Ok, this marathon was one of those last minute deals. We're all blaming Lushanko.
"Hey, there's an awesome trail marathon in 4 days, sign up!"
"But I haven't run since Grandma's!"
"Awww....you'll be fine. Eric T. is coming! C'mon, I reserved a campsite!"
Man am I dumb! How dumb I am became increasingly clear after I convinced J-Stamp to sign up for this as well and he posted the trail profile on Facebook.
But...whatever, you do all this training for the exact purpose of being able to sign up for a marathon a few days beforehand and run it without specifically training for it. Normally I'd say such behavior is a little irresponsible, but I've already done 3 marathons this year, and ran a pretty good 4:22 at Grandma's...so how bad could Eugene Curnow be?
We arrived at Jay Cooke state park on Friday, and let me tell you, that place is a revelation. After going there, I am kind of left scratching my head and wondering why people take trips to far off corners of the world. The park is actually beautiful, with a raging river running through the center which has carved out a labyrinth of spectacular rock features (many of which we'd have the opportunity to run through).
Soon after we arrived, Eric noticed that he, Lushanko, me and J-Stamp were all born in 1975! Edling would have been excited to hear that since I think he mentioned that was one of the best years of his life. Those of you who can do math now know that we are all spry young 25 year olds! I hope none of my buds regrets too much giving away our age.
The start time for this event was 6 AM, and we loaded up onto the bus at 4:30. After a hilarious forty five minute routine about how school buses don't have seat belts...our driver eventually took us to the start. We got our numbers, pinned them on and BOOM, the race was off.
The trail started off fairly wide with a few washouts. We climbed up the ski hill and were afforded a beautiful view of the city getting lit up by the morning sun. Lushanko, of course galloped off like a madman, and J-Stamp dropped the hammer as well, so Eric and I were left to bring up the rear (which was according to plan).
About 7 miles in, Eric decided that this would be his last trail marathon. The terrain was so rocky that you really couldn't run (at least I couldn't, the guy that won somehow managed to maintain 8 minute miles). We crossed boulder fields, repelled down ridges (seriously, they had ropes tied to trees), and crossed several rivers.
At first I didn't like the river crossings, but I soon found out it was really refreshing to get your feet wet. When that happened I started looking forward to dunking them in even when I could avoid it.
Even with all these obstacles, the competitors who knew what they had gotten into kept talking to us about "the power lines." That turned out to be a series of mud walls like this:
Oh, and it's not like there was just 1 hill like this. There were a series of 10 or 15, with maybe 2 or 3 that required you to grasp for weeds on either side of the trail and drag yourself up on your hands and knees.
Eric didn't really delight all that much in the mud, and at one point he slipped and went face first into a patch of something that looked a lot like poison ivy. He was a little grumpy for about thirty seconds, but there's a reason Eric has done 59 marathons, and he quickly righted his mental ship and talked himself out of the dark place (plus he had me along which always makes the day seem better).
We mainly walked and finished in 8:15. I enjoyed the day, but this event is no joke. It's sort of like a Tough Mudder...but for actually tough people (and it doesn't cost $175, and they don't hit you with cattle prods). My wife met me at the finish line and I crossed in the company of the two pretties girls I've ever met:
Another great day in the books! It's good to have friends who motivate you into signing up for ridiculous endurance events like this! Knowing what this event is all about, is it likely that I will do it again? Hmmmm....well, nobody ever accused me of being smart.