|Approaching 12:01am at the starting line.|
|Panicked head lamp exchange!|
|Too fast for the photo :-)|
Most of this section was downhill, but the grade wasn’t uncomfortably steep and (to my surprise) not too rocky. I was just having a blast, pummeling down hills, leaping over rocks, passing packs of guys. I wasn’t expecting Hellgate to be this much fun and I was having the time of my life! The only tricky part was sometimes it wasn’t obvious where the trail turned, so a couple of times it turned and I didn’t see it, so ended up running into the middle of the woods. But I could always trace my way back to the other headlamps, whom I had usually just passed so it was somewhat embarrassing, but at least getting seriously lost wasn’t really an issue. At one point I passed a group of guys down one of the hills and I didn’t realize I had passed Dave until he came right up behind me and blew by me again a minute later. I was pretty surprised to be seeing him and was excited to see someone I knew, but knew he could not be having a good race if I was seeing him. But he zoomed off ahead at a blistering pace and I didn’t see him again until he came back up a hill, thinking we were lost and questioning the markings. The panic was short-lived though, and another runner soon came from behind and affirmed we were on the right path. Then he took off again and I wouldn’t see Dave again till a few hours later.
Then I let it go. I was going to look at this as a new day. It was 7 hours into the race but my run had just begun.
|It's lunch time at the Team Jackie sleeping bag blanket buffet!|
We started out hiking up most climbs and continued to barrel down the descents at a swift pace. But after a couple more miles I was feeling good running again, and so gave up the power hike completely, and just ran up and down everything and anything, even if it seemed like hiking might be more efficient. I was in a groove and near the end and wasn’t going to let hills slow me down! I had been getting a bit clumsy over the past couple of sections, but this time, instead of muttering obscenities every time I caught my foot and stumbled over a rock, now I would trip and stumble and continue on without even acknowledging anything had happened. Ian laughed at me for this too. There were some long periods of time when neither of us said anything and he could tell I was in my zone, but it felt good to just be running in the presence of someone else.
|Happy to reach the final aid station!|
|You can really tell I am loving this climb.|
|My amazing and dedicated Team Jackie crew.|
|Horton hands over my Hellgate winter parka for top 10 (NOT to be confused with top 13. Heheh ;-) )|
Aside from the fact that this sport actually exists, it looks awesome. Plus I am tired of looking so disheveled after my ultra events. I may just need to start the Extreme ULTRA Ironing movement. And next MD heights training run, don't be surprised if I come back with a well-starched singlet :-)
(And hopefully someday I can make it to THIS level!!!!).