Not your typical race report…

Jeff Jones – Idiot #81
Skunk Run 2014 Overall Winner

Not your typical race report….well, not your typical race. Skunk Run 2014

“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” -Arthur Blank

I’m still not sure why I thought that a place named Caney Mountain Refuge would be just another walk in the park when I was thinking about mileage goals on Friday. My co-workers are always asking me; “How far is this race?” “How fast will you run this one?” In this case the Skunk run was different, I had never run an 8 hour endurance run, and it had certainly been a while since I had done anything like it. I made bold predictions and rationalizations because your first goal is always a little aggressive. My goal was to go out and run it hard, and well….

Derek Glos, who is finding himself in crazier situations as each day passes, just drove in from a trip to Oklahoma to pick me up in the wee hours of the morning to head an hour and a half to Caney Mountain Refuge. We stopped at McDonalds to pick up some food, I try to make sure I get 600-800 calories before my trail races to try to stay ahead of the calorie deficit. We spent all hour catching up since last time we had run together and a little strategy, but as we approached the first words out of my mouth were something to the effect “Well this probably won’t be flat and fast.” Goal one just adjusted to goal 2.

Upon arrival to the park the start finish area was already set up and a few people had already arrived. For any readers who have never run a trail race….DO IT unless you a major Type A personality with OCD, well then stay very far away, for your own good. The aid station was stocked and we received the warmest welcomes I have ever had at a race. I would say that this more closely resembled a family reunion that your typical trail race. As people continued to arrive they would introduce themselves as the offline version of themselves and then start a conversations where it last left off on the IRC Facebook page; jokes about the number 28, rubbing dirt, etc., etc.

Now for those that are typical trail runners you know that one of the best things about the trail race is the atmosphere, comradery, and fun, well… and beer. This race will not disappoint! You will not find a race that can challenge you to the point this one did that is as laid back and fun anywhere. I would say that this is as laid back as any fat-ass race out there but more organized. The best of both worlds!

As usual on the trails we all started a little slower. The trail started through a rough field and hung a sharp left into an immediate climb, both the 5ish and 11ish mile loops had to go through this roughly 2 and a half mile (on and off) climb. This was challenging, we kept the pace slower through the first loop. During this loop we decided to take the 11 mile turn, since we had plenty of time. About 40 minutes into the run is where I met Derek Sparks from Ava. This guy was closing fast on us, but instead of passing stopped to keep pace with Derek Glos and I. This made conversations a little difficult because every time I said hey Derek, I got two answers. So I just smiled and would talk to whoever answered first.

After running for a while Derek Sparks told us his stories and both of us were quite impressed by this guy. This was his first marathon. I felt very privileged to share that experience with him, while laughing and calling him crazy for making this his first marathon. He told us he was tired but we would have never been able to tell by the look of determination on his face and the sheer will to succeed. Not only did he finish the
marathon, but because of the two Idiots he was running with he had to finish his first marathon with a 2 and a half mile victory run back to the start and finish area.

This wasn’t the only inspiration for this day. I say at least a dozen kids out on the trails running, smiling, and having a blast. It is good to see kids out enjoying time with their family and enjoying that same passion that their parents have for running and the outdoors. I saw people who committed to walking the trails who were getting it done, some out all day, a very impressive feat in itself. And then I saw Emm Foster whom I though wasn’t going to run at all laying coming down the backside of the hill at a good clip, and later found out not only did she run but she got the most overall miles for the ladies.

The great times continued when I heard the award for most blood went to a kid that fell while playing at the start finish line. I heard the race director handed him the medal and said “now you’re a legend”, which isn’t too far from the truth.

I continued on and was approaching 30 miles when strategy played into my run. If you left before 2:15 you could go out on one more loop, but if you didn’t get back before 3:15 you only received 5 miles for that loop. Looking at my watch I was getting close to time so my only choice was to run the two five mile loops instead of one 11 mile loop. The up side I got to take in more food by hitting the aid station more frequently. The downside was that I got to see the finish line more frequently and had to do that initial climb through the first two miles more frequently.

By the time I was climbing that first climb on my last loop I completely understood why they called it Caney Mountain. I was spent. My legs were shaking uncontrollably. I was thirsty, hungry, and getting a little grouchy; and loving every second of it. This race had the best balance I have ever seen at a race. Good trails for people just coming out for the first time and here I was a little wobbly after seven and a half hours of running. I was glad to come in on that final loop to the group where we sat and had a couple of beers and talked about how we all smiled, drank water, and didn’t die.

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