HELLGATE
December 13, 2008
Race Report By: Todd Bumgardner


HELLGATE was a pipe dream challenge offered by a fellow runner last year.  I thought here was no way I was going to run 100k+ in the Blue Ridge Mountains at night in December.  I have backpacked those mountains more than once, no way.  A year later there I was at the start line, a bundle of nerves jacked up on caffeine. 

HELLGATE 2008 was my first 100k, first run with an injury, first run I stopped to the aid a fellow competitor and the first run that a DNF loomed.  Normally I settle within the first hour of the run.  With the well deserved hype of HELLGATE it was somewhere between AS#3 and #4.  Here was also the point in the run that thoughts of my first DNF began to fade.  Not trusting a mostly healed sprained ankle I realized that tonight was not about a PR. 

I reflected back on the friendships I have began to cultivate in ultra running, why I enjoy this community of runners and why I challenge myself at ultra events.  I came upon Steve Core (BEAST finisher) a fellow OHIO boy.  We talked for most of the way between AS #4 and #5.  Little does Steve know but our talk got me through my nights most difficult section.  AS#5 put to rest the final thoughts of a DNF.  My sister and niece were waiting.  What a joy.

AS#5 to #6 the sun was on the rise and the moon was setting.  What a beautiful morning and an awesome night of running with the full moon.  I talked with Kent Gallup as he said in his race report his thoughts were of the Beast Trophy.  Great accomplishment to all who finished.  AS #6 brought my family and Tammy Redman.

The "forever" leg.  Donna Utakis and I "ran" most of this leg through AS#9 to the top of the hill above Camp Bethal.  Great conversation.  At the finish line My family was again waiting to share in the moment.  

Families, friends and volunteers coming together to support one another.  Setting a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (see Rick Gray's race report), standing at the start line, participating in life.  Too me that is ultra running. 

HELLGATE 2008 humbled me and screamed it is about the journey.

Thanks to Rick Gray, Will Jorgensen
, Shophie Speidel, Steve Core, Kent Gallup, Donna Utakis, Tammy Redman, David Horton, the volunteers, my sister and niece.