Kyle, Hazel and I drove down to the Berryman Campground in SE Missouri on Friday, and started just slightly after noon. It was a pleasant 5-hour drive in my Honda Ultramobile. We set up camp at Bob & Sara Risser's campsite and went to race headquarters. It was very hot out, even though it was after 5 pm. I was already sweating profusely while just sitting around and talking...a bad sign of things to come.
That night, we slept on top of our sleeping bags until it had cooled down enough to climb inside (after midnight). The sounds of the forest were awesome!
Race Day: Well, it was hot. We started the race at 7 a.m. sharp. It was darn humid at the start, and the temperature started to rise right away, and would continue to do during the race. (By about 2 p.m., it was Ninety-four degrees with 65% humidity). Thats a 114 degree (F) heat index! The Mark Twain forest had received a lot of rain in May, and the weeds were quite overgrown at the sides of the trail; much more so than I remember from past years' races. Poison ivy, nettles, and other worrisome flora & fauna were "reaching out to touch someone" on a constant basis. This didn't bother me too much, but I know it had an effect on a few of the runners.
I started with full intentions of finishing the two-loop, 50-Mile trail run. I opted for the 26.2-mile marathon distance, instead. It was a wise decision, (for me). I was running just fine, but at about 4-hours into the race, my heart rate would not go below 160, even on the downhills. I also had a little bit of disorientation and stumbling over rocks and roots. (I'm normally very sure-footed, and this isn't a problem). I had kept up with water and electrolytes o.k. (or so I thought), but I think that with our cool-ish May weather this year, I just hadn't had enough heat acclimation, yet. One thing that did help on the run: When I got to Brazil Creek at about mile 15, I laid in the creek for 2 minutes. This felt great! Many others did the same. You can lead a runner to water, but can you make them lay down? Apparently you can, on a hot enough day!
Race results: Eric Grossman, the 50-mile winner, was over an hour off of his normal finish time. Trail Nerd Kyle Amos took 4th overall in the 50-mile, and looked good at the end. In my opinion, he looked and felt better than the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers, who seemed slightly "out of it" at the end. (Kyle has a secret weapon against the heat that I will try next time). Trail Nerds Rick Mayo and Gabe Bevan finished the 50-mile with good times, as well. My hat's off to anyone who finished the 50 on this brutally hot day! Trail Nerds Jonette, Paula, and Hazel did an awesome job in the marathon distance. Jonette and Hazel took some decent tumbles, but were more than tough enough to run through their injuries and finish in fine form. Bob "Garmin" Billings did well in his first trail marathon, and I had a nice time talking to him while out on the trail.
The race director-supplied food the night before and the day of the race was very much appreciated. David and Vickie White do an awesome job of making runners as successful as they possibly can be. The aid stations were better this year, and there were more of them. The course is just darn beautiful. You will have to put this on your calendar for next year. Hopefully, it will not be as hot.
I find ways to enjoy life as much as I can. Also, life's too short to treat people poorly.
I'm into long runs in the park, consuming salt, popping blisters,
eating roadkill & tree bark, and burying whiners in shallow, unmarked
graves. I also enjoy designing trail race courses that would make the
Marquis de Sade blush.
A fun time for me would include banging muddy shoes together, setting
broken bones with a machinist's vise, and duct-taping-down any part of my
body that is bleeding or just flopping-about uselessly.
What helps me to be an active trailrunner and grandpa?
1) Daily sponge baths with bovine stem cells;
2) Copious amounts of delicious & nutritious homebrewed beer; and
3) My secret elixir...Bicarbonate of Figleaf.