General Discussion Race Reports! » Cruel Jewel 100 Rss Feed  
Moderators: k9car363, alicefoeller Reply

Cruel Jewel 100 - Run

View Member's Race Log View other race reports
Blairsville, Georgia
United States
Dahlonega Ultra Marathon Association
75F / 24C
Total Time = 29h 29m 56s
Overall Rank = 14/106
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

I've managed to write another novel of a race report. I do write these to sort of relive the moments for myself. However, for anyone who wants to read, I do think these reports give a good feeling of what these races are about, and there may be some good info for someone planning to take one on.

This was going to be a tough race. I knew it going in and in the end, I wasn't wrong. It was the hardest race I've ever done. Very few 100 mile races can claim the elevation profile of this race, and after experiencing it, it's no joke.

I left my house at approximately 3:30am to drive to the race. The race was held in the Chattahoochee National Forest in the mountains of north Georgia at the southern end of the Appalachian mountain range. It was an out and back course. Various sources list it as 106-108 miles with 96 miles of trails and 12 miles of mountain roads along with 33,000+ feet of elevation gain and 33,000+ feet of loss "just to keep it interesting." The drive took me approximately 13-14 hours, which is now the longest that I've ever driven to get to a race.

I did have some beautiful scenery on the way down. I drove through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountains. I also realized how beautiful Tennessee was. I'm from the northeast and pretty much had it written off as a nondescript southern state, but wow, the landscape was breathtaking. I decided that I definitely will be heading back for some camping and hiking.

North Georgia didn't lack in scenery either. It was late afternoon as I twisted along the mountain roads. Scattered thunderstorms rolled through the area. I didn't mind the weather then, but was silently willing those storms to keep on rolling. I did not want to deal with another mudfest as I had for my last 100 mile race.

I didn't have a set plan on where I would be sleeping. I had brought my camping gear, but hadn't reserved a site, and wasn't going to hike out for a wilderness spot. I had considered getting a room in some town nearby. My other option was to sleep in my vehicle. I have an SUV and can lay out fully in the back when the seats are down. I ended up going with the last option. It was going to be stormy at night, and it was easier than having to set up a camp. I found a nice spot near the lake in Vogel State Park, which was the site of the race start. I cooked my staple "night before race" chicken soup meal (which my wife so graciously prepares for me). I had a nice portion of white rice in the soup as opposed to the noodles that I usually have.

I ate my dinner and enjoyed the scenery at dusk alongside the lake that was nestled in the mountainous countryside. After my dinner, I set my sleeping mats up in the back of my vehicle and checked over my race gear.

I had my gear split up into five categories. Pre-race, carried race gear, drop bag one, drop bag two, and post race. I'll try to remember everything:

Pre-race gear: Sunblock, bug repellent, body glide, Leuokotape (I pre tape some areas that I usually chafe).

Carried race gear: clothes (shirt, shorts, socks, hat), trekking poles, Garmin 910XT watch, Patagonia Houdini shell (very small an light, packs into its own pocket!!), hydration vest (Salomon S Lab), shoes (Hoka ATR 2). In my vest I carried two headlamps (I could have put them in my first drop bag, but they weren't too heavy). A 50 oz hydration bladder. One 17 ounce soft flask in one front pocket, and Gu packs in my other front pocket. I had a reflective vest (mandatory gear since there was some running on mountain roads). I also had a small plastic baggie which contained a few Tums, electrolyte capsules, spare batteries for my headlamps, a small tube of vaseline, and a self-fashioned small roll of tape for emergency blister/chafing management.

Drop bag one (at approximately 26 miles and 80 miles) : shoes, shirt, shorts (in case there were any issues with what I had worn), pullover jacket, Gu packs, 2x energy drink, sunscreen, bug repellent, Leukotape, BodyGlide.

Drop bag two (at approximately mile 52): shoes, shirt (short and long sleeve), shorts , Gu packs, energy drink, sunscreen, bug repellent, Leukotape, BodyGlide, GPS watch number 2 (Garmin Forerunner 305 for after the batteries went on the first watch)

Post race: clean soft and loose clothes, soft socks, slippers, soft robe, and beer!!

After I checked my gear, I read a bit and fell asleep at approximately 10pm.

I woke up at dawn (approximately 6am). I ate my staple egg, meat, and rice porridge for breakfast (also delicious and prepared by my wife). I would have liked to sleep more, but was restless and excited. I moved my vehicle to a better spot right across from the race start/finish. I tried to relax as the race organizers began to show up and set up. Eventually other runners started showing up and packet pickup had begun. I got my packet, and the required GPS tracker. I dropped off my bags, which would be transported to the two drop bag locations. I went back to my vehicle again and tried to relax. Due to the odd start time, I did want to fit in some more eating and had some pasta salad at around 10am. I emerged at about 11:30am (30 minutes pre-race) after listening to Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" with all my clothes and gear donned, and all psyched and ready to go. I was going to run this race with trekking poles. I had trained with them, and with the steep inclines and declines of this race, I figured it couldn't hurt!!

The pre-race meeting was held about 5 minutes before the race start. It was short and amusing. It included pertinent information, such as, only dropping out at aid stations. And instruction, such as "If you get lost, don't call the police. If you tell them you are lost in the mountains, they will send a 30 person rescue crew. We will find you!!" Also, "if the GPS tracking doesn't work, no complaining!!! We don't know if its going to work!!"

Event warmup:

These events do not require a warm up! I moved towards the front of the pack. I did win my last 100 mile race, so I figured why not!! I didn't have any illusions that I would pull off a similar feat. There were some accomplished runners here. The eventual winner of the race had won the Barkley Marathons, and is one of the 14 people who had ever completed the course. And there was another runner that had several top 10 finishes at the Hardrock 100. I figured I would still go out with the top runners as long as it didn't feel like I was pushing too hard. I also did not want to get caught up in the bottleneck as the race went on to single track trails.

The beginning of the race, like most ultras that I have run was unceremonious and low-key. They pretty much say "okay....go."
  • 29h 29m 56s
  • 106 miles
  • 16m 42s  min/mile

I ran out with the top 6-7 runners for about 6 miles or so. Once we hit the huge ascent up Coosa Bald, which gains 2000 feet in 4 miles, I let them pull away. I decided I wanted none of that. I didn't feel in contention to get on the podium this race and didn't want to not finish because I went out too fast. I dropped back with another runner with whom I spoke for awhile. He had a few good finishes at Hardrock, had run Barkley a bunch of times, and told me about a race he did that is now on my bucket list. The Tor des GĂ©ants, a 205 mile race in Italy. It sounded amazing.

I am a decent runner, but was feeling a bit outclassed, so I again reigned myself in and made sure I was pacing properly. The next 20 miles or so were pretty uneventful. I was still feeling fresh and would grind up one side of a huge incline, and then run down the other. I probably could have moved faster on the descents. My downhill running is BY FAR my weakness. As usual, my form was terrible, and I was breaking too much and losing momentum(and this would come back to haunt me later).

I remembered reading in some article that one big difference with the elite ultra runners was their ability to run downhill fast. I get a bit nervous and don't want to get out of control or fall. When I get a good rhythm going, it's actually not too hard to move quick down a hill or mountain, and I feel it actually takes less out of your muscles if you can "run light and smooth" I have to overcome some mental barriers I guess, but if I want to move to the next level, I need to figure it out.

I hit my first drop bag at about mile 26. I tied my jacket to my vest since I would not hit the turnaround until 11-12 pm by my estimates. The weather report had the temperature dropping into the 40s overnight which could be cooler in the mountains, especially in the gaps. I restocked on GUs and was off pretty quickly.

I grazed a bit at the aid stations, but I had started using Tailwind and found it to be working well for me. So at each station I would fill up 17 ounces of Tailwind, grab a handful or two of solid food, refill my water bladder, and go.

Those first 32-33 miles contained the toughest ascents and descents on the course. The trail included the infamous "Dragons Spine" which lived up to its name, however, pretty much that whole portion of the course was tough. I recall commenting to a volunteer as I came out onto the road after those tough sections " When I write my race report, I really don't know what to say about all of that. We started out for 0.35 miles on the road, and then it was 32 or so miles of HARD." I think that still pretty much sums it up.

The next section was nice. I ran along the Toccoa River. There were what looked like vacation houses along the hills on the banks. There were several people out fishing, and I managed to click away a few 11 minute miles along the way. I crossed a pretty wooden-planked steel bridge and ran along until the road ran out and started climbing again up to the next section of trail. When I got to the Stanley Creek aid station just before the trail it was time to don the ol' headlamp and mentally prepare myself for running straight through the night. I also wore another lamp around my waist. I like the extra light, and think the two light sources helps bring out the contours more in the rocks of the trail.

There was a pretty good climb here which took us back up onto the mountains. It wasn't long before I hit the looped section around Deep Gap. There were a bunch of water crossings in this section, but I only got my feet wet once. Really only because I wasn't paying good attention. By the time I got back to the Deep Gap aid station for the second time they had busted out the ramen noodles. I decided to wait on it and reward myself after I went out and back to the turnaround at Camp Morganton.

After the loop it wasn't long before I was off the trails and onto some local roads. There was a big descent, dropping about 800 ft in about 1.5 miles along the road, and then it climbed back up towards the camp. I saw the leaders of the race at this point coming back up the hill. It was easy running going down. It didn't look so easy coming back up.

I got to the turnaround at Camp Morganton sometime just before midnight. The aid station was heated and indoors, which was nice. I had covered approximately 51-52 miles at that point. I got my drop bag, grabbed my 2nd GPS watch and reapplied some body glide. I decided to eat some of the ramen since I really wanted some at that point. It had gotten much cooler by then, it was probably in the 50s, but I decided it wasn't cold enough to put on any additional clothes yet. So my jacket stayed tied to my vest.

It seemed much colder as I left the turnaround coming out of the heated room and before long I was back out on the country roads. Every now and then a pickup truck would gun its engines as it passed, but beyond that it was pretty quiet and peaceful. Also, I really noticed the stars. I live in New Jersey. We have like 4 stars. There was a skyfull of stars. Stars on top of stars. And if I haven't said it enough, there were a ton of stars!!

Before long I was grinding back up that 800 foot now ascent, but I was actually feeling good. I was done stargazing, but my mental state was in a good place. I typically try to finish the first half of the race feeling pretty good, and I had succeeded. Then the first 2/3ds of the race I try to finish feeling "not destroyed." I figure after that, its just guts and survival.

I went around the Deep Gap loop again for the second time. I did feel like I was slowing down at this point (coming up on mile 60), but I was still having no issues. I had my only real wildlife encounter in this section. I saw I coyote trot out on the trail ahead. It looked my way, turned around silently and went back the way it came. I did grab some ramen coming out of the second loop leaving the Deep Gap aid station for the 4th and final time.

Here is where the race started getting tough. It was the middle of the night, and I had just come up a pretty big climb. Now, I didn't really study the back half of the course since it was an out and back and I figured it was just wold be same stuff going backwards. Well, I did recall a small out and back on the return trip which we didn't have to do on the way in. I really didn't know how long it was, or how difficult it was. So after I got to the turnoff and ran down a bit, I saw some of the race leaders coming up. Now I knew at this point that they had a pretty solid lead on me, so whatever was ahead, it was going to take awhile. This devilish little addition was about 6 miles, 3 miles down and 3 miles up dropping about 1800ft to the Weaver Creek Aid Station before coming back up. It was here that my downhill running issues got me. Part of the way down, my legs said, "yeah, we don't want to run downhill anymore." I told them, "well you have to, since we are still 40-50 miles from the finish line, and as I recall there is quite a bit of more downhill running to go." So at that point, I had won the battle, but my legs definitely harbored some resentment which would fuel their revenge later on.

The climb out took awhile, but my climbing legs were in good shape still. I did have some headlamp issues (like my last race). Through the night, I had my headlamp on the wrong setting and had used up way more battery than I wanted. I don't do the "all-nighters" during training that some other ultra runners do. I like sleep. I will get up pre-dawn to get some trail running in in the dark for experience, but I'm not running through the night if I'm not racing. I need to draw the line somewhere.

So as a result, I was not as familiar with my gear as I should have been and had to switch to using my waist light as my sole source of illumination. This would be ok, except that was pretty much dead too. I ended up taking it off and using it as a flashlight as I stumbled my way along the last section of trail before coming out to the Stanley Creek aid station and the roads along the Toccoa river.

On this return pass along the river roads I was moving slower than when I had come through, my 11 minute miles had moved up into the 13s. The sky started to lighten at this point. It was the coldest it had been all race at this point. My guess is that it was in the low 40s. But I still decided that I'd rather keep carrying my jacket then put it on. I enjoyed the beauty of the morning, but my dread about having to run the upcoming sections of mountain trail overshadowed the positive emotions and I was none too happy 18+ hours and 70+ miles coming into a long and brutal section of the course.

Before long, I was heading back up into the mountains along the Benton Mackaye Trail. My climbing legs were still surprisingly good, but when I hit my first descent, it pretty much felt like someone had beaten my legs with hammers. I didn't really know the names, or remembered all of the aid stations in this section as I blew threw the previous day. Now I was doing anything but "blowing through" them. They seemed MUCH farther apart than on the previous day.I had just left the Old Dial Rd. Aid station and had 5-6 miles to Wilscot Gap.

There were lots of mountains, and knobs, and Gaps. I wanted to run downhill faster, as I had done coming through the first time. On the way out, going up the steep ascents I was managing about 16-18 min miles, and 11-14 min miles on the downhills. On this return trip, I was moving downhill as slowly as I was moving up. It really was a catch 22. When I ran slow, and had to break, my legs hurt alot more. However, when I went too fast, there were times my legs felt weak and I thought I would end up doing a faceplant in the middle of the trail. So in the interest of keeping myself intact, I ended up going with the slower (and more painful) option.

I hit Wilscot Gap, approximately mile 80, and it had begun to get warm already. I got my dropbag and drank an energy drink. I asked a volunteer for some ramen, but it was so HOT. She was very gracious and said she could add water, I thanked her and asked if I could get some salt in it too. It was really bad, it tasted like salty melted Styrofoam (I think the cup had melted because it was so hot). But I was a trooper, I smiled, thanked her, and chugged it down.

Looking back I think these next miles were mentally the toughest for me. It was getting pretty warm, I had still a marathon to run, and I was moving pretty slowly at this point. Looking back at my splits, it looks like mile 86 is where I really tanked. My uphills slowed to 20 min miles, and my downhills were not faster. I was in a bit of delirium, and had a few minor hallucinations including a guy in a sleeping bag sleeping with his trekking poles leaning against him alongside the trail. And a really weird one where some blowing branches and leaves looked like weird green bubble people. I knew it wasn't real, but I couldn't unsee it. I think I was also a bit dehydrated here as well. I passed through Skeenah Gap, another aid station that I really had no recollection of the first time through.

When I got the the next aid station, Fish Gap, I was at mile 90 and in the middle of the toughest part of the course. This next section was the longest between aid stations (somewhere around 8 miles.) I think it was a father and son who ran the aid station, and there was some techno/dance music going on in the background. I started bobbing my head a bit to the music as I tried to eat and get some calories in me. I recognized that moment as the "dig deep" moment. What I was doing was hard, I expected it to be hard, and at that moment I was "in it." I recognized that moment as one where I had so show some grit, get my head right, and get done what needed to get done. I had to go earn my buckle!!

Physically, I can't say that I left moving much faster than I came in, but mentally I left feeling fine. I couldn't make my body move faster, but I could take all the pain and fatigue and pack it in a box, and throw that box somewhere in a corner of my brain where it wouldn't be noticed. I recognized that it was pretty nice out on the trail, I looked out over the gaps and mountains that I was crossing. Again I wasn't moving fast, but I was moving, and took solace in that.

When I got out of this section, I actually allowed myself to start thinking about the end of the race. I had one big mountain to go over, and then one more smaller climb and descent to the finish. The White Oak Stomp aid station had a map. It put me at 98.3 miles into the race. I recognized that I was in single digits to go and that gave me a big boost. I started looking at the time and calculating my finish. Going into the race I am still somewhat inexperienced, and I didn't know how I would do. I estimated that if I had a great race, I could finish in the 26-28 hour range. I didn't expect to finish over 30 hours. I was happy when I looked at my miles and knew I would come in under 30. With 8+ miles to go, and only one unmanned water only aid station between, I stocked up and then head out.

The climb up the backside of Coosa Bald is much shorter than on the way out. It is steep, but only goes up 600 feet. It was the downhill side that I was worried about. My downhill running legs were long past shot. I would have to descend 2000 feet on narrow, rooty, rocky, log strewn trails for 4 miles. I remember mentioning at the aid station that I could still climb, still run on the flat (not that there was any), but downhill was very, very ugly. But hey, two out of three ain't bad!

I would have to run downhill here, (and surprisingly I did!!), looking back at my splits I even hit a 16 minute mile (yeah I know, not great, but trust me, here I was freaking thrilled). At this point I just did math. I calculated the amount of distance I had to go, the amount of time I had to go, the percentages covered from various points. I wanted to be done!! I started to see some people on the trail (non runners) who had hiked up for the day, so I knew I couldn't be far. I crossed through the unmanned Wolf Creek water station.

Before I had left the last manned aid station, I remember one of the volunteers saying "once you get to the road, you are home free." So I kept looking for that road. Once I got there, it was less than a mile out of the last section of trail. I hit the road, and before I knew it it was rounding the bend and could see the finish. I didn't sprint to the finish and throw my hands in the air. I pretty much just trotted under the arch and thought, "wow, that was hard."

As with the start, the finish of these races are pretty low key. I finished, got my buckle, shook the hand of the race organizer, and was done.
What would you do differently?:

During the race I could have managed my hydration and salt a bit better. I had a few episodes of dizziness, dry mouth, and headache. I found myself trying to play "catch up" with my drinking and at times I was a bit bloated.

Outside of the race, I went in to this overweight. I was 15 pounds heavier that my race last year. Part of it is that I've been going to the gym and doing a bit of upper body work, but I can't deny that I've been eating a ton. My wife has gotten on a baking stint. And I just cant say no to cakes, cookies, brownies, and muffins!! (the muffins are so good). But realistically, if I want to be faster, I need to cut the extra weight.

I still carried too much stuff. I carried my stupid jacket for 80 miles. I need to not worry that I "might need something," and start to plan and bring only the things I know I WILL need.

Last, but most importantly, I need to get my legs good at downhill running. Partly I need to get more confident, but I also need to get out and train on some good hills and just bomb them fast and build strength. I have a 400 foot hill about a mile long with some good steep sections along it not too far away. I need to get some repeats on it regularly. Some people can hit technical descents fast and confidently. I cannot, so I need to work on technique and coordination as well. I could have had a much better finish time if I would have run the second half of the race downhills well.
Post race
Warm down:

I went back to my car and took a hobo shower. I used the water from my cooler and some wet wipes. I changed into all of my comfy clothes and went and ate a few tacos and chatted with the runners

After hanging out at the finish for awhile, I went back to my vehicle and passed out for about 2 hours before my soreness and hungriness woke me up. I went and had more tacos and beer!! I remember walking out across the road in my slippers and robe, holding my beer, and looking like some staggering drunk escaped mental patient, but no one blinked an eye. Partly because of weariness, but also because I wasn't actually too out of place. It was pretty amusing. I went back to bed at about 1am, and slept fitfully for another 3 hours before getting up and deciding to start the drive home. The drive home was easier than my last 100 mile race, where I made the dumb decision to not sleep before heading out. But I was still pretty exhausted.

When I got home, I managed a 2 mile run and kept my running streak from Oct. 2012 going! (FYI it hurt alot).

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Downhill running!!! I'm too fat!! Hydration issues. Carrying too much stuff.

Event comments:

This was a tough race. It does require a qualifying 50 mile race, or a previous 100 mile race.

The trails were pretty and overall very well marked. I would be hard to go off course.

The aid stations were nothing special, but they had the necessities, and the volunteers were great.

I would greatly recommend this race to experienced trail runners who have done 100 mile races before.

Last updated: 2016-05-19 12:00 AM
29:29:56 | 106 miles | 16m 42s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 14/106
Performance: Good
Course: An out and back course with 96 miles of trails and 12 miles of mountain roads through the North Georgia Chattahoochiee National Forest. The race quickly went off road in less than half a mile and followed the Coosa Backcountry Trail, which eventually connected to the Duncan Ridge Trail (aka the Dragons Spine), then to the Benton MacKaye Trail, then descending to Shallowford Bridge Road. This first section of the race was TOUGH. There were countless knobs, gaps, and mountains. It was pretty much up and down steep ascents and descents for the first 30+ and last 30+ miles of the race. In the middle of the out and back you got a brief respite with some pretty rural roads along the Toccoa river with a pretty crossing over an old wooden-planked steel bridge. The next section started with a pretty tough climb on the Stanley Creek trail which merged with the Benton MacKaye Trail. There was a loop in this section which went over a mountain. After the loop, the trail continued on emerging out on the roads to the turnaround at Camp Morganton. The "back" portion of the course was the same, including the loop, however there was a tough 6 mile out and back thrown in. It was about 3 miles down, dropping about 500ft per mile, and then back up. The beginning and end of this race was the hardest, but overall this is a tough, tough course. There were plenty of rocks, roots, and logs, however nothing extremely technical. Luckily there was almost no mud, and the rocks were pretty stable for the most part. There is not much flat running on this course, it is pretty much up or down, and can be very steep at times.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2016-05-19 1:54 PM

Subject: Cruel Jewel 100

2016-05-20 5:29 PM
in reply to: #5182701

User image

New user
Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Cruel Jewel 100

Wow! Thanks for the awesome write up, I really enjoyed it. I especially can relate to things like trying to put all your pain in a mental box, sleeping in a car and post race hobo showers. I also especially enjoyed the part about hobbling around in a robe and slippers with a beer. Well done!!


2016-05-22 5:53 AM
in reply to: #5182701

User image

West Palm Beach
Subject: RE: Cruel Jewel 100
Wow! Congratulations!

Amazing. This seems incredible to me.

I really enjoyed reading your report.

Happy running!
General Discussion-> Race Reports!
General Discussion Race Reports! » Cruel Jewel 100 Rss Feed  

Oil Creek 100 Trail Run - 100 Mile

Started by carrie1
Views: 1741 Posts: 5

2012-10-26 4:42 AM sbrdave

Oil Creek 100 Trail Run - 100 Mile

Started by wolchr
Views: 1126 Posts: 1

2012-03-26 7:21 AM wolchr

100 on 100 Relay

Started by akustix
Views: 1157 Posts: 2

2007-08-30 10:10 AM jcagg90

America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride 100

Started by oipolloi
Views: 1084 Posts: 8

2007-08-04 2:33 PM BbMoozer

Old Howard 100 Bike Ride

Started by stephen strange
Views: 1255 Posts: 1

2006-04-22 8:33 PM stephen strange
date : August 15, 2013
author : JeffY
comments : 0
JeffY reviews this rear water bottle carrier on a variety of saddles.
date : February 1, 2012
author : XLAB Hydration
comments : 2
Less drag than frame bottles