The creation of the Delirium Ultra 24 Hour Endurance race began in April of 2011. Once the trail was dedicated, my original thought was "there HAS to be a race on this trail". Over the next few months I tossed the idea around in my head but did not begin working on the actual race plans until August 2012. When I pitched the race to Holly (my wife) her first thought was, are you going to get anyone else to come run it? I knew that I could get Paul & Gary and maybe a handful of other local Ultra Runners to come out and try their hand on the trail with us.
The approval process was fairly easy with the assistance of Matt Green with Buckwalter Place and Julie Bulger with the Town of Bluffton. I'm not 100% sure on the next fact, but we quickly announced Kayla as the race Director (can't remember if I asked her or she told me that she was doing it). Either way, she was the best person for the job and would later be Teamed up with her RD partner in crime Joe Devito (aka The Man!).
We officially opened up registration on October 1 and quickly sold out of 50 spots within 30 days. We late added another 15 and again was without an open slot by Thanksgiving!
Along with Kayla, I had Paul, Holly and Gary helping out as the months ticked away and race day approached. Before I knew it it was the week before the race and things were starting to fall into place with the awesome Team that I had.
I hulled out the Lowcounty Ultra's Camper Friday morning PACKED TO THE GILLS with race swag, finish line tents, blankets, food, water and everything else we would need for the 24 hour event. Paul was the first to arrive, followed by Gary as we quickly got the course marked and the finish line set up. Kayla arrived and gave us all the thumbs up before I had to dash off for a "Daddy and Me" Valentine's Day Dance with my beautiful daughter, Izzy. A quick wardrobe change in the camper and I was ready to go. Kayla and Paul headed off to set up Packet Pick up while Izzy and I danced the evening away!
Once the dance was over I kissed the family good-bye and headed back to Station 300 to help close out the evening. Once we got the light positioned Paul, Kayla, Gary and I sat around and chatted in anticipation of the following days events. I was the first to call it a night and headed in to finally figure out my own race. This was something that I had given very little attention up to this point. Once I had something that resembled a decent plan, I climbed into bed and Paul and Kayla soon there after called it a night too. Gary went home to sleep in his own bed (smart man!)
Morning came sooner that I would have liked after not getting much sleep, between dealing with the filling up the generator, pre-race nerves and just the fact that we had all out race gear sitting on the side of the one of the busiest roads in Bluffton.
It was cool morning, but not freezing. All in all, we have had a very mild winter here in the Lowcountry, and over the last week we have seen the temperature forecast drop a few degrees everyday. We decided that we were going to stop checking it as it was only bad news.
Packet pick up went smooth, Richard helped with the parking, we had a great team in place once Joe (The Man) drove up. We had a few quick words from the 21 Guns Team about their mission and was sent on our way by Lisa Sulka, the mayor of Bluffton. I was the last person to start the race as I wanted to catch the start on my video camera. I waved goodbye to everyone, gave Kayla a quick high-five and a fist bump to Joe and started out a long, slow journey.
The first few laps were just a blur. We had 65 runners spread out over the 1.7 mile looped course so I was able to see the extent of what we created just after the first lap. From the very beginning I was sure to keep eating and drinking. Early on in the race I was using a 10oz Amphipod Held-held bottle and would top it off after every 2 laps and would grab food on ever circuit. PB&J's were hitting the spot early on.
Before I knew it I had run my first 31 miles and was feeling good. My goal was to run 100 miles in 22 hours and at this pace I was slightly ahead of schedule. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't pushing to hard early on, but any wiggle room I could muster up without draining myself would be worth it later. The field began to slowly shrink after 4:00pm as the 6 hour race was now over. Holly decided early on that she was going to run 30 miles regardless of time and she did in fact finish her first Ultra! I saw the big red truck pulling out as I was beginning yet another lap, so I did not get the chance to congratulate her before she left. The wind up to this point had been brutal. Practically blowing people off the bike path over the .4 mile stretch at the end of each lap. I decided around 5:00pm that I would begin the long process of getting ready for what would be the coldest night of the year.
Kayla helped me transition out of my low cut socks and into my Swiftwick compression socks. I slipped on a pair of tights and threw on a lightweight jacket. My body was still feeling good at this points and I was doing an even better job of balancing my fluids and nutrition intake.
I cruised through the 50 mile mark just after 9 hour and felt like a million bucks. Night began to settle in the laps suddenly felt like they were starting to get longer and longer. I was able to meet up with Paul and Gary on a regular basis along with the other amazing runners out there, but sometimes it felt like you were the only person left out there.
At midnight I was at mile 66 and all the pieces were right where they needed to be. I had 10 hours to make it another 20 laps. I should still be able to make it without any problems... Until the temperature really began to drop. But 1:00am I had on every layer that I had with me. It totalled: 7 layers up top (A tank top, short sleeve shirt, 2 - long sleeve shirts, a vest, a jacket and a hooded sweatshirt) and 2 pair of tights and a pair of jogging pants on below. The temperature dipped down to 26 degrees with a bitter cold windchill factor of 11 degrees.
At 2:45 and after 83 miles I had to stop. My hands were frozen and my body was shaking uncontrollably. I decided to lay down for an hour and told Kayla to come wake me up. I did not get undressed, just laid down in the camper. In a blink of an eye, Kayla was telling me that an hour had passed. "I'm done" was all I could tell here. I knew what the words meant but I hurt and hurt bad. My body told me that I was done and that I was stupid for going back out in that cold. Kayla tried to talk me out of it, but there was no turning my head around at this point.
Kayla came back at 6:45am and I tried again. I got up. Got dressed. Walked barefooted to the bathroom because I was afraid of my shoes at that point. Everything felt okay once I started moving. I put my shoes on and headed back out onto the course. I knew that I would not be able to make the 100 mile mark at this point because my "run" was a better version of a slow walk at this point. Paul, Gary and I knocked out a few more laps together which was a great way to close out this adventure together. The clock was ticking down and I wanted to ensure that I got every lap as possible. At 9:52am I was able to start another lap. At this point I would be the last person to cross the finish line and I would end up very close to my goal of 100 miles. I finished with 91.8 miles after 24 hours of running (20 hours if you count my 4 hour removal from reality) and of course I had a mix of different emotions about that.
First, Excitement, it was further than I had even gone before and we had just put on a great event. Second, disappointment, I let my self quit and I didn't meet my goal. Third, relief, the race was over, I was still walking and nothing really felt "bad". I was an emotional wreck as Adam and Dan from 21 Guns, presented a medal to the wife of one of the fallen soldiers in which they were running in memory of over the last 24 hours.
One of the best parts of the race was the decision to have a pancake breakfast right when the race ended. My mom was manning the griddle and it was awesome to have her make those for me when I finished. Once the other other runner's packed up, it was time to shut down the Delirium Ultra 24 Hour Endurance race for another year and head home to begin the recovery process. The race was in fact a huge success and we are looking forward to making it even better next year. I was just glad that I was able to experience the race as both the creator and a participant. I choose the date based off of the Farmer's Almanac and they said that Feb 11th would be the coldest day of the year... and they were right!!!
Thanks for all the help and support to my amazing family and friends! I love you all.
I opened up registration for the 2013 Delirium Ultra 24 Hour Endurance Race on Monday night February 13th and we already have 16 people signed up for next year. We have had some great feedback on improvements for next year and look forward to seeing everyone again at the starting line!!!
February 9, 2013 10:00am - Delirium Ultra 24 Hour Endurance Race
See ya on the trail!!!