The short of it is, I met the mo’st awesome people and ran some mo’ ridiculously fun, yet challenging trails! The long of it is……
We got a late start so we didn’t leave Clarksville, Tenn., until around 6:30 p.m. The trip there and back was just as much a part of the “non-event” as the Skunk Run. Just a few words about the trip: Have you ever wondered where the remains of dead skunks and other road kill are taken to? I’m fairly certain we passed through the city in which they are contained. Witcliffe, Ky., or as we have named it – Sewer City – is FOUL!
We traveled on a two-lane highway (I hardly call it that when the speed limit was 55 m.p.h. and filled with semis going 45) for what seemed like forever until we reached Death Trap Bridges. We crossed two bridges that were barely wide enough to fit two cars, but were safely supported by guard rails that were ankle-high. After what seemed like forever (6 and a half hours) we rolled into Ava around 1a.m. Right as we reached the Ava sign, my youngest Kidiot announced, “Mama, I found the Skunk!” as we got a big whiff of dead skunk. It was obviously a good omen for a great day to come!
My husband David went to check us in at THE hotel in Ava. The desk clerks asked him if we were there for a wedding. He said no, and the clerk asked him why we had driven to Ava because there seemed like a lot of people checked in other than the wedding guests. David explained that we drove to come to a run.
The clerk said, “You drove all the way here to run? For 10 hours? Why would you do that?????”
My husband replied, “Yeah, I know, but my wife really likes to run. She’s an Idiot.”
Clerk-(laughing) “Oh, I bet she wouldn’t be happy to hear that, but she’d have to be an Idiot to want to travel this far or to run that long!”
Since it was now 1:15 in the morning, my husband didn’t take the time to explain, but did voice his opinion that he should get a shirt that says “IDIOT SPOUSE SUPPORTER” because he’s no idiot…he knows what makes a marriage work…keeping Mama happy. Got settled into bed around 1:30 a.m. and was up at 6. I was anxious about knowing how to get to the site since there really isn’t an address for it, but was greeted at the door by another fellow Idiot, Gary Croy, who graciously led the way.
Once we arrived, picked up our shirts (love them!), bib #s (met April Wilson-super sweet), greeted each other and heard what I feel was the quote of the day, “There’s some good running up there once you reach the top of the ridge.” ~David Murphy
That’s a lie.
There is never a top, but it was all good running…or climbing rather. I set out and splashed through the creek crossing eager to get to what looked to be an open grass field up the entrance of the base of the “rolling hills”. I took about four strides and was almost taken out! This area I dubbed Mountain Goat Gully, booby-trapped by a million divots (excellent ankle strength training).
I reached the base of the “rolling hills” and started my ascent of the first of MANY steep inclines. Note: Never trust David Murphy’s interpretation of the course. Along the way several fellow Idiots introduced themselves and chatted for a bit. Of these, the “Elites” were among them! Just an example of the mo’ awesome friendliness of the group! The running community is generally nice as a rule of thumb; however I think what makes this group excellent, is the acceptance and encouragement of the variety of levels of runners. These three stopped to walk alongside of me to make introductions, then galloped up the giant “rolling hill” like it was no big deal.
I kept trucking up the steep inclines…I mean “rolling hills” thinking and even saying to another Idiot at one point, “Well, we eventually have to reach the top sometime right? Then we get to go down!”
Yeah…that never really happened.
Eventually, it seemed as though I was all by myself. I enjoyed the time reflecting on a variety of thoughts, let a few “WEEEEEE!’s” go on the downhills and an occasional “Are you kidding me?????” on the uphills.
Then the solitude got a little creepy. No worries because about that time, Jon Wilson was at the top of one of the MANY “rolling hills” on the four-wheeler. He kindly took my jacket back to camp and I felt a little lighter. I realized I had not eaten breakfast, so I chomped down a few GU chews, which was kind of difficult to do when you are trying to breathe in as much oxygen as possible through your mouth and chew at the same time. Chugged some GuBrew and climbed the rest of the “rolling hill” I was on.
This was the first run I actually got to use my hydration pack my sweet husband bought for me for Christmas and I loved it! FINALLY, I think I reached the most “top” point of the “rolling hills” and the views were beautiful. I knew I only had a short time to run due to other travel obligations so I stopped to take pictures/videos to take it all in.
Now, as much as I have explained – not complained – about the “rolling hills,” I have to say the downhills were F.U.N.! Stuck my arms out like an airplane for balance and flew down them. Behind the intense, focused look on my face was a huge SMILE! The last mile and a half was just enough to make me feel like a trail blazer and forget about how difficult the first part was, leaving me thinking I could absolutely do another loop or two.
I checked into camp and hit the bathroom, because listening to all that water sloshing around in the hydration pack that was now empty because I sucked it down made me have to GOOOOOO! Refilled my hydration pack and didn’t realize that I had accidentally hit my watch and turned off my Garmin. Turned it back on about a quarter of a mile once I was back out onto trail. Because I was kind of crunched on time I decided I would just do the 3-mile loop twice. I followed three Kidiots on the loop.<—–Never trust a kid with directions about loops. Lost one, but the other two were quite the conversationalists and excellent pacers! We talked about family (siblings) and then we talked what we were going to eat once we made it back to camp as a reward.
Logan taunted me with his detailed description of his breakfast burrito that he had eaten earlier. We came to the end of the trail loop to the road and the boys turned it into an obstacle course, scaling over the gate. I, on the other hand, took the trail out to the road. They weren’t impressed, but kindly waited and said, “Come on ma’am!” We were almost finished, but had to take a quick photo of their accomplishment of climbing the mountain. That’s when I realized I had taken the wrong loop. That was the 1-mile loop. Oh well, it was fun! I made it back to camp again and asked where the 3-mile loop was. David and Jon said to just follow the road back up from the 5-mile loop towards the conservation area.
There’s a sign..you’ll see it, they said.
No, you won’t.
So, off I went out again, thinking I had just enough time to get the 3-mile loop in. I went down the road, then turned onto the back portion of the 5-mile loop following a kid, thinking she was running the 3-mile loop. Here we go with the “rolling hills” again. It wasn’t until I was 2 and a half miles into the trail that I asked another Idiot if she was doing the 5-mile loop and where she was at. That’s when I realized I had to turn around and go back because there was no way I could finish the 5-mile loop in time and this definitely wasn’t the 3-mile loop. I enjoyed chatting with her and it made the time pass quickly. She noticed on the way back a small conspicuous sign that said “cabin loop” and asked if that was the way back to camp.
Um, yes I suppose it was if we were running the 3 mi loop! Grrrrrrr!
So, we headed down the rest of the 5-mile loop, and I made it back to camp just in time to snag a breakfast burrito and a cinnamon bite, and head out. Jon reminded me that I had almost forgotten my medal!!!!!! Now, I will say, that about this time my cinnamon bite disappeared. Hmmmm….suspicious!
I got in the truck and was a half mile out of camp when I realized I had forgotten to turn my watch off…excellent pace! When I arrived back at the hotel I realized that the hydration pack that I was so excited to use had concealed the blue bleed from my fairly new undergarment that went through my new IRC shirt. Skunk Run NOT Smurf Run! BOOOOOO!
I took a quick shower, jumped back in the truck and headed to our friend’s house where the questions began: “Why would you come to Ava to run?” “Why is it called the Skunk Run?” “What kind of Idiot would run for 10 hours?”
We enjoyed our time with friends, then headed back home. Arrived home at 1:30 a.m. and sprayed my IRC shirt like crazy with Resolve. Meltdown averted. Shirt is fixed.
And this is all why I will be back next year!!!!!!
*If it seems like there is a lot of mention of rolling hills, that’s because there are a LOT of them!