|The majority of the Richmond gang, Hurley rolled in a few seconds later|
My third finish at Promise Land was probably the best experience of them all. The first year was made “interesting” by ice rain and last year was rather rough on my constant running companion Emily due to some dehydration during the climb. This year, however, the weather was looking quite fantastic on the forecast and I had a challenging 50k a couple weeks prior to get me ready. Conditions were perfect for an excellent weekend.
I started the weekend Thursday morning after working the night before until seven am, plenty of time to make it to SeaTac for my flight at noon. Unfortunately, I figured I could get a couple hours of sleep before heading on out, and of course I overslept. Hopped in the car, drove swiftly, and was told I had missed my arrival window. With a bit of talk, I was told I could board if I could make it, but couldn’t check my bag (which had my tent in it, gotta love carrying that around the airport). So, I had my first race of the weekend, but made it to my flight and eventually ended up in Richmond around ten that evening.
|The start of Camp Richmond...|
|I heart you REI tent|
|This whole place was covered in cars and|
|tents in just a few hours.|
|Mrs. Egg Salad Sandwich herself, Martha Wright|
|Thanks for lending me your Thermarest Kyle!|
|Eagerly anticipating Horton's race briefing|
|Horton addressing the "class"|
Finally came the show everyone came for: Horton’s pre-race briefing. There’s something about the man that commands respect but puts people at relax right away. It is no surprise to meet so many of his students and Liberty students in general there, simply because he’s an inspiration to any runner. People wear the “unique” nicknames he gives them as badges of honor (such as Bethany being “Fat Girl”), and the rest of us are ever so slightly jealous. Most of his briefings go about the same way, he’s sitting on a table on top of a chair, goes down the list of rules that most of us already know from racing with him before, and all throughout he makes snide encouraging comments. This year he was big on the phrase, “now earn it,” which is the same thing he told me when I asked to have last year’s LUS jacket as my award this year since DNFing at Masochist.
|The college students were playing Frisbee and we were getting sleepy.|
|We visited the fire for all of five seconds.|
|Though it was warm.|
Four AM, and most of us were waking up in a mad dash to make it to the restrooms before the official wake up call at 4:30. I skipped the restroom as it only has two stalls and went straightway for the port-a-johns out back. After a refreshing morning void, we went to check in, but unfortunately Emily had forgotten her number, a fact Horton did not forgive. He bashed her a bit while we went back to make coffee/tea and her to get her number. As the time drew closer to the 5:30 race start, my coffee began to do its job and I made my way back for round two at the port-a-johns. The line was only about twenty people deep and we had all of thirteen minutes to make it through; no worries at all. I got in and rocked out my business (well done bowels, well done), making it to meet back up at the start with about a minute to spare.
|Emily's new Jetboil!|
|Waiting for the Jetboil to...boil...|
|Ahhhhh bagels. Luckily, I'll be back across the country by the time this picture is posted, well out of the way of her fists.|
Now came the actual fun, everything else had been precursor and well worth not reading. We start out on a short bit of paved road, barely at an incline and are trotting along to warm up. As we are starting, this is one of my favorite parts. We generally start near the middle/back and get to see a good number of our friends as we all scoot around to find our pace. In particular we found Hurley and hung around with him for a bit before moving on ahead. Of course Mark, Martha, Tim, and Kyle were way up ahead, but we also didn’t see people like Major Chris, Billy, or Nigel until a while later. As the paved road ends, the incline picks up slightly and we are running on gravel. Going on further, the gravel gives way to rocky single-track at an inline that demands us weaklings to walk. I’m sure there are plenty of people up ahead running all of this, but I know my ability, I know Emily’s, and we’re not about to blow all our energy at the beginning.
|This looks familiar from Terrapin...|
|My one picture from the day|
|Run run run! So fast she's blurry!|
|This may have been Horton attempting to run us down.|
|I see you Hurley...|
|Mr. Sean Cooper himself.|
|Likely the last time we saw Nigel till the finish.|
BUT WAIT! This is where Horton says the race really starts! And that may be true for those runners who are competing, the ones he’s really paying attention to. But for the rest of us, THIS IS WHERE THE RACE REALLY STARTS. Why? Cause after the 5k road run and a short climb up a hill…popsicles. POPSICLES! Last year they were rationing them out, this time they offered two at a time! We graciously accepted a popsicle each, even though I hate popsicles. Really I just wanted something cold because the day was starting to get warm. So we cooled off for a second, and Emily got her groove back. For the next four miles or so back to Cornelius Creek, she was on fire, running non stop and rolling through the miles to get it done. I didn’t dare say anything lest I break her out of the zone. Not even a few deep mud spots could stop her, she rolled right on through! The woman is a machine, don’t mess with her!
|No idea what happened to this picture...but it's kind of cool.|
|A very nice older gentleman actually got down on his knee to take our picture at the fall.|
|Sunset fields round two.|
|On our way to the finish.|
|She was this happy the entire race, promise.|
|Fourteen miles to go!|
|Well done Nigel|
|So proud of this lady.|
As we regained our strength, I showered and met back up with our Richmonders. The feeling all around was that this was a pretty amazing race and that the weather was the best in years. Indeed, Terrapin may be my favorite course due to its beauty and the time of year, but Promise Land is pretty awesome and I would be more than happy to earn a ten time finisher shirt.
We tidied up camp, loaded up the car, and headed back to Richmond. The lot of us were tired, sunburnt, and sore, but satisfied with our efforts. Over the past three months, I’ve made three cross country plane rides in order to run in the LUS and the Beast. I know that some of my friends would say its stupid to waste that money on a run, but what good is working and earning money if there isn’t something extraordinary to devote that to. For me, the Beast series is a goal I’m going to finish at least once, and three thousand miles won’t stop me. I honestly wish there were another Horton race before the fall, just because these events are the epitome of why I love trail running. As far as Promise Land goes, I’m ready for next year and will start training now. In the mean time, how about Grand Ridge 50K Trail Run next Saturday!?!?