This weekend would be a short surgical strike flying into Orlando on Friday afternoon and flying back out on Sunday night. This still gave us time, though, to enjoy some pre race socializing time as well as plenty of time to enjoy the post race festivities. Travel was routine and without problems. It was also nice to have 1 1/4 hour flight rather than a 4 hour flight like the last two weeks.
The course was laid out in a dumbell fashion referring to the shape of the course and not implying anything about the course designer. : ) That is, there were two loops connected by an out and back with the total distance of 25 miles. In fact, I really liked the course design with aid stations every 4 miles and the near impossibility of getting lost. The course marking and signage was superb displaying Mike's Teutonic heritage, according to Kristen. More on the signage below.... The start/finish with room for nice flat grassy camping was established at the Visitor Center of the park.
|Start/Finish with the race about to start and participant parking in the distance.|
|This is Kristen on the right giving last minute instructions.|
Below are some pictures of the course and aid stations with captions. Unfortunately they are not in the order you come to them on the course but Blogger mixed them up when I uploaded them and I'm way too sleep deprived right now to sort them out. I guess you'll just have to run the race next Fall and see for yourself! And once again I only carried the camera on the first loop.
|In the first mile.....|
|Also early while we are still bunched up.|
|Lots of great wetland habitat.|
|Unfortunately there was a bit too much of this kind of stuff for my liking. This course was flat and non-technical but still made you work.|
|This was the only spot where we had to get our feet wet. About 50 yds of ankle deep water.|
|I like this shot.|
|High energy AS1.|
|This was the start of a mile long stretch along I-95 with recently mowed long grass. This stretch was about 50/50 hard/not too hard.|
|This was another long straight stretch that lead to the aid station in the next photo. Easier running here though.|
|AS4 got my vote (and won the best AS competition!) for the incredible spread of hot and cold food as well as icy cold sodas all through the night.|
|Most of the course was pretty open so this section was a nice change. It also had an easier tread than much of the trail.|
|There was about 1 mile of road like this where it felt good to open it up a bit.|
|AS 3 was a close runner up for best AS. I had my second drop bag here and also my first ever beer during a race. It tasted so good at 6:30am even though it was a Bud Light.|
|AS 5 the Paleo Cafe. I had some tasty grilled chicken and many icy Sierra Mists here. Another fantastic aid station!|
|Think it gets hot in Florida in the summer?!??!?|
|A typical section of the course and a nicely framed shot if I do say so myself.|
|I think there were 4 of these signs including at the big wet spot shown in the picture earlier in the report. Hardrock course marking crew take note!|
|These along with the mile marker signs were very nice to have especially late in the race when the miles tend to stretch out and you wonder "Where the $!$#%^ is that aid station!"|
This is a course not to be taken lightly. It is flat and the tread is always soft and never really technical with very few rocks or roots but it wears you down. Running through the grass is hard as the miles pile up and the sand can take you right out if you try to run too much of it. Where it is really soft you have to walk it because running it just saps you too much. You will however find absolutely wonderful support for you to achieve your goals. The course marking really makes you feel like you're being taken care of and the aid stations were first class and unbelievably well stocked. Make no mistake, Kristen, Mike and the volunteers are dedicated to making this a race that you will remember with fondness. Thank you all for a wonderful weekend!
I've mentioned this before but one of the things I really value in an ultra experience is having some kind of a post race party. It doesn't even need to be big or include entertainment or anything like that. Just providing some food at the finish and a relatively comfortable place to cheer the finisher in is enough. And this race provided just that. I had the yummiest scrambled eggs with bacon, sauteed onions and green peppers with salsa on top after finishing. This event was small this time so the finisher didn't exactly stream in but still the cowbells announced a runner coming in and everyone got up to cheer them in. I got cheered in at 24:51 and Liz at 26:29. The final finisher, a first time 100 miler I got to run with earlier in the race was Briggitte Sheehan from Delaware in 31:08. We found that we had many friends in common including ultra icons Steve and Deb Pero, Keith and Gary Knipling, as well as Sue Johnston and Chris Scott. Great friends all.
Next weekend is off for both Liz and I. The following weekend I will be doing the Winter 100 just outside London in the UK. (Send me a note to scott.brockmeier (at) gmail.com if you're in Britain and want to tip one back with me! I'll be there 14-27 Nov.) Liz will be doing a 100 mile track race here near home called the Shazaam 24 hour and 100 mile run.
Race count: Liz (32) Scott (23)