Hellgate 2012---A beastly Accomplishment


When most sane people turn 60 their thoughts turn to
slower and easier times----strolling leisurely on the beach,
rocking chair on the porch, naps in the recliner, watching
Matlock reruns ( actually do that one). A look at my 2012
running schedule showed the Boston Marathon, a handful of
local 50k's, my eighth Mohican 100, and the worthy milestone
5th Hellgate 100k---oh, and why not do the other 5 Beast Series
races in Virginia---so much for slower and easier times.

The story really need to first go back to late 2007, and friend
and awesome race director back in Ohio, Wesley Fenton told me
about this incredible race he had been doing in Virginia--
a long 100k in the mountains with cold, wind, snow and ice
and for real fun, start at midnight. And the race director
was the legendary David Horton. I was instantly hooked and
eventually convinced running buddy Dave Krekeler we should
apply in 2008. Fortunately Dr Horton found us worthy, and
we began the saga that had us return in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
When we visualized Dr Horton handing us the 5 finishing
Eagle in 2012, we somehow also thought it would be a good
idea to have him hand us the Bear for the Beast Series.
Fellow Ohio friends Bob Jasinski and Todd Bumgardner decided
to join the effort.

The Beast was a worthy opponent. Promise Land went well running
wise, but we managed to kill the transmission in my wife's
beloved Ford 500 near Beckley, WV in a blizzard on the drive home.
Terrapin Mt found me challenging the cutoffs as I was directed
the wrong way out of an aid station and got to run an extra
5 miles through the worst part of the course. Promise Land
brought us the  icy thunderstorm and temperature drop in the
later stage of the race. During the summer hiatus Dave K
unfortunately found he was to need knee surgery and his
pursuit was over--he did gamely join us for support on the remaining races.
Grindstone was, well Grindstone--102 miles of insane climbing
and running twice through the night. MMTR gave us the surprise
snow, and even with a 30 minute extension, found me needing
to sprint to the finish to make the cutoff by 2 minutes.Somehow,
I was alive in the Beast Series, and was confident my experience
at Hellgate would help my chances.

My chances were further helped by a forecast showing warm
temps and a course with little water to wet our feet. As we
waited at the start for the traditional prayer and National
Anthem singing, I was excited to go. I planned to be steady
but sensible on my running and walking---to in the words
of Dr Horton, "Don't be stupid".

I found myself hitting aid stations within 5-10 minutes of
my plan and feeling good. Having Dave K and Bob's wife Annie
out seeing us periodically as crew was also very helpful.
I was comfortably ahead of the cutoffs at Headforemost and
Bearwallow, and then enjoyed Dave K's company as pacer for
the next section to Bobblets Gap. It was when I was solo again
in the Forever Section that my legs started to scream at
me. I was still moving ok, but there would be no PR this day.
So I backed down a gear and decided to enjoy the woods,
mountain views and fellowship of nearby runners. I hit
Day Creek knowing I had 2 hours for the last 6 miles and
found myself shifting even in slower gear-but enjoying
the remaining time enhanced by the sun setting over the
nearby mountains. As I approached the finishing line in
the dark and heard Dr Horton yell my name, I felt an amazing
sense of accomplishment.

Dr Horton handing me the Eagle and the Bear with my friends
surrounding me was even cooler than I had imagined---he
then gave me the awesome jacket for winning the 60+ division
and I was blown away. What a day, what a year!

Thank you to all the amazing volunteers that make our
day possible. The LU students are not only super aid
station workers, but are even more impressive young adults.
Dr Horton, thank you for all things Hellgate. I have heard
your recovery is going well and hope that continues.

For those that care, I did H-G and most of the Beast series
with the following items:
Inov 8 315'S ( Thanks for the recommendation Todd)
Drymax socks---I believe the best at preventing blisters
Vespa--every 3-4 hours
Ensure Plus---my main source of calories
E-Caps--4-6 per hour depending on conditions.
I am a fan of compression shorts and calf sleeves as well.

Last, our group would highly recommend staying at the cabins
at the Camp Bethel site---your own kitchen, bathroom with shower,
for $25 per night is a steal.

I feel remiss if I didn't say something about the horrific
event last week in Newtown. It is cliche in these times to
say our thoughts and prayers are with them---in the case it
is nearly impossible not to think about the unbelievable tragedy.
I recalled the message Clark gave us in the prerace meeting
for Grindstone--he said how LUCKY we were to have the opportunity
to try and run 100 miles in the mountains. Newtown should
remind us how fragile our time is here, and live, and run,
with passion and energy everyday.

I'd like to close with this. Our family is blessed with
my daughter Alicia. Alicia is 22 years old with a serious
seizure disorder called Lennox-Gaustau--she is non verbal,
and severely mentally delayed. But she is a beautiful
and happy girl-and truly wise. She has a few regular habits. She
will come and give you a big bear hug, and pat you on the
back. The other has her grab the hands of the people
sitting next to her and makes everyone hold hands--it is
usually a family member but can be an unsuspecting stranger
at church or a sporting event. If we all would follow
this good advice---give someone a needed hug and a pat
on the back and surround yourself with love--especially
the love of our almighty God--then maybe we can overcome
the evil that was at Newtown and seems to be everywhere.
Let there be hope.

Al Eder