The Holiday Lake 50K is now in the record books...and I had nothing to do with any records. It was an interesting day of ever changing trail conditions as the sun warmed the 5-10 inch snow cover around Holiday Lake near Appomattox, VA.
Racing legend and ultra elder statesman David Horton was the race promoter...when I saw Horton, I reminded him that my first ultra was his infamous Mountain Masochist - in 1988.
"Wow, you're old!" said Horton.
And so my weekend adventure began.
Many strange and interesting things occurred in this event. We started on a road section and then threaded into long pace lines through the snowy underbrush. Approximately 200 ran in the event; another 100 who were pre-entered stayed away due to the conditions.
About three miles in I spotted a woman wearing only tights and a sports bra. She was struggling and breathing heavily and I knew not much good would come out of the day for her.
Soon after that event, I came around a turn to find a female entrant relieving herself...on the trail. "Sorry, little girls room" said the runner. I thought that's funny, I went to the little boys room a bit earlier and it was about 25 feet off the trail.
The first hour and a half seemed runnable, but then we stumbled into some light powder that sucked strength from every step. Patience was essential. We ran the first loop clockwise back to the start and had a strict 4:14 cutoff. I was there in 3:29, refilled my hydration pack and blasted back out in a counter-clockwise direction, knowing the second half would be slower.
As the temps rose, the trail morphed. The snowy going had packed down in a hard path; the runnable first section was now slush and mud with little traction to be found. I came across the same female runner as mentioned earlier, once again leaving an emission on the trail.
All I could think of was "please don't point that thing at me again!"
The going was tough but the tough got going...I struggled off the trail and down the final road section for a 7:21 finish...Dr. Horton (exercise physiologist at Liberty University) shook my hand and said "Nice finish Dr. Mueller!"
I like being back in Horton country...there is a special flare to the ultras he provides. And Horton attracts young runners, the next generation who bring fresh passion - and fresh legs - to the sport.
Once again I thanked the Lord that He allowed me yet another ultra finish. It's a great sport and I don't take it for granted. I'm on bonus time and it's all a benefit and asset in my life.
By the way, if anyone spots a pair of Brooks wind block sport briefs, I left a pair in the shower room. You can mail them back and I'll pay the postage.