. Over the past few days I've struggled mightily about even writing a blog about this adventure. From my performance standpoint there isn't much I want to remember after battling just to walk to the restroom all week but these adventures at the end of the day isn't about me. The Cruel Jewel 100 is bigger than any one person. If it will help one person decide to run it OR back out then it's worth writing.
Myself and Steven Monte picked this race as a tough spring 100 that not many people had done. Going in I knew deep down that I was wading off in the deep end of the pool pretty quick in my running career but why not? A DNF although bitter will pass. Staying at home and wishing I tried would follow me to my grave. I trained really hard for this race. My mileage went up as well as my time in the gym. I can honestly say that I went into the race in the best physical shape of my entire life. Clean diet, staying sober and lots of rest does wonders. I ran a 75 n 56k as prep races and both went off as planned. On to the race...... Me n Steven flew to Atlanta and drove our rental up to Blairsville the day before the race. Georgia mountains are breathtaking. It's not Colorado snow capped mountains but it's dang sure nice.
Race day- We had a noon start which was different but I liked it. Once we got going I found the back as usual but looked for Jeremy. I know he's a smart runner and I wanted to keep him within my sights to control my pace. The 1st 3.7 miles was easy. We had about a mile of winding ups & downs and then 2.5 of just a slight downhill. Very runnable but the fear of going too fast early kept me at a little jog. Right before the 1st aid station- water stop only we had a pretty good little creek crossing but my new found friend- Wayne found a log n rope so we crossed and stayed dry. Pretty uneventful section with just running and chatting. After that aid I knew we were hitting the "meat" of the course. After a road crossing we went up a hill and kept going up. It was just 4.4 through here but it seemed like an eternity. The uphills soon became my valleys and the downhills my peaks. Being from Texas, I'm use to switchbacks winding up. Oh heck no! I guess Georgia never grasped that concept. It was grinding straight up, walk a bit then straight down. Repeat & Repeat. I wore a stop watch and figured my pace so I'd know when to expect a full aid station. Those 4.4 seemed like 7 but I struggled through with Wayne and we finally got there with 90 minutes to spare. Yes they had cutoffs at every aid station......
Aid station #3. To get there we had to go 7.5 miles. In Texas I'm blessed to say that's easy miles. In Georgia- not so much. Just more of the uphills going for a mile with the downhills the same. Through here I lost Wayne and got passed by the last guy on the course in his little trot. He claimed it was his 1st 100 but hmmmm. Dude was strong. I battled on through here and it was just tough sledding. Inclined treadmills & StairMaster is child's play on these hills. I went on through these miles and did 2 more sections. At nightfall I had difficulty running and just had to walk it in to my last aid station of the race. Mile 25.5 n 11 hours later I was done. I got a ride back and caught a nap while waiting on Karl Metzler to come in with his 15th 100 mile win a little over 12 hours later. In my book he's in the top 2 100 guys in the U.S. and watching him sludge that last 1/2 mile battered and bruised I knew it was a hard course. 106 miles with 33,000ft of elevation gain. 70% of the hills in 40 miles..... I napped most of the day in between watching runners come in and of course I drove the RD batty checking on Steven's whereabouts. About 3:30pm he was 25.5 miles out and I waited some more and around 7 I couldn't take it anymore so I grabbed my vest,poles and lights n headed out. 6 or so miles in I found him in great spirits trudging along and we had a good time getting back to the start line. The road is paved the last 1/2 mile or so and Steven was one of just a few to run down that last hill to get his buckle. I knew I was in way over my head but watching him cross that stripe felt pretty damn good. Nothing in Texas is real comparable to these hills. Cactus Rose 100 is runnable in most sections and Eacarpment hill at Cedar Ridgr isn't long or steep enough to prepare you for this. Finish or not, it's pretty safe to say that everyone got their butt handed to them. The locals will run the Georia Death Race which goes down the tough part once but very few will do the 100 and try the "Dragon Spine" twice. It was an epic race and I learned a ton. Will I do it again? Heck no!!! Least not til 2016! Going to Oklahoma Tuesday my dear Dad watched me limp to the truck and wince at every bump. He looked over and asked why I run stuff like this. Without boring him about how I know I can do certain races and need the test of physical & mental strength and to get my butt kicked, I could only say it's FUN! ANd I'm a runner... Til next time #RunStrong
Ohhh and just a side note- According to every experienced runner there, next to Hardrock this is the toughest. I heard one lady who ran the Slam last year say this was harder than those. If you want a test then it's a must do. And RD and his wife are just lovely people to be around.