16 December 2017


One of the most scenic spots along the race course.
 This race report could be called "A fun 50 miler with friends to finish out the year" or "The things you will do to get a Yeti jacket". I added this race to my 2017 calendar pretty late in the year. I had planned to take a full 4 weeks of from running after finishing the Everest Trail Race (which I did), but was still talked into signing up for the Lookout 50 Miler just 2 weeks after that extended off season break, which meant that I would toe the line completely undertrained or as we like to say, well rested or tapered.

Lookout Mountain 50 was new to me, so I was able to stay true to my new mantra of trying to sign up for races I hadn't run before. Paul Morris, Jerry Abbot, David Holiday are guys I often train and race with and since all of us had already completed our goal events for the year, we all took this one on as a social race to have fun and hang out in the woods together. I had only run a couple of times since my extended break, so I knew I would struggle with the distance.

Paul and I travelled to Chattanooga, TN together kate Friday afternoon just in time to ake it to the race packet pickup at FleetFeet Sports to get our bibs along with a couple of pints of complimentary IPA before we'd head over to our hotel and a pre-race carb meal at Mellow Mushroom.

Pre-race hydrating and carb loading...all in one single step:-)
I ordered the vegan calzone and washed it down with a couple of local pilsners before Paul and I headed back to our hotel to get our race kits ready. 5:30AM would arrive early and the forecast called for seriously cold weather, so I laid out way more clothes than usual, especially considering that I would not actually "race".

We all arrived at the race start atop Lookout Mountain at Covenant College with about 30 minutes to spare. We decided to huddle inside our car until it was nearly time to start the race. I had a bout 5 minutes to look for and say hallo to familiar faces and friends at the race start before the four of us lined up pretty much in the very back of the field.

The race started very slowly, but before we knew it we were in the middle of a long train of runners shuffling down Lookout Mountain on single track trail. Just as well, I was racing and I knew I'd struggle late in the race, so I might as well take it easy early on. We continued our shuffle down the trail, chatting about races that had been and races we were signing up for in 2018.

Slight stomach discomfort had me looking forward to mile 20, where I knew a line of porta potties would be waiting. Thankfully, we (I) made it to mile 20 without incident. Mile 20 had us back at the start/finish area, where the 20 mile runners (and 50 milers a bit later in the day) would finish the race. We continued on to start the 30 mile out and back/loop and part 2 of the race. I was actually feeling extremely well at this point. Unfortunately, that changed as quickly as I had that thought.

By mile 26, I had started to struggle. Right hip issues turned into knee issues turned into achilles issues. Mentally, I was doing great, but my long break from running ad finally caught up to me. Thankfully, I was in great company as Paul and I continued to stick together for the entire duration of the race with David having had to drop at mile 20 due to sinus infection and Jerry slightly ahead and Jeff slightly behind us. For the most part, Paul was either pulling on pushing my ass along the course and that certainly helped a great deal. Then again, there was no way I wasn't going to get to that finish line. My biggest issues continued to be the colder than usual temps. It never did warm up during the day or at least not much.

Every aid station was a welcome sight and they were staffed by amazing volunteers and with fantastic foods. A couple of shots of Fireball and Whiskey during the race ensured that I would not take the race too seriously. After a long long day, Paul and I finally heard the welcome sound of the finish line. It had turned dark a couple of hours earlier, but the finish area was lit up with strings of lights, guiding our way.

Before I knew it we were back in Pauls car and headed back home. I am glad I was able to run this race with a bunch of friends and without the self-imposed pressure of racing. I was rewarded with fun conversations on the trail plus a race t-shirt, a finisher's medal and a nice half zip sweater.

Thanks to Wild Trails, Randy and Kris Whorton and all of their awesome volunteers for putting on a high quality event. The course was well marked and the aid stations well stocked. I can highly recommend this event. While it has 8000ft of vert, it is still a very runnable event which would be enjoyable for both first timers and experienced ultra racers.

Glad to get this one done to close out a year of amazing adventures with friends, both old and new!

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