romise Land 2012 
Runnin' with the Devil--and the thunder,lightning,and freezing rain 

As I approached AS5-Colon Hollow, the ice cream station, stereo 
speakers blared the Van Halen classic "Runnin with the Devil". 
"Great song" I remarked to the guys writing down our race numbers, 
"but isn't that more appropriate for Hellgate?" While showing an 
agreeing smile one of them remarked--"but you never know." Less 
than 5 minutes later when I was finishing my ice cream sandwich, 
I saw the skies darken and heard in the distance a rumbling of 
thunder---the Devil was soon to have some fun with us. 

I was back in Virginia with my fellow SW Ohio buddies Dave 
Krekeler( better known as Hellgate Best Blood Ever), Bob Jasinski, 
and Todd Bumgardner for the third installment of the 2012 
Beast Series. Our group has learned to love our treks to this 
trail running haven, catching up with new friends we have made 
in this area and looking forward to the usual charm of a Horton 
event. The setting of the Promise Land Youth Camp ranked right 
with Hellgate, Holiday Lake and Terrapin Mt for quality race 
headquarters. After an evening of food, conversation and the 
always entertaining Horton race meeting and gear giveaway, we 
prepared for sleep--Bob and Todd did the camping thing while 
wimpy Dave and I headed to our Days Inn in Bedford. Back at the 
camp in the morning we checked in, sang a very weak rendition 
of the National Anthem, and following Dr Horton's prayer, we were 
off on the first of many climbs. 

The are many good race reports that tell details of section 
by section, and in particular the PHD of race reports--Keith 
Knipling--has one for Promise Land that is excellent for 
course insight, so I'll skip that minutiae. I will say I 
was pleasantly surprised that there were more runnable sections 
than expected, that the climbs were tough but I like to power 
hike, and the mountain and stream views were amazing. I was 
proceeding very comfortably section by section, staying within 
5-10 minutes of target times I had planned. When I came to AS5 
at just under 5 hours, I was starting to think I could be 
much better than my 7:45 "goal time". 

That of course is when we started Runnin' with the Devil. Initially 
it seemed like it was going to be a light rain that actually 
may feel good, but soon the winds picked up, rain came sideways, 
thunder and lightning were way too close for comfort, and worse of 
all the temps dropped like a rock. I mostly felt numb in my 
hands, but lots of people around me were clearly struggling 
from the conditions. The Dark Side climb to the falls would 
be tough in perfect weather, but today it clearly became a 
death march. I had to pull out all my tricks. I always carry 
a picture of my 23 year old special needs daughter Alicia, 
and this time I held it my hand for all 3 miles. I used my 
mantras--relentless forward motion, shoulders back and down, 
embrace the journey. I kept hearing the voice of my yoga 
instructor Karen saying " breathe"--"soft face" and " relax". 
With great relief I finally saw the tent for Sunset Fields. 
As I saw many runners crowded in the tent trying to get 
warm, I ironically thought of the runners I saw collapsing 
from excessive heat at the Boston Marathon less than 
2 weeks ago. 

I fortunately was feeling well enough to attack the 
remaining mostly downhill to the finish. The trails with 
6 inches of standing water made staying upright a challenge 
while pushing the pace. When I hit the gravel road at 
Overstreet Falls I knew I could let gravity be my friend 
and reached the finish at 7:55. Given the changing conditions 
and making through the day with no falls, I felt very 
happy with my finishing time. 

Congratulations to everyone who finished--or tried for that 
matter. Other than the Eric Grossman of the front pack, most 
had some dealings with the storm. For those that spend 
two hours or longer than me getting to the finish I have 
extreme respect. 

As typical with a Horton race, the volunteers are a terrific 
blend of long time Horton friends mixed with the bubbling 
enthusiasm of the Liberty University students that make 
every aid station a fun visit. I always enjoy conversations 
with the spirited and well spoken LU students--very special 
young people. I saw the experience of the older volunteers 
as they assisted a poor fellow who badly injured his 
shoulder in a fall. Finally the group that prepared our 
tasty post race food, including Dr Horton's wife, started 
our recovery process. THANKS TO ALL THE GREAT VOLUNTEERS!!!!! 

Dr Horton, I was glad to beat my race " seeding"--thanks 
for the motivation. But thank you most for being the 
leader of another fabulous VA trail event. 

I look forward (I think) to a return in October for Grindstone. 

Al Eder