It was an honor to be back at Hellgate and to be a part of your special race.
Being fortunate to finish HG in 2008 and 2009,with a 45 minute improvement
in my finishing time last year, I came to Virginia with high hopes of another PR.
I had trained well, had the benefit of course experience, and weather and course
conditions looked to be almost perfect. Funny how things play out sometimes,
The rituals of HG are certainly part of itís charm---the gathering of runners at Camp
Bethel, the prerace dinner, the Horton prerace meeting,the nervous dressing and
packing by runners, the road trip to the start, the off-key National Anthem, and at long
last the countdown to start. All things made even more special this year by the
presence of legends David Goggins and Karl Meltzer. I pinch myself thinking I
am lucky enough to be with this amazing collection of 120 runners.
A sinus infection I had for the last week evidently didnít appreciate the cold night air.
While I felt like I was moving well, I found myself struggling to breath at times and
ultimately moving at a snail pace. I came into Headforemost only 10 minutes ahead
of the cutoff---it was the start of hitting aid stations with the workers packing up and
ready to shut things down---very frustrating. All the volunteers, mostly Horton LU students
were fortunately very helpful even to us slogs----what a great group of kids.
Daylight and warmer temperatures helped my cause, and by Bearwallow Gap I was
a more comfortable 30 minutes before the cutoff. Funny how you can forget thingsó
I didnít remember any of the awful road climbs to Little Cove Mountain,and felt
my day slipping away. Fortunately, the section to Bearwallow went much better than
my previous years efforts, so things were looking ok.
No issues getting to Bobblets Gap, but I knew the dreaded Forever Section Loomed.
Things were good until I and a few other runners encountered Joe Byron---Joe is
a big guy by ultra running standards, and he was helplessly laying on the ground
shivering massively and very incoherent .After quite some time we convinced Joe
to get off the ground, put what dry clothes we could on him, got some electrolytes
in him, and started guiding him forward. Somehow I was the lucky one in the group
to try to keep Joe on the trail and keep him from falling or tripping over tricky single
track. We marched on for what seemed an eternity when help finally arrived from the
next aid station to assist Joe.
At this point, not knowing how much running we had until Day Creek, I had little hope
we could make the 18 hour cutoff. A terrific lady in our rescue group, Tammy Godin,
had not finished her last two Hellgates, and had been running since mile 3 with
a bad hip, We decided to give it our best shot. When we reached Day Creek at 4:30,
I was amazed and knew we had a shot at it. We blew through the aid station and
power hiked the climb. Imagine our surprise when suddenly behind us came Joe
and the worker who took over helping him. It was like Lazarus coming from the dead.
Joe ended up finishing a few minutes before Tammy and me in a strangely satisfying
time of 17:55. Quite a day.
Thank you Dr Horton for inviting me and I hope I can return next year to get ever closer
to the coveted 5 time award. Best of luck on your surgery and recovery!