- BT Mentor Program
- General Discussion
- Iron Distance
- Other Resources
- Site Issues
Fear the Reaper 12 Hour Endurance Trek - Adventure
View Member's Race Log View other race reports
Last updated: 2012-03-29 12:00 AM
2012-03-30 11:35 AM
Subject: Fear the Reaper 12 Hour Endurance Trek
Well, crap. The race report function eliminated all of my course and lap information. So, here it is, for your reading pleasure:
I arrived at the race venue at 8:30 PM, and said hello to my friends who are also running. My teammates were a 40 year-old ex marine, police officer and a 30-something guy I'd never met but who wound up being really cool. I knew I should eat something but I couldn't . Too nervous.
Interesting side note - a failed attempt at a photo-bomb left me with a shard of rock in my knee. It must have hit me just right because I had to lay on a bench for about 20 minutes to keep myself from passing out. This was not very reassuring for my teammates...but I came out of it.
My only real warmup for this race was a 90 minute nap in my friend's tent. "Nap" is a generous term, because I did more trying not to puke and listening to them talk about crazy people on Facebook than sleeping, but the rest certainly helped.
Finally, at 11:30 PM, the RD called us up to touch base about the course. At 12:01AM, my buddy Rob was the first on our team to go.
I'll start by saying that there is no way to really get a feel for this course without actually doing it. We started with a hand-over-foot bear crawl climb up the side of a muddy mountain. There were no good footholds, roots, rocks, and few trees to use to push up. You basically had to move quickly, dig in and hope for the best (especially after the 5:30 AM thunderstorm....more on that later).
Next, we had about 30 feet of flat running, followed by an endless steep climb up an ATV trail. This was run/walkable, but steep enough to need to put a hand down here and there. I would estimate about an 18-20% grade on this one, and it lasted for at least a half a mile.
Now comes the descent. Equally steep to the climb, this descent really got me. My quads cramped up almost immediately on the first lap. Extremely painful. I seemed to be one of the only ones with such a severe case of cramps (or maybe I just don't practice enough vertical-drop running) because my teammates did not report such issues). Anyway, I reverted to a crab-walk (belly up, feet out in front) to get down most of the hills. With my handy-dandy cycling gloves, this was a good option. It relieved the cramping and allowed me to travel much faster and more safely than hobbling.
In the middle of the night, the descents were a little scary. In a few spots there were 180-degree switchbacks. If you'd been running too fast, there's a chance you could've run right over a cliff. Fortunately, Dan (the RD) had placed those green glow sticks at sharp turns, course changes, like this and these were immensely helpful.
After the descent came rope climb #1 (dubbed the "easy" one - Ha). It was the shorter of the two, an estimated 200 feet, but very slick and with very little footholds. I was actually impressed that I hurried up the rope strongly and definitively, since I've never done anything like that in my life. I guess the months in the gym and my hourly pushups in my office have done their job.
So, up the rope, then another steep, crab-walky descent, and into The Pond. Let me tell you about The Pond. This was more like a cesspool. Imagine liquid resembling chocolate milk and raw sewage, floating on a bed of solid waste and jello that has been transformed into quicksand. That is The Pond. My buddies had warned me to ease myself into it, not because of the cold, but because jumping in would amount to my being suck waist-deep into the muck and I would most certainly lose shoes. So, in I went. Immediately My left foot sank to about knee deep into the bottom. Each subsequent step brought the same squishy, stinking experience. So, The Pond had to be encountered very gingerly. I was very glad to be wearing tall, wool socks, as this prevented some of the pebbly stuff from getting into my socks.
After the pond, there was some flat, slick running over trails and bridges, until you came to the creek bed. The creek bed was more like a waterfall. Nearly as steep as the first hill, we had to run/slog through slick rocks and running water, until we reached rope #2. This was the long one, and a good bit steeper than rope #1. However, with the rocky creek bed, we had more opportunities for footholds. Still, it was a little treacherous, as I imagined the possible injuries that might come if I lost my footing or my grip on the rope and slid face-first down some unforgiving rocks.
After that, we had another shorter, steep run up to a hill top and then a steep, sandy/pebbly descent back to the check in area. Overall a monstrously hard course, but so much fun. SO MUCH FUN.
My first lap was just as I expected - thrilling, difficult, isolated (as there were only about 10 people on the course at any given time). I really thought that the first lap would be the fastest and feel the easiest, since later on I would not only be more tired but I'd have that cautious sense of anticipation. Turns out I was wrong.
I started this lap at 12:45 AM and finished just before 1:30 AM.
Okay, this is not really T1, but my rest between lap 1 and 2. It's difficult to fit a race report of this nature into this rubric.
After finishing my first lap, I removed my wet running shorts, changed shirts, and sat by the fire with a towel wrapped around my nether regions to allow for a nice healthy breeze to dry things out before putting on more shorts. At this point in the morning, we were all still very lively. My teammate's wife kept the bonfire going, and I let my shoes dry out a bit. I kept my wool knee socks on, but let them dry out by the fire. I forced down a banana and ate a few wasabi and soy sauce almonds. That is basically all I ate the entire night until after I was finished. I couldn't believe how not-hungry and even not-thirsty I was.
I also rolled out my cramped quads and prayed they'd work for the next lap.
Okay, time for lap #2. I went off about 3 AM. Felt fantastic going up bear-climb hill. Felt better than lap 1 going up the second steep hill. It was quad-cramp city on the descents. It hurt so bad that I actually had to yowl in pain a few times. So, crab-walking it was.
Much of lap #2 was a repeat of the first, although I was not enthusiastic to climb into the cesspool again. Apart from the cramping, I felt pretty good. Still hadn't seen a bear, a snake, or a lonely redneck (and believe me, this is an area of TN where meth labs outnumber people). I was pretty stoked to finish at about 3:50, and thought to myself "Hey 4 in the morning is almost like real morning! Many deranged BT-ers will be waking up to do their workouts about now."
That's 2 hours and 45 minutes of rest.
Despite feeling good, this was also the time of the day when we were all getting groggy. The conversation by the campfire waned, and turned more into a "stare at the fire and try to stay awake." About 5 AM, when teammate #1 returned from his lap and #2 headed out, I decided to he'd to the car for a nap. I was getting cold and couldn't fight the urge to lie down any longer. I set my watch alarm to beep in 45 minutes so I would not have to have my teammates track me down, bang on my car door, and startle me into peeing my pants in my backseat.
Well, the raging thunderstorm came during this time. I didn't sleep much, but the lie-down was good. I called my hubby (who rises at 4:30 for work) and left a message saying that this is the one and only time I'd ever be calling at this ungodly hour. I vaguely recall saying something about how "this is hell" blah blah, but I think it was the tiredness talking, because not of this was really all that bad.
Still, the thunderstorm certainly delayed my going back out on the course. I still got out of the car at about 6 AM (still dark,) put on a raincoat, sloshed over to my wet shoes and gloves by the fire, and moseyed over to the shelter to touch base with the team. Almost all the teams were taking total break. Still, I felt guilty, and as the storm tapered off I got ready to go again.
Lap #3......and #4!!!!
As I headed out, it was still raining lightly. I removed my jackets (oh yeah, I'd changed clothes again - changed after every lap) but left my fuzzy hat on. I was indeed concerned about getting too chilled on this lap, as I knew I'd be wet from head to toe and the temp had dropped a bit, into the mid-50's F I would guess.
Up the first hill, it was distinctly more difficult this round than in the previous two laps. Of course, the driving rain had muddied things up a bit, so I had to really work at this one. Many instances of sliding down the hill....
But now comes my favorite part of the whole race. As I topped the second, looooong climb, I could see the dawn coming over the valley. Instant energy boost! As the lap progressed, I could see more and more of the trail ahead of me, and by the cesspool, I had shut off my headlamp completely! During this time, I also played leapfrog with a very nice young man who was competing as an individual. He looked to be about 18 years old, but was so encouraging and kind. We said the nice-jobs and "it's slick out here, isn't it?s" and it was nice to have a bit of company.
By the time I finished the lap, it was daylight! I felt absolutely incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I yelled up that I was going for a double! I dumped my hat and headlamp (glad to be done with that thing) and headed up the hill. My teammates and my other friends cheered me on.
Remarkably, I did not have nearly the cramping issues on laps 3 and 4 that I had on the first two.
This was the first rest break during which I changed socks. Gross, I know, but my DeFeet wool knee socks with purple pansies on them are the best socks in the whole wide world. My feet were not cold or uncomfortable the entire time. Still, after 8 hours and 4 trips through the cesspool, I thought it was due time.
So I changed socks, ate another banana, grabbed some coffee, and assumed my position at the fire. Quickly I became tired again, but there was no way I was going to sleep now. Teamie #3 returned and #2 went out with his wife (she was on another team and the coordinated their laps). Well, #2 took for freaking-ever on this life. I suspect hanky-panky on the course. They took almost an hour, twenty when in his previous laps he'd taken around 50 minutes.
I was hoping they'd return in time for us to get two more laps in. Finally, at 10:30, there were there.
Lap #5! I thought this would be my last lap. I was really happy at this point because I'd hoped to get 4 laps in over the course of the event and I had accomplished that. I went out on the course with a friend who was unfortunately only embarking on her second lap of the whole race, over 10 hours into it. She'd fallen ill after her first lap and had to spend the entire night in the tent. I'm really glad for her that she was able to get another lap in....that would've sucked to be one and done.
Anyway, we started up the hill, but then I had to slide down, scurry back over the campfire and grab my gloves, which I'd forgotten in the haste to get on the course. No way I was doing that without gloves. The extra traction they provided on the ropes were essential. So, I headed back, caught up with her, and could tell she was struggling up the second hill. I offered the advice "just put one foot in front of the other" and she said "yes, ma'am" with a smile.
During lap #5, I was definitely feeling the effects of the race. The rope climbs were getting harder (not to mention slicker as more people tore up the ground) and I had to walk sooner on the hills. Still, I finished strong and thought I was done!
But no! I finished lap #5 at 11:10 AM. The cut off to start back on the course was 11:30. I knew teamie #3 was done....his knees were shot at this point. I yelled up to teamie #2 "Hey, you gonna go out again?!?" He yelled back, "Hell no, I'm going out on my beer lap now!"
I paused for a brief moment, asked the RD,"so if I go out again, this lap counts, no matter how slow I go? " He said yes, and the decision was made. Out I went.
Boy, was I tired. I didn't even try to run up the second hill. I knew I hadn't drink enough. The aid table had run out of Heed an hour earlier and I didn't have water with me. So, here was almost 90 minutes with no fluids. Still, I knew I could make it. I'd just have to go more slowly. Turns out I wasn't any slower than before, just tireder.
What motivated me was a self-imposed game to finish by the official 12 noon end to the race (even though I would be allowed to finish after that). So, I picked it up. And I finished at 11:58 AM :) Felt so good!
Hosed off the tootsies, changed clothes for the 6th and final time, grabbed a couple beers, ate some taters, and relished in the experience.
Well, I would say the fact that you had to climb 1700 feet within a mile would do that. Also, my headlamp wasn't the brightest.
Dan has an incredible place and clearly loves what he does. I will definitely be back for more events at Outdoors in the Smokies.
This was one of the most enjoyable race experiences of my life! I made new friends, kept a positive attitude (like you BT'ers advised) and just had fun with it. I can't believe I raced a cumulative 4 and a half hours. That's like a marathon's worth of running! I am still sore a week later but still on a high from this race too.
Edited by Shop Cat 2012-03-30 11:38 AM
2012-03-30 12:31 PM
This user's post has been ignored.
2012-03-30 12:54 PM
in reply to: #4120961
Subject: RE: Fear the Reaper 12 Hour Endurance Trek
Our team finished 3rd out of eight teams with a total of 13 laps (I did 6 of those)
The winning team had an astonishing 20 laps.
2012-03-30 1:25 PM
This user's post has been ignored.
2012-03-30 9:59 PM
Subject: RE: Fear the Reaper 12 Hour Endurance Trek
Great RR. Sounds like an amazing experience. I felt like I was there. Great job!
|General Discussion-> Race Reports!|