On a whim, Whit and I decided to sign up for the Stump Jump 50k trial run late this summer. My Father and Step-Mother were doing this race and we had committed to going down for it, but it wasn’t until after the race had filled up that we decided we truly did want to race it. I called up an old teammate, Tim Hayse, located in Chattanooga (where the race was held) and he called in a favor from a friend who got us in. Thanks a ton guys!
So it was one month and only three short runs after Ironman Wisconsin that I found myself en-route to Chattanooga to have a go at my first ultra marathon. We got to Chattanooga on Friday afternoon where we had a great dinner with friends Jeff and Lori Davis as well as Sam and Jessica Miller. We were staying with Sam and Jess who have become great friends so it was nice for all of us to catch up together before the big day.
We awoke race morning to over-cast skies and then rain as we climbed our way up to Signal Mountain and the start of the race. It rained the entire morning as we sat in our cars waiting for the start. The wet conditions on a course that is described as technical with a “good dose of Tennessee stone” made for a last minute shoe change to my bulkier Salomon XA Pros. (good call).
The gun went off and Whit and I positioned ourselves in the middle of the 600 or so people running the 50k. It soon became apparent, that we’d need to move ourselves up if we didn’t want to get stuck behind runners when the trail went to singlestrack. Whit and I got separated by mile 4, but I made a surge and caught her again and we ran together until about mile 7, at which point I encouraged her to go ahead.
As Whit took off, I increased my pace and ended up catching two guys from Nashville who are friends of friends that I have in Buolder. The three of us ran toegther from miles 8-19 where I stopped to change socks and they pushed on. It was great to have company for that period of time and they were nice guys.
The race was great and novel to me as I am used to the hassle of swim-bike-run. Trail running is simple, run. I didn’t really feel the fatigue of the race until mile 24 or so, and that was when my feet became pretty sensitive and my stride shortened. I slowed but plugged along, taking breaks to walk the STEEP uphills when unnecessary.
I rounded a bend in the trail and could hear the announcers, but it was a false call as the finish was still nearly 4 miles away. The last few miles were the hardest though the terrain wasn’t bad. I’d been carefully looking at my watch because I wanted to break six hours. And with a half a mile to go I has 5 minutes… enough to make it but I couldn’t relax.
Hit the finish line at 5:58 completely happy with the race and the entire experience. Whit was there and I found out that she’d run down all but one of the women to finish second, awesome performance. We stuck around and chatted with friends until Dad and Mary Ann finished, and they both looked great!
Could be talked in to this again some day, and probably will.