PRE race information:
I will be doing this ultramarathon/50k race this Saturday. I had wanted to do it last year, but it was cancelled due to the government shutdown. This race is held on the Tsali Trail System, which is a National Forest and on Federal land, so they cancelled it last year. The race has 3 different loops that goes around Fontana Lake, which is in Western NC (Robbinsville area) and just south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I am setting a goal of 6.5 hours. I find it really had to set a goal without running it before. It is roughly 30 miles and does not appear to be much climbing and elevation change.
Travel and accommodations information.
We left Roanoke, VA (home) around noon on Friday. We stopped in Asheville, NC, on the way, and got the packet.
Nice bib, beanie and Pear Izumi arm sleeves.
Accommodations info: We stayed at the Microtel in Robbinsville. We didn’t realize that the race is in between Bryson City and Robbinsville. The race address is Robbinsville, so we booked a place there. We were disappointed in the Robbinsville Microtel. For anyone doing this race, or visiting the area, I recommend the Bryson City Microtel over the Robbinsville one! We switched to the Bryson City one the second night. I got a good nights rest and arrived for the race.
Race day, race and post race info:
The temperature was in the low 30s, but the forecast called for a high of mid to low 50s.
I didn’t want to overdress, but I put 3 layers in , knowing I would have to stash or carry a shirt or two for much of the race.
We were off and running around 8:32 or so.
As expected, the trails were beautiful. The views of the lake were wonderful.
The course was steady rolling hills of wooded trails near the lake. I ran well for 15 miles or so. I did 13 in 2:30. I started wearing down after that and had to hike a lot of the remaining miles. I ran when I could, but was more comfortable hiking, with the energy level I had. I finally got to the third and final aid station at mile 23.
At that last aid station, I noticed that the guy manning the aid station had a ‘Canary in the Cave 25k’ hat on. I told him that I ran that race. He said he was the director of it. He was happy to hear that. I, then, noticed they had a bottle of Brandy and Schapps sitting out with a shot glass. They offered me some gatorade, snacks and a shot of liquor. I thought that was pretty funny…I took a picture of the liquor. I usually don’t drink liquor, but I had to this time..just because. I took a half a shot of brandy.
I actually felt better after that aid station, for 3 miles or so. I had 7 plus to go, though. My wife and I had exchanged a few texts. She was going to meet me a couple of miles from the finish line. I ran into the race director with around 2.5 miles left. He was just checking in people. I ran into my wife soon after. She ran/walked with me the rest of the way and carried my extra shirt and water bottle. It was great to haver her support and company the whole trip. I crossed the finish line at 6:37. That was 7 minutes short of my goal. That time isn’t bad, considering my lack of long distance training, the last couple of months. With some decent training, I could easily do this race in under 6, if not 5:30. They gave out a nice keychain as a finisher award. It was a fantastic race and I would do it again.
We went out that night. Most of the nicer restaurants were shut down for the off season, but we found a nice place to eat in Waynesville. The Bourbon Barrel Ale. Maria spent the day in Bryson City, while I was racing. She had a great time visiting the shops and talking to the people. I got a feel for the city through her and by visiting it some later that night and the next morning. It is a fantastic little town. It is very outdoors with a lot of personality. I got the feel that it is on the brink of growing a lot more in popularity. It is already a very bustling place in the spring through fall. The night after the race and after eating, we had a beer at Nantahala Brewing. This was a very cool place with great atmosphere. I highly recommend it.
A younger crowd (late 20s) of 7 or so guys and girls were at the brewery. They approached me and asked if I did the race. They had seen me stretching in the parking lot, from the stiffness in my quads. They had all done the races, as well. Only one of them had done the 50k. We were sharing stories. They had been at that last aid station, waiting on their friend, when I went through. They remembered me and that I took that shot. They made a big deal out of it. We all laughed about it.
My Garmin readout: