This past week while working in Birmingham, AL I decided to get in some trail running in to mix it up and see what the course looked like for the upcoming 50K in March of 2011: Oak Mountain 50K Living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina does not allow this type of training or anything that closely resembles it!!!
The course runs from the base of the mountains up to Pivine Falls, on ward to Shackleford Point with a quick decent back to the falls and returns back to the trail head. The total elevation change over the 50K is 3900 ft. I ran two the course over two days totalling 44 miles (20 Miles on Tuesday and 24 Miles on Wednesday) The trails were marked extremely well and after spending a few days back in Oak Mountain I can not wait to come back for the race in March!
The course itself was very steep, well at least for me being that an average 20 mile run in Bluffton, SC for me has less than 8 feet of elevation change! On Tuesday I ran from the trail head up to the overlook of Pivine falls and then decided to run all the way down to the base of the falls on Wednesday.
Tuesday night was beautiful, mid 70's with a cool breeze. I ran with my hip pack, trying to give my arms as much of a break as possible and took my head lamp with me. At the turn around point it was pitch dark, with complete cloud coverage. My head lamp batteries died with 4 miles to go so I had to use what little battery I had left in my cell phone... that got me all of another 2 miles with light. Lesson learned: keep extra batteries in my pack!!!
Wednesday was over cast and rainy all day. Occasionally a patch of sun would pop it's head out and warm things up to the upper 70's. About three miles into the run the sky opened up and it POURED for the next 8 miles. If this run wasn't going to break in my new trail shoes, I'm not sure what will. I was sloshing around in mid-calf deep puddles and was covered to the top of my waist with mud. The trail was still just as steep and now I had to deal with the raging rivers that were flowing down the trails in addition to just the run itself. Fortunately, i love to run in the rain! It was a great break from my iPod and just be able to clear my head and run stride over stride through the woods and the rain!!! When the rain finally stopped I was on the decent down to the base of Pivine Falls.
As quickly as I got there, I turned around and headed back home. Now know the trail markers tracking system, counting down the miles was extremely easy (they had mile markers every quarter mile so I ran from #1 to #48) The sun broke out on my way home and the run was absolutely amazing!
I can't wait to come back in March to do the full 50K over this beautiful course!!! 4 mores weeks till my first Ultra!!!