Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Laurel Highlands Ultra 2011 Race Report

My adventure to Ohiopyle started in of all places, Ohio, on 675 heading towards Columbus. There I was to meet my ultra partner in crime, Joe Shearer. The hour drive from Dayton, Ohio to Columbus proved treacherous enough as thunderstorms had descended upon my tiny 1993 geo prizm with a vengeance making it difficult to see 10 ft in front of my vehicle. By the time I had made it (and found a parking spot) near Joe's residence the storm was merely a light rain. I called Joe, let him know where I was, cause I wasn't about to drag all my supplies in the rain to his door, and I threw my stuff into the back of his car and we were off.

Joe, has a habit of trying to sabotage me and this trip immediately proved to be no different. He had conveniently left his trunk open, probably because he had put half a can of Copenhagen in his mouth and wasnt paying attention but we managed to pull over before all of my belongings scattered onto the highway.

Joe tried to tell me that chewing wasn't all so bad and that I should try some. So I placed a wad of dip in my mouth. After about 15 minutes I began to sweat profusely and eventually I threw up out of Joe's window.

Only a couple of hours in, and I already knew this weekend would be EPIC.

Joe is from the Laurel Highland area so we didnt worry about getting lost unlike our last ultra trip to Capon Valley. The only worry I had was how many hours would I have to listen to Wicked being played on the highest volume level in his car....this turned out to be 4 hours of being blasted with non stop musicals that Joe knew every word to. [An accurate summary of the friendship between Joe and I can be found summed up neatly in this song ]. As a condition of Joe letting me ride in his car he made me bring the Grease soundtrack which we listened to on the four hour drive back.

We arrived to the pre race dinner about an hour early and decided to head over to the bar next door to get a couple of pre race drinks. Upon looking at my id I was told they could not serve me because my id was slightly bent. I have never heard of this before and had to drink a diet coke while Joe downed half a bottle of gin.

The pre race dinner was great and the director went over what we could expect from the course. We even saw our friend from Capon Valley, Donny. Donny informed me of Joe's secret concern for me during the last ultra we did. "He was REALLY worried about you, he kept asking about you every 2 minutes!" Joe kept shooting me spiteful looks throughout the dinner which another runner would comment on during the bus ride over to the start line as "sharp looks full of hate". Which is accurate.

We drove to the finish line to set up camp and check out the end of the trail. I had sandals on and Joe informed me what poison ivy looked like and I was standing in it. We got into our tents around 9 or 10 and by midnight there was a severe downpour and thunder surrounding us. By the time I woke up around 2am the bottom of my sleeping bag was soaked. 2:45am came along and the alarm went off and the reality of what lay before me hit me. 77 miles...what the hell.

The shuttle bus picked us up around 330 and by that time I had realized I hadnt put any aquafor on, forgot my piece of paper with the cut off times, my ibprofen and salt tablets. Great.

Once at the start I checked in and sipped on some coffee until the race director indicted we needed to line up across the street. Joe pointed out an anomaly of a runner who was sprinting here and there warming up. He had basketball shorts on and a bottle of in each hand with what I think was gatorade. He didnt have any fannypack for gels or anything. Joe informed me that this is the guy he calls "Gatorade man" finished the race last year. I don't know your name, and if you are reading this both Joe and I have mad respect for you.

The race began and Joe sprinted off into the distance shouting something like "eat my dust midget". I knew I didn't have a shot in hell at finishing the race. I mean I knew I was physically very under prepared. I have only been running about a year and 6 months of that Ive been injured. I was just excited to be OUT THERE.

Miles 6-8 and mile 18 proved to be every bit as tough as I imagined if not more so. Imagine vertical climbs. My knees had locked up and I had to hobble down the down hills by mile 15. I dont know if it was an itband relapse or what. It just wasnt my day and I wasnt putting in a 100% and by mile 19 my time was up. Some you lose and some you don't finish.

Thus began a new adventure. One I like to call "Hitchiking to the Laurel 77mile finishline."

The first ride I took was with three twenty something DOD contractors from Washington d.c. who were doing the 50k relay: Abbey, Amos(?) and Ginger. Thank you guys!

The next ride was with a member of a 77 mile relay team and a prison warden who was kind enough to take me to mile 52! Thank you!!!

The next ride I took was with the wife of either the 1st or 2nd place finisher and she was nice enough to drive me to mile 64.

The last ride was with a family whose daughters were running in a 77 mile relay team and they were nice enough to take me to the finishline where Joe's car was! Thanks again if you read this!!!

It took a few hours but I had made it to Joe's car. Now, I just waited on Joe.

I knew he had it in him to finish the race this year and I was right. I kept checking in to see what mile he was at and when I realized he had made it to all the check points I knew there was no way he wouldnt finish. He ended up being 17th and the youngest finisher. Truly BADASS. I couldn't of been prouder of him. He had settled a score with Laurel, one that he had since he was a teenager.

The trouble is, now I have a score to settle with the that I hope to settle in 2012, one that hopefully won't include hitchhiking.

I may have accidentally contributed in the death of Joe's car battery. Sorry Joe.

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