Let the madness begin...the start of the Team Slug Booty Rumble 50K around Killens Pond in Delaware. Derek Hills (dual citizenship with Team Slug and the Rise Up Runners) leads the charge wth RUR's Lori Callahan and Mike Valliant in the mix. Photo courtesy of Team Slug.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...this contest will be for ten rounds with each round lasting 3.1 miles of runnable singletrack. The heat will climb to around 88 degrees and the humidity will make it seem worse. If it any time you become unconscious or your corner throws in the towel, you will probably be offered a beer, but you will not have completed the Booty Rumble 50K.
ROUNDS 1 through 5
Bob and weave...the first loop around Killens Pond we get our bearings, learn the course, as first Derek Hills leads the way, then relinquishes the lead after a re-routed trail stymies him. Beautiful course, open trail, some roots, some wooden bridges through muddy spots, running by some cabins, then by a boat ramp and a 1/4 mile of road before looping back to the check-in and aid station.
The Delaware Slugs are great people--ultra runners and ultra running enthusiasts, who have battle scars and stories from various races, and are friendly, gracious, and encouraging on the trail and at the picnic tables.
Pace seems easy, speeding up at times, and finishing each 5K loop in under 30 minutes. 10K in 55 minutes or so. Runners are spread out, but there are still a few of us running around each other. I start thinking greedy and say to Lori, "You know, if we keep this pace, we might finish in under 5 hours..."
Lori is more reasonable (and right), "And if we don't, that's okay too..."
Of the Easton/Rise Up Runner contingency, Derek has moved ahead a bit, and Lori and I zig-zag through the first three loops or so, with her quicker through the aid station, and me catching up to her on the trail. We're in the aid station at the same time after three, and I run four at a good clip to catch up, but wind up catching up to Derek, who says his legs feel like bags of cement. I'm feeling good, so I move on ahead. Turns out Lori had lingered a bit longer at the aid station to adjust gear. Finish loop 4 (20K) in under two hours. As I am leaving the aid station to start loop 5, I see her heading in.
Loop 5, still feeling strong, coming in under 2:30 for 25K. Half-way there. The shoes I am testing for Trail Runner mag have been rubbing funny, so I switch to a more trusty pair of Inov-8s I have at the aid station and my feet feel lighter. Legs feel good, stomach is intact, in the back of my mind, the 5 hour 50K is still whispering.
ROUNDS 6 & 7
Loop 6 is more of the same, though my mind begins to feel like it's in the rinse cycle--lap-happy and on auto-pilot, but still functioning and not screaming at me. Finish 30K in under 3 hours.
Loop 7 has me a little dizzy. Still running, but not strong. Man, it must be getting hot or something! Got some Shot Bloks down, but stomach isn't happy any more. Shuffle in for 35K, fallen off the pace of the previous six loops, but, hey, it's another loop in the books!
How'd I end up on the mat? The Killens Pond's Pondside Trail doesn't pack a wallop. It doesn't have a knockout punch. More of a glancing blow. What's going on?
Tank is empty. Stomach is on strike. Legs are not cramping, but the mind/body no longer wants to make them run. So I walk...most of the loop. I expect Lori will be coming by me this loop, and she does. She's fairing a bit better, steady, working with a 10:1 run/walk cadence. She's got momentum and pushes on ahead.
Dizzier. No desire for food, stomach won't allow any. It's a casual race. Most folks were doing a few loops, or the 25K. 40K is all I've got in me today. It's a fun run...and I am relegated to walking. I'll just walk the rest of this loop and call it a day. Drink some water, chill on the picnic table, wait for my stomach to feel better. Is it really a DNF on a fun run? I'm okay with a DNF...maybe...man it's hot...I'm done. I'll just get around the loop. Pick it up to a shuffle.
I pull in to the aid station and I'm done. No will to keep moving. I sit on the picnic table, grab some ice for the back of my neck and sit down. I drink a little water.
Fella comes over who'd run a few loops. Just ran the Skyline 40 miler the weekend before. Had to powerhike the last section because of stomach issues. Had thrown up for 35 miles at the Massanutten 100-miler before dropping. Didn't want two DNFs in a row, so made himself finish Skyline. Before that had ran well at the Umsted 100, but hadn't been able to get his stomach right since.
"Just two more loops," he says. "You can just walk 'em to bring it home if you have to."
I'm up. Sitting helped. The ice helped. Water for the last loop has calmed my stomach. I take an S-Cap and drop a NUUN tablet and ice in the water bottle, to make sure cramping doesn't become a factor. At some point while sitting, my legs found there way back. I'm running again leaving the aid station.
ROUNDS 9 & 10
For the second five loops walkers, campers, fishing folks have been laughing, shaking their heads seeing me go by again. Must be a sight! My legs are working again and I'm able to run. For less than another 10K now, I know my stomach will cut me some slack. A little trail weary, but passable. I finish loop 9 and tell the good folks at base camp I better do a "cool down" loop.
As I'm leaving the aid station, I see Derek coming in. "Last lap?" he asks. "Last lap." "Alright!"
Loop 10 is like 9--running, not fast, but running most of it. The road around the pond, past the public ramp is a welcome landmark, knowing it's pretty well finished. I find enough foot speed to make myself look like a runner again down the stretch to finish. Some cheers and a whole lotta smiles. 50K (31 miles) finished in 5:48. Lori is in already (and much quicker to recover), clocking in at 5:40, and not five minutes after I sat down, the cheers picked up as Derek came across the proverbial line in 5:52.
A little unorthodox for a race report, but I'm not sure what is orthodox about running 31 miles in the middle of June :) Team Slug, Delaware welcomed us with open arms and gave us everything we needed to gitterdun' on a hot day. An exceptional (and exceptionally funny and kooky in a good, ultra running way) group of folks, who know how to have a good time.
They've got a more holistic race report, and a bunch of pictures that sum up the day in images over on the Booty Rumble 50K race page. There's also a quick shout-out of thanks and congratulations to Lori and Derek on our Rise Up Runners blog.
Mentally, the Rumble was one of the more difficult runs I've done, not for the difficulty of the course, but for the ease of stopping at the end of every loop once you get tired! For me, point-to-point, out-and-back, and even a bigger loop, make for an easier race, even with tougher terrain.
Having said that, the experience was great. The people were fantastic. And I've stretched out the soul again to see what's in some of the corners that don't get used until/unless you push yourself past where you are comfortable.
That said, when ultra running and I cross paths, I think I prefer it to be in the spring, fall, or winter. Isn't summer supposed to be for vacations? ;)