The 16th annual Rattlesnake Trail 50K was, as usual, a very tough affair. The ultra is in the Kanawha State Forest near Charleston, WV. Ten climbs totaling 5000 feet of drop and climb wore me to the bone. I last did this race about 10 years ago and ran 6:30. This time around it was 7:11 and I had to take it to the bank. Check out the photo of master competitor at right; this semi-prone position was the best I could come up with for over an hour after completing the course.
Temps were steamy, in the 80's with heavy humidity. I was soaked and dripping by the first aid station. It was time for a Hammer Gel and a bottle of Heed before heading back on the trail.
In short fashion I was alone in the woods so opted for my Zune. First listen was a new (audio)book by Sarah Silverman. After about an hour of a half on bed wetting and bowel movements I had enough and shifted to the album shuffle mode. Things were great until 4:25 into the race, when I sweated out my headphones and the left ear pod went south. From that point forward I could hear partial song, partial footstrike and heavy breathing.
After each aid station, race promoter Dennis Hamrick sends runners up a new hill. The climbs are taxing, footing is tough (many rocks and roots) and the descents can be dangerous. One fact I must admit is that I'm not the descender I used to be. It's simply age and fear. I don't have the confidence to charge down a trail with bad footing. Catch one toe and it could lights out. I'd rather stay in the game and live to race another day.
Rattlesnake is one of my favorite 50K's. It's challenging, has plenty of terrain and excellent event management. I'll say this almost every post, but I thank the good Lord for the opportunity and each finish is a gift.
Now it's time to look forward and plan. There are new bike rides and ultras to run. It's great to be part of the endurance world.