relax and cheer others as they finished their 50K.
Congrats to Marie Ange Smith and Mark Nowling who finished first, side by side in 4:36. Also congrats to Rachel Dubois on completing her first ultra!
I would also like to thank Mangum Track Club, Mark Long, Susan Dummar, Charles West and all the other volunteers for a job well done!