Here's a group photo taken before the start of the North Country 50 Mile Trail run....
These folks are smiling now but in a few more hours, all those smiles were gone....
My job for the day was to ensure that Sandy had everything she need to complete her 50 miles. I felt like a corner man for a boxer, with ice bag water and words of wisdom.
Well the words of wisdom
were more like 'keep running you're looking great'!
This was supposedly a relatively easy course(25 mile loop), as trail courses go but I didn't see one runner that hadn't taken a fall. One of our friends had fallen and thought she broke her arm, but she kept running(told you they were crazy)............
Being in the car gave me a chance to see the lead runners go off course early in the race. Since I didn't know the course, I couldn't tell them that at the time but they ran three miles off course!!!! Yeah, why not add some miles to a 50 mile race.
Here she is at the 13.4 mile mark, going through her drop-bag for personal stuff she packed. All I could go on was if she was smiling when I saw her, but who wouldn't smile when they saw me????
Sandy has an extremely high tolerance for pain, so I knew she would take her body further than it should and the temps were getting hotter as the miles added up.
One thing that I always knew but was much more evident out in the woods is that I'm an active spectator. I can't just stand and clap as the runners go by, luckily for them I brought my vuvuzela with me! If you've ever run the trails, it's nice to hear something that means you're close to civilization. One of the runners nicknamed me 'Gabriel' because
he knew when he heard the horn, he was close to an aid station.
Since the course was two 25 mile loops, what do you say to a person after they run 25 miles and they can see the finish banner but they have to go out and do another loop???? All I could say is, you're half-way done... now run like the wind!
Sandy was fortunate to be paced by two of our great friends during the first 25 miles and another was jumping in for the second loop. I could not believe that there were so many runners without support crews or runners to pace them. As I found out later, these were the guys that were truly suffering the second loop.
Sandy had been going steady the first 25 miles but at mile 30 she began to bonk. Now during these ultra events you need to constantly consume food and hydrate and I think she failed to take in enough nutrients during the beginning. Luckily I had Slim-fast and fruit that seemed to do the trick and she regained some of the energy needed to continue.
The miles were getting slower and slower and it was difficult to estimate when she would make it to the next aid stations, so I had a lot of time to blow my horn for the runners.
Fast forward to mile 43 and she was still running with a slight smile on her face. I knew this was the last aid station that I would see her until the finish. I knew from the determined look on her face that she would finish, it was just a matter of in what condition.
Not having run with her the entire day, a group of us went out on the course for the last mile, to run her in. As we waited, the runners were approaching with the same death walk/jog. The majority of these people were toast!!!!
Finally, Sandy came and our small group began the walk/run to the finish line. I'm sure it was an amazing sight for her to see the support that was there for her and the fact she only had a mile to go! Ah, the finish line smile..........
11:08 for first place in her age group(the second place female was over an hour behind her). I'm not sure if this will be her first and only 50 miler, but I am so proud of what she accomplished. What do you do after running 50 miles? Beer and a little ice!
Oh as a side note, remember the guy that ran 3 miles extra? Well, he finally caught up with the lead runners that didn't go off course. Here is the finish photo for a 50 mile race:
The guy diving for the finish line ran 53 miles and won the race.....
This is what a winner looks like.