West Virginia Trilogy 2013 Camp & Crew Report : Day Three

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. ”
- Walt Disney

Day three rolled around and we were almost used to waking up to numerous tent puddles. The four of us popped awake and enthusiastically greeted the day, and by “popped awake and enthusiastically greeted the day” I mean groaned and cursed the notion of movement.

We snagged some breakfast and as the girls got ready, I could sense a curious mix of weariness and giddiness. Their legs were pummeled, bruised, swollen, and cut from all the miles behind, but they only had a few more to go!

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West Virginia Trilogy 2013 Camp & Crew Report : Day Two

“I do believe that when we face challenges in life that are far beyond our own power, it’s an opportunity to build on our faith, inner strength, and courage. I’ve learned that how we face challenges plays a big role in the outcome of them.”
- Sasha Azevedo

The 50 mile story actually began Friday night. After the runners had logged their 50K, showered, and filled their hungry bellies, there was a pre-race meeting. These are not too common for road races, but fairly standard for long events 50 miles and above. They went over course markings, what to expect from aid stations, some notable warnings (such as barbed wire), and basically explained how they had marked the course. Anyone with grey matter was excited for the race ahead.

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Night Running With Sandy

When you’re in the middle of a night run, with only two of you, where there are bears, mountain lions & other creatures of the night, & your running partner yells: “RUN!!!” that is exactly what you do.

It all started when Sandy & I decided to do a night run. Sandy is pacing my friend, Deanna, at Rio & we both figured that it would be good training to get a night run in. We tried to recruit other runners, but there were no takers. In hind sight, we have learned that next time we wouldn’t do a night run with just the two of us. But we started the run, thinking that we’re not sissy lalas & that we’ve run at night before. As dusk fell, we started to see the glow of eyes reflecting from our headlamps, mostly just deer at first. We talked loudly, hoping that would let critters know we were close. There were a few loud rustlings in the bushes that got our attention, but for the most part it was uneventful for the first 8 miles…

About here is where we encountered a HUGE skunk. He was going the same direction that we were, & was in no particular hurry. At first we had a stand off, then he turned & sauntered on his way in the other direction. We followed, trying to keep him in our sights, so that we would know when he got off the trail. Evidently, this did not please Mr. Skunk. He turned & charged towards us at a rather fast clip. This would be when my running partner turned & yelled to me: “RUN!!!” It was pretty damn amazing how fast I could run with over 20 miles under my belt at this point. I would slow down, thinking that he had given up the chase, but Sandy would look back, & he was still chasing us. She would tell me to keep going. He finally gave up & we just stood there. We waited a bit, but he was still there. He charged us AGAIN. We took off sprinting…AGAIN. The chase ended once again. We gave him lots of time. We made lots of noise. Clapping, stomping & yelling a chant of: “Mr. Skunk you stink,” very original. We had no sight of him, continued cautiously, continuing our annoying noise making. We cleared the area where he had been, started to run cautiously, and congratulated ourselves on how our screaming, stomping, & clapping had scared him away. About a half mile later, we encountered him again. This time he was much closer when we saw him. I turned to run, tripped on a rock & fell down, with Sandy so close behind, that she ran into me & fell on top of me. Shit, we’re going to get sprayed!! We scrambled to our feet, & managed to escape him once again. We were about four miles away from our destination. We had to decide whether to turn around & do twice the mileage, or get by that skunk somehow. We went for twice the mileage!!

Our pace now is much slower now. We want to see as much of the trail as possible ahead of us. I took lead with a weaker headlamp. A couple miles in, we see some eyes on the trail, that are low to the ground, another critter! We can tell that it’s not a skunk. But whatever it is, he’s not getting off the trail. In hindsight, the was probably blinded by the light. It was an opossum. He got off the trail. By now, we are enough paranoid & freaked out, that we want the hell off the trail. We finally get a slight cell signal after a couple of miles we call our best friend in the whole wide world, Mary. We had parked our car at her house at the start of our run. She says that she can pick us up at Rattlesnake which will save us two and half miles on the trail. We continue running, still a couple of miles from Rattlesnake. With my dim headlamp, I can’t see very far ahead of me. We encounter another skunk!! He is much closer, maybe fifteen feet away. Oh no, not again. He is half the size of the other skunk. Sandy, ever the brave one, turns & runs away screaming like, well, a girl. I had to stop so abruptly that my feet just slid out from under me. I am on my butt, with the skunk coming towards me. I’m thinking that I am done for. He doesn’t know what to do, one of us is screaming madly, I’m sprawled on my backside blocking the trail, he avoided the entire situation and took off through the bushes. I’m yelling at Sandy to stop & come back quick while he is off of the trail. Whew, another skunk encounter safe escape.

I learned a couple of things on my first night trail run with Sandy. More than two people is a necessity for safety, we escaped with minor scares. In movies, when people are being chased through the woods, they always fall. This is true. If I ever get chased, it appears that I will be the one falling on the ground. If you are in a dangerous situation, don’t look for Sandy to defend you, she will take off, with her only concern her own safety. After encountering a mountain lion a couple of months ago, I found out that I am more terrified of a skunk. When you are on a run, and somebody yells “RUN!!!” you could be in trouble.