Can't quite figure out what to say about this years race.....
.....was it a huge disaapointment?
.....was it a race I can be proud of?
It was really somewhere inbetween.
The Twisted Ankle course is hosted by RD Becky at James "Sloppy" Floyd State Park outside of Summerville GA. While much of the trail is very runnable and fairly good footing, Becky has designed a course that makes this both a great run and one that will put a serious hurting on ya!
Met up with Nils bright and early for the drive up. I'd had a tough few weeks at work and wasn't really mentally stoked for the run. But I always know my attitude tends to perk up when the race number goes on! Plenty of GUTS runners up representing both the half and the full marathons!
I'd had a decent race up there last year and was hoping for a good repeat. At the start line, I see the incredible Malcolm Campbell and ultra-stud Dewayne Satterfield lined up for the full marathon and I knew I was in for a tough day!
The course starts with a nice loop around a lake then it's time for the first surprise of the day......Becky's Bluff. It's an insane mile stretch that goes very sharply up! Needless to say, there are periods of walking required! I had started out with Malcolm and another guy running the half and soon both were out of my sites. At the top of the ridge, the marathon takes a sharp right and goes for a couple miles before starting a gradual but long decent back down most of the mountain where it turns around and sends you right back up. I got a good measure of how far up Malcolm was at this point and he was about 5 minutes ahead by mile 8 or so. I figured he'd take me by 20+ by the end of the race!
After a return to the place you entered the ridgeline, you go the other way out and back. This is where the trail gets really nice! Beautiful rolling singletrack for 3-4 miles before you are dumped out on a gravel road for a mile to the turnaround. Got another look at Mlacolm and figured I was not only about 3 minutes back......some excitement started.....could I find enough to catch him???
The return trip was nice since I got to see a bunch of friends on their way out to the turnaround......lots of good cheers going both ways! Nils told me Malcolm was slowing and that I was maybe 2 minutes back. I made it back to the top of the mountain in pretty decent time and the aid station folks told me he'd just left 45 seconds ago! It was largely downhill from here.....not my strongest suit but I was refreshed and ready to try to make up the 45 seconds!
Half way down, I came to a 5 trail intersection and stopped dead.....I didn't know which way to go! Panic sat in. I collected my thoughts and looked for markers. There....a blue flag! I set out and soon started heading up. I certainly didn't remember that from last year, but then again it was a year ago. After about 7 minutes I realized I was headed BACK up the mountain.....not good. Turned around and flew back down to the 5 way....but still didn't know where to go! I picked the next best choice and plowed forward. My choice was again incorrect and ended up on a road a mile later. I could see the finish, but I hadn't run the right course. Given that I still didn't know the right way, I headed towards the finish. Crossed the line in 3rd about 13 minutes behind the winner. and told the RD I had not followed the proper course....but that I had certainly run extra. Becky was kind enough to give me third anyhow.
Disappointed.....a bit. I really deserved a DNF but had more than earned 3rd. Happy with the effort....I gave it all I had!