AMAZING! One of the most fun I have had in a race. Ran 50K/31 miles through trails, woods, water, vines, picker bushes, you name it. I have cuts up and down my legs to show for it. I walked away with another awesome racing experience as well as a 3rd place finish in my age group and 5th female overall! Next year I fully intend on doing the Dances with Dirt 50 miler.
Our day started bright and early at 4am. Dad & I got dressed, brushed our teeth, loaded up our gear, grabbed a bagel and headed out the door by 4:30am. We stopped at Mc D's for some caffeine (coffee w/ cream) and hit the highway. I was obsessing over the weather. They were calling for rain, but when I checked it that morning, it changed! It was going to be dry.
We arrived to Halfmoon Lake at about 5:15am. This gave us 1 hour to park, use the the port-o-potty a couple times, find my dad's friend Mike and get to the start line. The three of us planned to run this thing together! Since sunrise was not until 7am meaning the first 5.3 miles will be ran in the dark. It was hard running through the woods on a technical trail with only a headlamp. Lucky for me, my dad and Mike were in front of me and would yell out things like "rocks", "roots", "step up", "step down" so I knew what to watch for. At the first aide station (water and Gatorade only) we were able to drop our headlamps and continue on. We ran another 4.95 miles to Hell Creek Ranch to the first fully stocked aide station. We're talking coca cola, sprite, water, Gatorade, oreos, fig newtons, pringles, Gu, bananas, orange, boiled potatoes, salt, etc... I had a volunteer fill up my fuel belt bottles and I ate 1 fig newton. I also grabbed an espresso Gu. I knew I would need the caffeine later on. The only thing lacking were port-o-potties. They had one, so we stopped for about 5-10 minutes while my dad waited in line.
We continued on for another 4.75 miles. This had one of the roughest stretches, flat ground. Seriously. When you get off the trail on to flat ground, you start to think of all your aches and pains. My hip hurt, my foot hurt, I had to pee... We came up to a fluids only aide station and I ducked behind a volunteers car to relieve myself. I filled up my water bottle and off we went.
This next leg is where we experienced the famous "butt slide" and "stripper pole". The butt slide is exactly what it means. A dirt path so steep you can't help but almost sit down and butt slide to the bottom. You run a bit through the woods and come to the "stripper pole". Basically you scale the side of a dirt cliff in the middle of the woods. Crazy!! I found a video someone made on you tube. You can check it out here.
We ended up going through not 1, not 2 but 3 river crossing and then had to make our way against current for roughly a 1/4 mile in a river to the 22 mile point. Here is a video from youtube of one of the river crossings and here is a short video of heading up stream. We climb out of the river at the 22 mile point. We had our drop bags at this location so we were able to change out of our wet gear and fuel up. We took a good 10 minutes driving off our feet, changing out shirts, shoes & socks and grabbing a few snacks off the aide station table. I stuck a Gu in my fuel belt, drank a shot of coca cola and had a handful of trail mix before we headed out for our final 9 miles. The last aide station was 2.90 miles into our final 9. I stopped at the port-o-potty, ate an Oreo (my first oreo in about 10 years!), sipped one some sprite and head out to a familiar trail, the Poto! We run this trail often so I assume my final 6 mile leg would be smooth sailing. Not so much. I was really starting to feel sluggish. I kept telling myself to correct my posture and watching my footing. About 2 miles in, I figured I better take a Gu. Again, I took one with caffeine. I wanted to make sure I could make it through these last 4 miles without totally crashing. I pushed on, thought of "pick me up" songs while frequently reminding myself to correct my posture and watch my footing. We came off the trail, crossed a road and headed into the parking lot of Halfmoon Lake towards the finish. All three of us picked up the pace and cruised to the finish line. Mike placed 1st in his age group earning him a DWD hat and DWD camp chair. My dad placed 2nd in his age group earning him a DWD camp chair and I placed 3rd in my age group earning me a DWD mug (also placed 5th female overall). Our official time was 6:16:56.
What an experience. Completely different from road racing. I loved it and can't wait to run more trail races in the future. I am really developing a love for distance running and trails. I will be running this event again, but next year I am moving up to the 50 mile!!
Once the professional pictures are available, I will make certain to share them with you all.