And the 2013 version promised more of the same. Both Mrs Notthat and I were signed up for the Half (this race completes my four-race requirement for the Brazen Ultra Half Challenge and gets Mrs Notthat to within one race).
|I REALLY like my shoes, but Nivek (not his real name) literally puts his on a pedestal.|
|Goldilocks and the three bears. (Picture by Ecinreb, not her real name.)|
Eventually we were off in a cloud of dust. Literally. The trails were very dry and dusty.
One thing that never changes are the hills. There are lots of long climbs that are mostly on exposed trails, which allow you to enjoy stunning views while slogging along. And to soak up LOTS of sunshine.
|The sun-drenched first aid station at mile 2.9.|
Another cool thing was that you could see a lot more clouds forming, which inspired some hope that we would get a few breaks from the sun later on.
A fun thing about this downhill is that it's pretty mild, which makes it easy to run with few cares while admiring the views.
Once you reach the bottom, you get to spend some time in the woods.
|There seems to be a tiny issue with the shade at this aid station. But the clouds seem to be compensating nicely!|
The brave volunteer paparazzi you see on the left took these pictures of Mrs Notthat and I coming through here:
|WAY perky Mrs Notthat.|
|Pretending to push hard to make the cutoff.|
|Done pretending. If I had known how close I was to the cutoff though, I would not have been this relaxed.|
Once you leave that aid station, you have some rolling hills to cover. Again, very exposed, but look at all those clouds!
|Drahcir (not his real name, who I had weirdly passed a bit earlier) flew by me as I stopped to take this picture.|
One thing I forgot to take a picture of is the bathroom that you hit at about mile 7. It's a little awkward to get to, but worth some trouble if you are needing one.
Once you pass that bathroom, you start on a very fun stretch of single-track trail that follows a creek that is always dry this time of year. That trail culminates in a wickedly steep, but short, climb where you find yourself grabbing tree roots and such to help pull you up.
That cliff climb signals the beginning of a long, fairly mild climb. About halfway up that climb I came across Chris Bliss, who was impatiently waiting for me to catch up to her. She pushed me up the hill to the next aid station.
|Photo by volunteer paparazzi.|
The fun things about this aid station were the bucket and sponge for cooling off (it wasn't all that hot out, but this still felt very nice) and the popsicles.
|Picture by Brazen volunteer.|
It was sad to leave this here, but since there was basically only a 5K left to do, it was time to continue the climb up that hill.
It takes a bit to get to the top of that last hill from that aid station, but eventually you get there and get to start down a nice long hill. And as a nice tease, you see the last aid station off in the distance. (In this case, you could actually hear it long before you could see it.)
|Two of the loudest aid station volunteers you will ever hear.|
This aid station also had a bucket with a sponge, but with two bonus things: There was ice in the bucket and there was a volunteer brave enough to squeeze a sponge on my head. That was an amazing rush and made that last 0.9 miles to the finish fly by.
|All that fun looking red stuff is poison oak.|
This was a first - the creek was bone dry. But there was a volunteer (with amazing stamina - I couldn't believe she was still there as late as I was in coming through here) taking great pictures of us as we came down the steps to the dry creek.
After crossing the dry creek you have a flight of stairs to go up, you make a left, and there you are - the finish!
I beat all the cutoffs (by not much) and managed to finish standing up.
At least I wasn't farting bags of ice like Lliw (not his real name).
Mrs Notthat finished hours before me, won an age group medal, and bought a pair of gaiters. And somehow managed to score a baby.
These two are so amazing. Today was their 26th anniversary, and they chose to spend it running an absurdly tough Half. Congratulations and way to go Oel and Ainigriv (not your real names)!
The baby's sisters were anxious to get their brother back from Mrs Notthat. (Wait until he grows up and excels at tormenting them - they will look back on this moment and roll their eyes very hard.)
And that's about it. This is a sneaky tough course that was made a lot easier because of the clouds. I didn't see any rattlesnakes (the guy who won the Half said he had to chase one off the trail) and didn't get to soak my feet in that creek near the finish, but I got two great sponge squeezes so I'll call it even.
That's it - move along…
PS: You can see more of my pictures here.