South Carolina has a five race ultra series organized and put on by Terri Hayes. Terri is an experienced ultra runner with a couple of hundred ultras under her belt and she knows what ultra runners need in a race. We don't want frills, we want incredible runnable single track, great volunteers, and a chance to test ourselves with other kindred spirits. Terri delivers all this and more in races with no cutoff times. Oh, did I mention that there is no entry fee? No wonder every one of her five races "sells out".
Race morning arrived with perfect fall weather. Temperature was about 50 with clear skies. After checking in and writing the order of the loops on my hand with magic marker, (we were told in an earlier email to memorize the order of the loops, yea we know how well brains work after 5 hours of ultra running) Terri gave us final directions and we were off.
The course is on the Forks Area Trail System (FATS) just across the border from Augusta, Georgia. These trails are used a lot by mountain bikers and are very well maintained and runnable. The course immediately started with single track and we sorted ourselves out pretty quickly. I started at the very back right in front of Terri. Oh yea, Terri also runs her own races as the sweeper. All intersections were well marked, but having the loop order written on my hand helped out a bit, too.
It was a great day for a run in the woods. Since this was a "training" run for me, I started at an easy pace and enjoyed the day. The aid stations were well stocked with water, HEED, powerade, pretzels, cookies, chips, boiled potatoes and salt, bananas, pb&j sandwiches, and a special treat of home made banana bread. Along the way I slowly picked off other runners, by my count I ended up passing a total of eleven runners. One of these was Leopold who was running his very first ultra. Did I mention that Leopold was 10 years old? He was running with his mom and ended up dropping but not until after he completed well over 20 miles. Way to go Leopold!
After finishing there was plenty of pizza and chocolate brownies. Thanks Terri for a great experience, I'll be back to run some of your other races next year.