I know what you’re thinking– three full race reports and I’m STILL not done talking about the stage races?! Well y’all, they were just that awesome. Seriously though, I just have a few more things I wanted to add.
For starters, here’s a look at the elevation profiles for each day:
Check out some of those inclines, folks. I think my favorite part of these is the straight up line on day 1– that’s the Waterline climb that I mentioned. I wasn’t kidding about it being practically vertical!
The race website said that the courses set for each day would be full of technical sections that would challenge even the most seasoned trail runner– and they were totally correct on that! The mileage wasn’t incredibly high (something I heard some folks complain about when this first started to show up on our running scene’s radar), but I think each stage was definitely tough enough to leave you feeling sufficiently pooped at the end of every day. Shortly put, when they put that medal around your neck at the finish line, you feel like you’ve earned it.
Overall this was an incredibly well organized event. With it being the first year, I expected some degree of disorganization, but I honestly can’t think of anything that went wrong. The race directors were clearly working extremely hard to make sure that everything went as well as possible for their racers. The pre-race communication was excellent, and I never felt confused about anything leading up to race day. Packet pick up and the daily check ins were a breeze thanks to awesome volunteers. The course was one of the most well marked trail races I have ever participated in– you could definitely tell they put a LOT of effort into making sure no one got lost. The aid stations were plentifully stocked, and the goodies from Powerbar (one of the big race sponsors) were something I started to look forward to each day. Also, the workers at the aid stations were always so nice and seeing their smiling faces was always a mental boost for me. The finisher’s medals were AWESOME, and my hand made age group award is definitely among my prized possessions now. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this event! I can’t wait to participate in this event next year, and I plan to email the race director soon to ask if he has an idea on when the registration will open so I can mark my calendar! I have a feeling that this event will fill up FAST in 2015.
And now, let me tell you guys about these fantastic warrior women that I am so proud to call my friends:
I met Amanda and Kim in the half marathon training group I participated in back in the fall of 2012. I always thought they were awesome and totally wanted to be their friend (something I confessed to them while on the run this weekend). At the start of this winter, we joined forces to train for McKay Hollow 25k in March. We spent nearly every Sunday morning together in the woods, laughing together and talking about everything under the sun. Without their constant assurance and encouragement in these past few months, there is no way I would have been brave enough to take on some of the things I’ve done during this trail running season.
When the rumor of the stage races first started circulating, I definitely had an interest in doing someday, but wasn’t really sure if it was in the cards for me this year– I mean, there’s no WAY I could complete a three day trail race, I’m not that hard core! As the weeks went by, we talked about it more, and slowly I was convinced that I could totally conquer it. Eventually registration opened, and we were all chatting on a group Facebook message: “Are you guys doing it?” “I will if you will!!” “Okay… I’m registering… y’all better not be kidding about this…” “I’m registered too!” “OH MY GOSH WHAT HAVE WE GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO?”
We joked about being dead last on each of the stages and possibly being the ones the sweepers ran with every day, but in all honesty, with these ladies by my side, I never doubted that we would do anything but finish this event strong. I am so thankful for the incredible support system being in my local running community has given me. I complete these events not because I am some kind of super-inspirational awesome person, but because I have a huge crowd of people standing behind me all the time, telling me, “yes you CAN” and never allowing me to second guess myself for too long. I feel so honored and blessed to have people like Kim and Amanda in my life– they are the kind of friends that will talk to you about serious, soul-baring stuff one minute, and then joke about crotch chaffing with you the next. Everyone needs friends like that!
Anyway, all that to say: I had an awesome time this weekend. I really adore my running community. I really love my friends. 🙂