This review is about 3 months late, but better late than never.
I ran this race last year so I knew what to expect. This year, I had talked my friend, Nicki, into running it as well. We arrived Friday night and stayed at the Sleep Inn after my positive experience last year. We checked in easily. The room was comfortable. I did remember the tiny showers. We decided to eat dinner at the FATZ down the street.
Once again, a repeat of last year. We ended up eating at the bar so we didn’t have to wait. The food was good. We stopped at a drug store to grab water and snacks. Then, we went back to the room to turn in.
The next morning we got up bright and early. We got things together since I knew we wouldn’t get back to the hotel before check out. There was another person also checking out. She was running the race, too. We both found that most of the continental breakfast, including bananas and bagels, were out already. Considering the early morning hour, I was pleasantly surprised. Check out was longer than normal due to computer issues. We were soon on our way. The roads to the race are in the mountains so not well lit. I was glad it was not another rainy day. When we arrived at Brown Mountain Beach resort, there were already many people there. I ended up parking next to the lady I met last year. We gathered up all our things and headed towards the buses.
We didn’t have to wait long before our bus departed. When we arrived at the gas station, we got in line for bib and shirt pick up. The process is quick. I did bring a large ziplock bag to use for my bag check. I put the race shirt in there. We had a little time to kill. There were lots of port o potties beside the main building. Knowing there wasn’t anything on the course, I used them twice. We found the vehicle for the bags. Then we walked with everyone else a short ways down the road to the official start.
This year, I couldn’t hear much of anything said. We just saw people starting to run. I was hoping for a time of 2:45 on this, so I bid Nicki and the other lady goodbye after the start. I was able to use my 1:30 intervals for most of this race. I actually felt pretty good in the beginning. Since the course was the same as last year, I’ll keep this short and sweet. All of the stops were open this year. The weather was close to perfect. The turn I almost missed last year was clearly marked.
By the time I got to the first big sweeping turn where you could see across a gap, I had put enough distance between myself and Nicki that I could just see her entering the turn as I was leaving. I don’t think she saw me. I leapfrogged with one man and a lady at different points that kept me going. They provided distraction and company. I was doing good even after the uphill section. By the time I got to the point that I walked the year before, I refused to give up. I was still doing good and knew I would have a PR even if I didn’t make my goal. I made sure not to kick too early since I knew where the finish line was located. I felt I gave everything I had at the end without getting sick. I ended up finishing in 2:46. I only missed my goal by a minute. That gives me great hope that I can tackle this race again and beat my goal. I will be back again next year.
I turned around and walked backwards on the course to cheer Nicki to the finish. It turns out she stopped to assist another runner who was having issues. I did finally come upon her and walk with her to the end. We then caught the last bus down to the Brown Mountain Beach resort. They had a lunch for us again this year. It was BBQ sandwiches, bags of chips, apples, and some various other things.
I was pleasantly surprised with the amount and selection left since we were on the last bus. They also did the awards outside while we were eating. We stayed in the pavilion so we could sit down at the tables to eat. We did go out the back by the river to get a good post-race shot. I’m terrible with selfies.
Nicki decided this race wasn’t for her. Partly it was for the same reason I love it so much. The race is mostly on ranger roads which are packed gravel. There are no port o potties or civilization really besides the designated stops. I love running in nature which is a big part of why I love this race.