My first 50k “run” was more like a mountain death march. The designated course for The Big Schloss 50k was often an obstacle course at best. The topography was almost enough to make me cry. I actually had to rock climb at one point. There were very few wide, relatively smooth and foot-worn stretches. The course was mostly rock-strewn single track. My choice in most portions was either to bounce from rock to rock or to pick my way through them at a walking pace. The more difficult sections were radical inclines. I had to hike up the steep sections and try not to kill myself while flying downhill.
Last night I learned that the results had been posted. I finished in 9 hours and three minutes. It was a respectable time given that it was my first effort. My friend that finished in 7:48 posted a 9 hour finish his first time out. At least that is what he told me. Maybe he was trying to make me feel better.
Still I feel good about the run and my position in it. My goal was merely to finish and I did. So did 54 others. I finished an hour and a half ahead of the final two finishers. There must have been quite a few drop outs because they wrote the number 65 on the back of my calf.
It amazed me how quickly a bottle-necked pack of runners could turn into a more isolated experience. I was all alone for almost the entirety of the last leg. I finished strong (the last half of the last leg was over merciful terrain) and flew past one runner with 3 or so miles to go. I was motivated by an extreme desire to stop running. I ran fast to the finish just to get it over with.
My fiancée and another friend were volunteering at the aid stations. When I saw them at aid station #3, my fiancée told me I looked like hell coming in and she was worried about me. “Are you SURE you want to do the last leg? It is eight miles more…” I wasn’t quitting. I might have crawled if I had to. Wait, I actually DID have to crawl up the rock-climbing portion of the trail. Halfway through the last leg I began to think that it would never end.
The finish line was at the pavilion hosting the after-party. After I found my people I marched back down to the lake to take a dip. The cold water felt great on my hot legs and feet. I had worn a few blisters in my feet but they weren’t too bad and I hadn’t noticed them during the run. They were open and the pockets of skin caught water in them as I swam. Several other runners were wading around cooling their legs as well.
I got a few beers and some hot food at the finish. No t-shirt, no finisher’s medal, no schwag at all, and I think that is great. The memory of the views and my triumph of will is better than any trinket could ever be. Would I do it again? I signed up for another 50k within a couple of days of finishing my first. I guess that answers the question.