My ultra travels took me to Sky Valley, Georgia on the 9th of November to run the Georgia Sky to Summit 50K, tucked away in the beautiful North Georgia countryside, just across the border of North Carolina. The weekend before I was at Pinhoti 100, helping crew/pace for my friend Jen, ( Read her race report here: http://ultrarunnerjen.blogspot.com/2013/11/pinhoti-100.html) which definitely got me pumped up for this race!
The course had a bit of everything, climbs, water crossings, water falls, a lot of single track and a few miles of road thrown in too. Oh, and also 12,000 feet of elevation change!
A little bit after 7am, after a short race briefing from the RD Sean, we set out. We would run on the road for about two miles and then get on the trail. We were climbing right from the start, so the cold was not an issue. We would summit Rabun Bald (The 2nd highest summit in Georgia, at 4,700+ feet) twice. I took my time on the first ascent, power walking most of the climb. We then bombed down along a nice ridge line for a few miles. I was running in the middle of a pack of about ten runners, all of us bunched together. Thankfully, no one fell, or we would have all piled into one another. A guy at the front did stumble and go down once we had reached a flat section, but by then we had slowed a bit and everyone was able to avoid a pileup. We then were up and down for a while on a bit of technical and rocky trail. I was feeling good, although I was concerned that I had "Burned a match" running hard on the downhill section and used a bit more energy than I should have.
|Grinding it out!|
I was seeing the leaders now, on their way back from the turnaround, and they looked strong. I began to see more and more runners, and their shouts of encouragement spurred me on. I had now arrived at the calf deep water crossing, and since there was no use in trying to tip toe around it, I plowed right through. The water was cold, but it actually felt good on my feet. I crossed another small creek and then hit the aid station at the turnaround. I grabbed a quick bite to eat, refilled my hand held and headed on my way. I crossed back through both creek crossings and tried to settle into a rhythm, knowing I would have to climb up to Rabun Bald again soon. I was relieved to see there were a fair amount of runners behind me, who I now passed by on their way to the turnaround. I was in between two packs of runners now, and would wind up running the second half of the race pretty much by myself.
I kept grinding away, churning up to the summit of Rabun Bald for the second time. The course went back a different way after the summit, and there was a wicked, technical descent for about a half mile. This section really hurt! I took my time and finally got to some runnable sections and pressed on. What had started out as a bright sunny day had now turned to overcast skies as I came out onto Forest service road, which gradually wound it's way up for what seemed like forever.
I finally got off the FS Road and back onto single track. I knew there was a final aid station right before we got back on the road with two miles to go, but it seemed like it took an eternity to get there. A light rain had started to fall now, and I was ready to get this race finished! I was passed by a few folks on that last single track stretch, and wound up catching up to a guy at the last aid station. We trotted out of the AS together, and began the quad searing descent down the gravel and paved road to the finish. It was good to talk to someone after those couple of hours of solitude! Gregg, it turned out, had hip replacement surgery over the summer, and now was running a 50K, which impressed the hell out of me. Great guy. He will be running the Bartram 100 on December 14th!
|Gregg and I at the finish!|