So I have had a while to let my body heal up a bit and thought I would do my normal race recap. Let me start by saying, Chad appropriately named this race the Hellhole 100 miler! It was probably the toughest but most fun race I have ever done!
I had the pleasure of running the first loop with my best friend Chris Leslie aka @mrhowcouldi. It was a fairly hot day and of course humid, its in the swamp so thats to be expected I guess 🙂
Chris and I started off the race nice and easy to make sure we had plenty of gas for the 24+ hours we would be out on the trail. We settled in at a nice 10min per mile pace and just jammed to some music! We took our phones and battery packs so we could blast our tunes the entire day…..and night!
About 5 miles in we ran across our first cotton mouth! He was just chilling along side the trail watching the runners pass by.
About 12 or 13 miles in Chris and I split up, the heat of the day was kicking in and he was not used to it. I was chatting with someone and just plodding along and noticed he was non longer with me. When I got to Andrew Taylor’s aid station (of Try Sports Mt. Pleasant) I chilled for a few to give Chris a while to catch up but I didn’t see him again until late in the night. I was a bit bummed to say the least but I knew Chris would prevail, that dude is a freaking beast.
I took a few random shots along the trail of the endless pines and abundant black water swamp. The trail picture is a little blurry thanks to my lack of breaking stride 🙂
All of Chad Haffa’s (the race director and owner of Eagle Endurance) aid stations were well stocked, except of course for the couple unmanned stations. The clip boards to sign in at the unmanned stations was a bit hard to remember in the night. All I could think about was filling my pack and moving forward, signing that freaking sheet was the least of my worries. I don’t think I missed any but that really didn’t matter any way, more on that in a minute.
I was holding together nicely at around mile 50. My legs and cardio felt great, my Ultimate Direction AK2 pack was working perfectly, my hydration plan was spot on and I felt like I could run another 50 miles (good thing right?). I was trying to hurry to get to the main aid station of the 19 mile loop. This was where my wife and son were going to meet me for a morale boost before I was to start running thru the night.
That’s when I found out why you NEVER wear road shoes on a trail. I stepped on a root around mile 52 or so and felt/heard something snap on the outer edge of my foot. My shoe got really tight and the pain was shooting up my leg. I decided to walk for a bit and see if it would settle down. It just got progressively worse and I knew it was going to be a long night. I started alternating running and walking to try to get the pain to switch up some.
I managed to get to the main aid station but had just missed my family, I was super bummed then I heard a voice say “how are you holding up, you ready for your next loop”. It was Justin Gomori, he had driven down from Columbia SC to pace me for the second half! Holy crap was I stoked. I loaded up with my fresh gear, change of shoes, and my pacer. Off we went into the night, headlamps shining…at a snails pace.
Justin and I ran when I could and walked when I couldn’t. We would be out there for a 6 hour 18ish mile loop! Normally I can run in excess of 31 miles in that time but not tonight, not tonight. Justin tolerated my playlist nicely, kept me on the trail, and made sure I was eating and drinking. Heck, he even filled up my pack for me at the aid stations to give me time to rest and eat. I would have not completed that loop with out him!
We are about 9 miles into the loop and I knew there was an aid station up ahead and headlamps coming up on us so I decided to push hard. I cranked up the Kongos “Come With Me Now” jam and took off. Justin and I managed to pull off a 8:00min/mile at nearly 60 miles in! We rolled into the aid station, filled up, and rolled out before the headlamps caught us!
Now it was seemingly endless trails thru the swamp to get to Andrew’s kicking party of an aid station. It took us what felt like forever to get there. We are running down this gravel road for a long time when my headlamp catches a reflection of a white ghost, no wait, its a banner! Its the Try Sports banner! “Lets race there Justin” seemed like a good idea at the time :). Not sure if I actually had the energy to utter the words or not but I took off anyway. Pulling out another 8:00min/mile at the near 70 mile mark.
My foot was absolutely killing me at this point and I could feel the pressure on my shoe. The pressure was getting so tight that my roof of my foot was going numb. I rested and ate some of Andrew’s rocking party food 🙂 It was time to roll out and see what we could do.
Justin and I plodded along just trying to get to the aid station so he could go home and get ready for work 2.5 hours away. He didn’t have time to run the second loop with me since this loop had taken so long. We get to the last unmanned water station and I see a headlamp and told Justin, thats Chris Leslie! I was right! A couple sweaty hugs later and we sent Chris off to do the last “out and back” for him to complete his 100k.
Justin and I laughed at the conversations we had, that are only appropriate for the trail and should never be spoken anywhere else…ever 🙂 All you ultra runners out there know what I am talking about!
We cruise into the main aid station and I decided to take a nap and prop my foot up in the AC in the car for a couple hours to get the swelling to go down. Justin left for work and I quickly went to sleep.
A couple hours later Chris opened the car door and I got up to complete my last loop. I tried to get up but could not put weight on my foot. My race was done, 73.7 miles into my first attempt at 100 miles and I was finished. SIGH…a major DNF for me. Chris and I told Chad that I would not be heading back out and we went home.
Not the ending I was looking for but it was the ending none the less. Now all I can think about is Hell Hole 100 2015 revenge! I will beat that course next year!
A big thank you to Chris Leslie, Justin Gomori, Andrew Taylor, Chad Haffa and everyone else that helped with this amazing race!