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Equinox Ultra (March 2015)

Posted March 22nd, 2015 at 11:13 AM by Black Spurs
Updated March 23rd, 2015 at 02:42 AM by Black Spurs

The Equinox Ultra event offers three races on some of the best trails in the South, in my opinion. Runners can choose the 50 miler, the 50K, or the 10 miler. These trails offer the runner lots of ups and downs and enough roots to be considered at least moderately technical. They are no joke.

I ran the 10 mile option today because I am not in particularly good shape for the other distances right now. Most years, this race coincides with the opening of our turkey season, which creates a problem for me. This year, the race fell a week earlier than our seasonís start.

I am not sure how many folks signed up for the 10 mile race, but we bolted out of the gate at 8 AM, an hour after the ultra runners. I started running up toward the front, but a couple of folks passed me early and moved on up the trail. I wanted to race at this race, so it was hard to be patient in the beginning. I started kicking in and got up to where I could see the leaders, who happened to be two kids. I knew one, and he is very good trail runner. I figured he had the potential to be the winner, but I planned to make him work for it. The kid running with him didnít really know what he was doing. So, I hung in 3rd place with another guy (who knew what he was doing) on my shoulder. And we rolled in a loose pack for a couple of miles on the winding trails that are shockingly hilly for what one might think about in Mississippi. We rolled so well that we all got off course. I figured that out pretty quickly (half mile or so), and I yelled for the two lead runners. They rounded a bend, and I turned around to get back on track. I would say we gave due diligence to get them to turn around, but I was running pretty hard to keep them in sight. Now, I knew I would have run even harder to get in position to be competitive in the race.

By the time we made it back to the race course, we had been passed by quite a few folks. I was about to panic when a little voice on my shoulder said, ďLetís just pick them off one at a timeÖĒ It was the guy, Charles, on my shoulder. So, I calmed down and started pushing, hard. We caught five or six runners and finally eyed the leader. He didnít know he was the leader because he didnít know we had gotten lost. Charles was faster than me, but I could tell that I was better at running the down hills. I was hoping that I could possibly break him with those, but they were not long enough or plentiful enough in such a short race. He went around me and started working on the leader. He smelled blood, and he left me. I had pushed pretty hard up to this point in the race. Finally, another guy got on my shoulder. I started to feel like I was the person everyone was going to use to advance in the race. I was okay with that because I knew I was a pretty good finisher, especially on the technical down that are the last mile or so of the race. So, they were taking a chance trying to hang onto me to pass at the end.

He asked me how many people were ahead of us. I told him there were two. He thought the two kids were still in the lead. I told him that the two youngsters had taken a wrong turn. He did not like that because one was his son. I reminded him that they were probably just fine because they had headed back to the start/finish area. We ran the ridges and bottoms (valleys) as fast as we could. The trail got extremely slick with mud, and it took quite a bit of concentration to run the gnarly roots with all that slick mud. Nevertheless, I ran all the small ups, hammered every downhill as hard as I could, and walked some of the steeper climbs. And believe me, there were some steep climbs, short but steep.

Finally, I saw the number 2 runner. He was on a switchback above me, and then he disappeared around the top of the hill. He looked down and saw us coming. We pushed harder. Just before mile 7, I was racing down a hill and could not get any traction. I slipped and slid like a car on an icy road. I took a pretty nasty fall and was immediately covered in mud. The language that spewed from my mouth was just plain foul and directed at myself. I had the second place runner in my sights, and I was wasting precious time by falling!!! Plus, I did not know what the guy on my shoulder was going to be able to do; he was a lot skinnier than me.

He passed me just before the aid station at mile 7. My legs cramped up badly when I fell, and I slowed down quite a bit for a moment. When I got to the aid station, I saw the 2nd and 3rd place runners. I never stopped. I yelled my number as I went through and passed #3. We had a small section of gravel road before getting back on trail. Number 2 was within striking distance, and he was aware that he was being chased. I had my doubts even though I could tell he was tiring; I was running out of race. I got on the trail right behind him and started trying to wear him down. He was still running the downs pretty well, but he was struggling on the ups. However, I knew I was gaining on him with my downhill running. I was feeling pretty good, but my quads were hurting badly on the down hills. I continued to blast them, nonetheless. I was hurting, but I was feeling alive. I kept chipping away at the space between us. I would occasionally see him stop and bend over with his hands on his knees. He would see me and start running again.

Strangely, even though I knew things were swinging my way, it would frustrate me when he would start running again. My legs were hurting. Just before the last aid station, I knew I had a very good chance. I was gaining ground on him on the up hills now. I could tell that he was a little unsure on the down hills, and I knew the last mile was mostly downhill and technical. I blew through within mere feet of him at the last aid station. I yelled my number, and the volunteer yelled, ď.7 left, Burke!!Ē

It took about .2 of a mile to catch him, but I caught him on a downhill that was strewn with roots. He probably figured I was going to fall and break a bone. He just stepped off the trail and I blew by. I never looked back. Ok, I did look back to see if he was coming. I hit the bottom of the hills and took on in to the finish line. I finished about 3 or 4 minutes behind the winner in 1:53, not too bad considering the trail, the conditions, and getting lost and adding a mile to the race.
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    WHW's Avatar
    Congratulations! I always enjoy reading about your running.
    Posted March 22nd, 2015 at 08:26 PM by WHW WHW is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Black Spurs's Avatar
    Thank you, Mr. Warren. Coming from you, that means a lot.
    Posted March 23rd, 2015 at 02:38 AM by Black Spurs Black Spurs is offline
  3. Old Comment
    cniccolini's Avatar
    Nice run. I have often considering writing about my races but I do not have the writing skills required for a blog.
    Posted March 23rd, 2015 at 08:58 AM by cniccolini cniccolini is offline
 

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