Monday, February 7, 2011

Uwharrie Mountain Run Report!

Saturday started early at 5 AM for Hannah, my mother, and I to get ready to head down to the best organized and "fun" race I have ever run.   I took a quick shower, ate some breakfast, and then got antsy waiting on my crew to get ready.  I had a good night's rest the previous night, but I still kinda woke up in a bad mood, knowing that it would be raining at Uwharrie for the second straight year.

We left the house around 5:35 and I was trying to make it to the race as quickly as possible, but the rain just got heavier and heavier, keeping my speed to a bare minimum to avoid wrecking on the curvy back roads of Randolph County.  The forecast was for light rain in the morning, not for a torrential down pour with a few claps of thunder and lightening.  My mood was getting even worse.  As soon as we got to the shuttle area, I rushed out of the car to get to the bathroom.  My stomach was not going to cooperate with me for the second straight year it seemed.  After spending too much time in the pitch black porta-john, I had missed the shuttle and needed my crew to rush me to the start before check-in closed.  It was still pouring and my mood continued to get worse and worse.  What a "crappy" morning.  Upon arriving to the start, I was telling my crew "Let's just go home, I'm so upset right now," which Hannah responded to with a masterful tone "No we are not, your getting yourself out there right now!"  Needless to say, I got out of the car, signed in, and stood in pity under the drop bag tent with at least 20 other crazy people (not sure if they were standing in pity though).  A few of them I knew and some I knew of from WNC Trail Runner (Rick Gray, Brian Bedhun, Mike Mason, David Olsen, & Jason Smith).
About to start
At 7:00, the race director called us out from the safety of our tent to toe the line for the start.  She gave us some pre-run info, one of which was that the military was doing a training exercise and not to be alarmed by camoed soldiers carrying automatic rifles.  I finally laughed and felt my mood beginning to change a little.  On the count of "GO" we were off and on to the first big climb of the day.  I walked this hill last year, but managed to run up it quite comfortably this year, except for an extremely technical and steep 100 yard section that even the eventual winner was walking through.  At the end of the 1 mile 400ft ascent I found myself in 11th place and with only one person I could see behind me.  I thought to myself, "Not bad, your heart rate never even got close to 160 on that climb."

The first 11 miles were pretty much uneventful other than one bathroom break and a pull off to the side of the trail to empty my shoe of sand after a creek crossing (the creek crossings were deep this year, one was up to my waist).  I felt solid the whole time and was hitting my splits dead on, despite the two breaks which may have cost me a total of 5 minutes.  I mainly ran by myself from the 5 mile point to the 8 mile point and after the bathroom break at mile 8.5, I started to run with a pretty cool guy I met named Jonathan.  We were pretty much evenly paced so it worked out running together.

At the 11 mile aid station, I got caught up and he went on ahead and I couldn't catch back up with him until mile 16 on the toughest climb of the day.  The section between 11 and 15 looks pretty easy on the map, but it always kills me and I lose significant time on it every time.  Its a constant roller coaster of short ups and downs and you can never get into a rhythm.  On the climb at 16, a caught 2 more runners and found myself in 8th place.  At the 17.5 mile aid station, I passed Jonathan and was in 7th feeling strong heading into the turn around.
Coming into the turn around

Heading back out after taking care of business
 I reached the turnaround in 3:25:30 and immediately rushed to the porta-john to get rid of some more stomach issues.  I got a clif bar and a new full bottle from my crew and headed out right at 3:30, right behind Jonathan and right were I wanted to be to try and make it back in uder 7 hours.  Jonathan and I chatted some more and ran strong together until the climb again at mile 24.  He stayed close behind until the descent when I lost him.  At the base of the descent I heard someone coming up behind me and I thought it was him, but it was Anthony and he was looking strong!  The last time I had seen him was at mile 20.5 and he was heading towards the turnaround.  After he passed me, I was in 8th place and would never relinguish that spot for the rest of the day.
Coming into the 32 mile aid station.

By the time I had made it to the 32 mile aid station, my legs were feeling really heavy and I could tell I was getting noticeably weaker.  I had already dropped 7 minutes behind schedule to break the 7 hour mark.  The first 1.5 mile after the 32 mile aid station, I tried to push it to make up the time, but I was really just staying even at 7 minutes behind schedule.  At the 33.5 mile spot, I almost caught the 7th place person, but the ensuing climb that laid before us broke me and I never saw him again.  At the base of that climb, I was 10 yards away from him!  I was just completely gassed and decided that I would just try and hang on to 8th place.  My legs had no more speedy turnover in them to push the pace on the flats and definitely not enough to help me run up the hills.  I was reduced to a walk/stagger on those remaining sections.  On the final ascent 1.5 miles away from the finish, I saw the 9th place guy about 200 yards back.  I picked up the pace as much as I could tolerate and blazed down the backside to the finish in a super fast 9 minute pace (I am being totally sarcastic about the fast part).  I crossed the the line in 7:19:41 in 8th place!  Twenty minutes behind my goal, but I still placed in the top ten for my fourth straight race!  I feel pretty satisfied, and can attribute that weakness in my legs at the end to only being able to log one 30 mile long run this winter because of all the snow we've had.
Crossing the finish!
I had a great time again this year and the finisher award this year is just awesome.  Big thanks to Micahel Mahan and his son for making all of these for everyone!  I hung around after the race for about half an hour to talk to some friends and check on how they did.  I also talked to the race director about organizing a 100 miler in Uwharrie.  They said that they were really interested and for me to send them a proposed route and they would look into getting everything else together.  That would be sweet!  Thanks to all the volunteers who make this race possible, you do an outstanding job!  Also, HUGE thanks to my mother and Hannah for crewing for me for the second straight year!  They battled logistics and muddy roads to keep my bottles full and energy replenished.
Glad to be done
In parting, I really love this race,  but I think next year I might be running the Mitchell Challenge 40 instead of this one, but I will definitely at least be running the 20 next year.  This is one race that I just love being a part of, no matter what the conditions!

Check out the garmin info here: Uwharrie Mountain Run 40M


  1. Even though you did not make your goal time, you ran great in what I would say was pretty tough conditions with the mud and deeper creek crossings. This was my 4th year at Uwharrie and I love that race as it is just 40 miles of single track. By the way, you need to run Mitchell, but don't let Uwharrie slide for it. Mitchell is easier than Uwharrie and you can easily do both.

  2. We'll see how I feel in November Rick when registration roles around. I might be wanting to get under 7 hours again and who knows, third times the charm right? But as of right now, I think I might enjoy running the 20 at least once. Mitchell is a definite for next year though. Hope to see you on the trails soon. You coming out for Rattle My Heart?

  3. You will get that sub-7:00. You have alot of strong years ahead of you. I will have to miss Rattle My Heart. One day I am going to just suck it up and run it. February is a tough month and that is my one weekend off. Last weekend was Uwharrie, this weekend is Holiday Lake and then the last weekend is Mitchell. The following weekend is a 50k fun run up in VA, then a couple of weeks off before Terrapin and then the next weekend Umstead. Then Promise Land and then MMT. Just too many places to go have fun.

  4. Great run, 7:19 is awesome! I had visions of sub 8:00 when I hit the turn in 4:05, but that quickly deteriorated to 8:52. Wasn't my day from the start. I also would really like to do Mitchell next year, though I would miss Uhwarrie. It is such a great run!

  5. Wow Rick, that is a busy schedule! Where and what is the fun run your doing the week after Mitchell in VA?

  6. Hey, great report.
    I missed sub-7 by 5 minutes, and might try again next year.
    Looks like you'll have no problem with all the mountain running your doing.
    Maybe I'll see ya at the next trail race - anthony

  7. Anthony,

    Check out some of the fun runs we have coming up on These are low key events and they are free. Might help keep the race fees from going through the roof and the trails and scenery are spectacular. After yours and Shannon's results from Uwharrie, I don't think you would have a bit of a problem running these runs. Hope you can make it out to one soon.