To begin, I ate way too much Friday night. I couldn’t say no to the pizza and every time I turned around someone had brought a new dessert! Friday night was great; got to try on my LUS jacket, listen to the King harass all the old veterans and newcomers, and warm up by a nice bonfire.

 Saturday, the race started out fine; I think the fact that it was dark helped with that uphill climb because I couldn’t see how steep or long it was. It took me until about Sunset Fields to finally get my heart in the right place and figure out why I was there. As I descended from Sunset Fields after an encouraging word from my English professor, I got my head on straight and decided it was time to run MY race; the trails back home tend to be pretty rocky and technical so I had no problems with the run down the mountain. I was getting mad because I had to.. "pull over" so many times (again, ate too much) but everything worked out.

 There were some very difficult places (the stairs plus large rocks hiking up and around the BEAUTIFUL waterfalls) but crossing the bridge right in front of the waterfall before the stairs was truly refreshing and rejuvenated my spirit. I kept up with “Phat Girl” for a little after the downhill and onto the flat road but she is a beast! Ran alongside several different runners and it was nice to just have someone around.

Beginning the huge climb to Sunset Fields, I honestly was confused about the mileage as it correlated to the elevation map so I wasn't sure if we were making the final climb or not, I thought that came later. I was surprised and relieved when I reached Sunset Fields and was told "4 miles, all downhill!". I knew it was too good to be true and Dr. Horton just had to throw in one last little climb! Those last miles were rough on the joints but I was happy for a downhill finish. When I popped out on to the gravel road I was greeted by “Wooohooo!!” from the Aid Station to which I promptly responded “Woooohoooo!!!” I really picked up the pace coming down this road, especially when I saw someone behind me in the distance! I ended up passing 3 people in the last 1.5 miles or so and then my best friend (who had not run the race) was waiting for me right before the turn to the finish line. I did not quite make my goal time of 5:30 but I was more than content considering how tough the course was combined with battling a weak spirit early on. Hearing Dr. Horton tell me how fast I ran and how well I did always makes it worth it, and the shorts are awesome! Luckily I finished right as the first drops of rain began to fall and then it poured! Got a shower, got changed, got a little food, then waited and watched Major Donahue and Sarah Quigg finish and reach the Promise Land.

            Overall an amazing race with amazing volunteers (nothing beats Peanut Butter and Jelly) who were eager to help me out and fill up my water bottle. This was, for me, the toughest one of the series so far. My GPS took a few miles to sync up so I wasn’t sure my exact mileage, but really, who can be mad at Dr. Horton throwing in a few extra miles? I wasn’t complaining; those miles meant I got to enjoy a sunrise, waterfalls, mountain peaks, and more time in God’s beautiful creation. I can’t wait for the Masochist!

I got to reflecting on this past year and it has been an amazing one, thanks to Liberty and the trails. I never thought I would be running Ultramarathons but God definitely threw me right into them with 3 in 3 months! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dylan Perry