Promise Land 50K 2009

Kenny Wheeler

I can quickly sum up the race in one word. HOT...HOT...HOT...HOT...HOT oh wait
that is more than one word, oh well. It was that hot.

I live in southern WV. We have had a pretty cool spring here while
training. As a matter of fact on Wednesday evening and Thursday
morning before PL it was snowing. I was not even close to being
acclimated to the 90 degree temps that we had on Saturday. OK, that is
enough whining for now.

I have been looking forward to this race since last year. I was so
anxious I paid my entry  fee to Dr. Horton on February 13 at Holiday
Lake. I really enjoyed last year. At the time it was the toughest
thing I had ever done physically and I got to run with my son Randy.
He was running his first ultra that day. That makes this race very
special to me. About 3 weeks before PL 2009 I got a nice surprise when
I found out Randy would get to run with me again this year.

The alarm clock at the motel went off 3:30 am. We got ready and left
at about 4:30. It was almost 5:00 and we were still about 2 miles from
PL camp. I realized that I had miscalculated our wakeup time. I like
to get to the start of a race about 1 hour early. That gives me plenty
of time to check gear and get ready. I don't know if it was the added
stress of being a little late or what, but mine and Randy's stomachs
were upset a little before the race even started.

We checked in, got prepared and went to the start area. We all sang
the anthem; well it didn't really sound much like singing, but that
early in the morning I guess it was ok. Dr. Horton prayed for our
safety and then we were off. Not even a half mile up the road there
was a hot wind that blew off the mountain and I said to myself, "man
this is going to be a long day".

Randy and I ran together and we talked a lot ( Randy talks a lot ).
That is ok. It makes the time go quickly. We made it to Sunset Fields
the 1st time. Randy made the comment that we were about 1/3 done. For
the next 7 or 8 miles Randy barely said a word, so I knew he was not
feeling well. I wasn't feeling well either. I felt like I was going to
puke every time I ate or drank, but I knew I had to keep putting food
and fluids in or I would not make it.

Sometime between AS 5 and AS 6 I had not heard Randy behind me for a
few minutes. I turned to look, but didn't see him. I really had no
idea where he was, I didn't know if he had gotten sick or sat down to
rest or what. I thought about stopping to wait or even going back, but
I was afraid if I did either I might not have enough will to continue.
I had to keep moving, no matter how slow.

All day long I had tried not to think about the climb that was ahead.
Apple Orchard Falls. Now that I was alone I just kept thinking about
how miserable that mountain was going to be. I kept thinking that I
would quit at Cornelius Creek, but I couldn't quit. I have entered the
Beast Series; I just had to keep going. I finally made it back to
Cornelius Creek. I topped off all my bottles and took a handful of
food. I planned on walking every step back to Sunset Fields. As I was
leaving AS 6. I saw Randy. He did not look good. I was afraid he was
going to drop out. I told him to hang out at the AS and eat and drink
all he could and then come on and finish this thing.

I began trudging up the falls trail. It was as bad I as thought it was
going to be. When I got to the steeper parts there were runners
setting on the rocks everywhere. I could not stop. I knew if I stopped
I would not be able to continue. I was getting close to the top when I
got a very pleasant surprise; Randy had caught up to me. We made it
back to Sunset Fields for the last time today. That was a great
filling, because I knew it was mostly downhill from here all the way
to the finish. We were going to make it.

It was a wonderful filling to see the campground when I came around
that last turn. We were HOT!!! Tired and sick, but with the Lords help
both of us had made it through a very tough day.

I think it is amazing that on such a hot day, the aid stations all had
plenty of water. The food might have run low, but we had the all
important fluids. Putting on an event like that in those conditions
had to be a logistical night mare.

 Thank you David Horton. Thank you to all the AS workers. Thank you to
all of the volunteers.