Posts Tagged ‘Ultra Marathon’

Race Report:                                                                                                                                                             The Swamp Rabbit Trail Urban Ultra                                                                                                                         50 Kilometer                                                                                                                                                               Oct. 4, 2014                                                                                                                                                           Greenville, SC

I drove to Greenville, SC on Friday before the Saturday race.  This would be my first 50 kilometer ultra in a long time.  I see the 50K as an extended marathon.  The 50K usually treats me like an extended marathon would…harshly.

However, I looked forward to this run because it would traverse a multi-use trail once it left the Lake Conestee Nature Park.  This would run through parts of Greenville and north toward Furman University.  It would be an out and back route.  Also, I was eager to run this because I DNF my last run, The Pinellas Trail Challenge – 46 miles, for reasons I don’t want to think about.

So, I stayed at a motel alongside I-85 upon entering Greenville.  I drove to the park to see how long it would take to get there and know what time I should leave in the morning.  It was easy to find.  I would just have to find the race starting area upon arriving, but that would be no problem.  Then, I drove north to see parts of the multi-use path as it passed through parts of Greenville and through some nature areas.  It would be fairly scenic most of the way.

After my exploration, I ate my pre-race meal.  That was the trusted Big Mac Meal at the world famous restaurant chain, McDonald’s.  With a full gut, I drove back to the motel for a restful night.  The race would start at 7:30 a.m.  The weather promised to be relatively cool with partly cloudy skies.

I prepared everything the night before and was ready to wake up and leave for the park.  I arrived at the park and quickly found the starting area.  There were plenty of cars already parked, so it was easy to find.  I checked in, got my number, and BAM!  I was blindsighted!

The clerk told me that the route had been changed from the multi-use path to be 100% within Lake Conestee Nature Park.  Now,  instead of the long out and back that I looked forward to, it would be five 10 kilometer loops, with most of it on nature trails and a little bit on the paved part of the Swamp Rabbit Trail.  There would be an aid station at the five kilometer mark of the loop.

I was extremely disappointed when I got this information.  I was depressed.  The reason for the change was that the city had closed a bridge over which the course ran.  Some construction on the bridge was the cause of the closure.  Luckily, they could modify the race to the 10K loops.  That would make race management a lot easier.  But, my mind was jangled with mixed emotions about this race.

Right off the bat on the first loop, I took a wrong turn.  Actually, I didn’t take a turn that I was supposed to take.  I barged straight ahead and eventually met runners coming toward me.  I made it back to the course after losing about 10 to 15 minutes.  Great start!  And, things would get worse.

I was chasing two runners that I could see up ahead.  I eventually paced myself to gradually catch up and pass them.  Then, later in the race, I learned that those two guys were ahead of me by a whopping amount of time.  But, they never passed me.  Something was wrong. 

They had taken a wrong turn like me, but theirs’ was a lot worse.  And, they never corrected their distance.  But, they got credit for the 50K with a better time than mine even though they ran a significantly less distance. 

Without the correction, the race management should have listed them at the bottom of the results.  Their names should have been asterisked with the distinction of running a short course.  That seems logical to me.  Obviously, the race management didn’t think it was worth while.  So, I was listed behind two guys who ran shorter.  Must be a swamp rabbit thing.

A Get Out Greenville festival was going on in the park while the race ran.  That added a little variety and excitement as the runners passed the start-finish area.  There were people everywhere.  A lot cheered the runners, some just wondered what was going on with those people, the runners.  Either way, the environment helped the race at that point.

I changed my race thoughts with the course change.  I went out slower than originally planned because of having to repeat the hilly trail course five times.  After the 50K runners were on their way, the 25K runners started at 9:00 a.m.  Naturally, the 25K runners ran at a faster pace than us 50K runners.  So, when they buzzed by me, I subconsciously picked up my pace.  I ran the second loop faster than I had planned.  But, it seemed OK.  I felt fine.

I felt fine until I managed to fall harder than any fall-while-running that I can remember.  I just ran a slight downhill and had the slight increase in speed.  At the bottom, my left foot found a root, caught it, and did not stride forward.  That put me in a fall while being twisted to the right.  My arms and hands didn’t make it out to break the fall.  My left shoulder, left ribs, and head broke the fall.  My ribs hurt then and afterwards through the rest of the race.  I thought I might have cracked one because it felt like my cracked ribs that I have had in the past.  My head hitting the hard ground in a whiplash fashion resulted in being dizzy and light-headed for about 15 minutes after the fall.  I walked a lot during this dizzy period in order to get my head back on straight.  Of course, I lost a lot of time to add to the lost time in the wrong turns.  And, this was the highlight of the race.

The day was one of great weather…not too hot, not too cold.  My 10K loops sped up as the race progressed, and I recovered somewhat from the fall.  For me, primarily a road runner, it was a hard course.  It was a hilly course.  And, when I was on the ground, it was even harder.

I finished in 6:28:03 and in 13th out of 14 finishers.  I managed to out kick an alien female who had two antennas protruding for most of the race.  Afterwards, I lay in the sun and enjoyed the warmth and the inclined position.  I watched the people enjoy the festival.  After some rest, I wobbled over to ride a geared peddle machine somewhat akin to a four-wheel cycle.  It even had an electric motor to assist with the start when the pedaling required a a lot more effort.  It was fun.

The race director spoke of having the event on this same course next year because it was so easy to  manage.  All the runners stayed in the park…not spread out all over Greenville.  If it is on the same course, the swamp rabbit will have to get along without me.

(Richard Westbrook)

             Richard Westbrook, ran the length of the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada (NV) consisting of State Road 375.  It starts on US 6 going east out of Tonapah, NV at Warm Springs, NV. The ET Highway ends at US 93 north of Las Vegas. The entire route is 100 miles of ET Highway. et-highway-and-area-51

along State Road 375, ET Hwy

along State Road 375, ET Hwy

Sites to take in along the way include the black (now white) mailbox as the only indication of Area 51 along the ET Hwy. In the town of Rachel, NV there is the infamous Ale-Inn where many people come to stay and try to spot some UFOs.

mailbox for Area 51

mailbox for Area 51

AleInn in Rachel, NV

AleInn in Rachel, NV

Richard claims to have seen nothing out of the ordinary, but who knows if he would really tell. I guess 100 miles is not enough distance to him for delirium to set in either.

The route ran on the Extraterrestrial Highway

The route ran on the Extraterrestrial Highway

“We have no proof, But if we extrapolate, based on the best information we have available to us, we have to come to the conclusion that … other life probably exists out there and perhaps in many places…”

                           Neil Armstrong, Oct 21, 1999

Season Westbrook

By Jan Westbrook

On Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 6:10 AM, 105 people began the grueling 100 mile race, the Keys 100. There was also a 100 mile relay which began 10 minutes earlier, and a 50 mile race which began at the 50 mile marker.  The race began in beautiful Key Largo, Florida, and continued down Highway 1 through the Keys, to the finish in Key West. Among those beginning the individual race was Richard Westbrook, 1965 graduate of Trion High School.

There was a meeting the night before to go over rules, give maps, chips to be worn for check-in points, and signs for cars. The crew cars had to have caution signs, the runners name and number on the car. Richard’s crew was his wife, Jan, daughter Season, and nephew Nick. The crew followed him, stopping every two miles to give fluids. The runners had to wear reflective vests and flashing lights front and back while running through the night. Just as darkness came, the runners had to cross the 7 mile bridge, where no crew could get to them. They lost a few more runners at the bridge.

The heat was a major factor in the race. 90+ degree heat during the day, with very little shade anywhere caused problems for many of the runners. Richard’s crew kept ice in a pack around his neck, and his visor dipped in ice water all through the afternoon. His crew helped other runners along the way with ice and fluids and even sun screen, which was an essential for runners and crews.

Early Sunday morning, as the sun came up and the heat began to rise, runners and crews were anxiously looking for that “Welcome to Key West” sign, and what a welcome site it was. That gave them the strength to go on, knowing it was almost over. Mileage signs started at 100 in Key Largo, and counted down to 0 in Key West. As those signs got small, the excitement grew, 5 miles, 4, and on to the finish.

Out of the 105 who began the race, 67 finished. Richard was 35th overall in a time of 26 hrs., 54 minutes. He won his age group of 65 & over, and his winning time beat the winning time of age group winners 45 and up. The finish was on Higgs Beach in Key West, and Richard hit the water when he finished on Sunday morning. His wife, Jan, was very proud of him. Her comment: “He’s my hero”!

Richard is a competitive ultra-marathoner, competing in races 50 miles and up. Last summer, he finished 6th in a 500 K race (311 miles), the Vol State Ultra. That took him 5-1/2 days. He ran that with no crew; all he could have was what he could carry on his back.

He has not missed a day running in 38 years, and will be competing in other ultra-races in the future. He teaches and coaches cross-country and track in Henry County, Ga. Richard and Jan have 4 children and 7 grandchildren.