2003 Uwharrie 40 Mile
By Jaret Seiberg
A handful of VHTRC
members were among those surviving the Feb. 8, 2003, running of the
Uwharrie 40 Mile adventure race.
In John Dodd’s
speak, this would be a ``benign’’ trail, which as anyone
who has met John and knows about his vocabulary trouble should
realize means that it is a steep and pretty difficult run.
(For those unaware of
John’s troubles with terminology, you have now been warned.)
On a course that
already is ``benign’’, runners this year also had to
climb over numerous downed trees, navigate overflowing streams, and
retain their shoes in sneaker-sucking mud.
Though results had not
been posted as of mid-day Monday, I believe the top VHTRC finisher
was Bethany Hunter, who set a new women’s course record of
7:23:42. She was followed by Dave Horton.
Other Happy Trails
finishers – at least that I know of – included myself
(Jaret) in 8:23, Quatro Hubbard a few minutes later, and Kerry Owens,
who finished in 9:29. Also, Anita Walker was spotted on trail and
presumably finished. A should-be VHTRC’er, Karen Kreig,
finished in 10:05 I’m sure others were there. I just did not
write down your names. Sorry.
Actually Kerry would
have finished a bit quicker if she had not missed the final turn into
the finish line and instead ran down an alternate trail to the
street, where she approached the finish line from the wrong
direction. Though clearly announcing herself to the guy with the
stopwatch, the race organizers apparently did not record her as
finishing and were worried she was lost.
That is a legitimate
concern for this trail.
Much like Catoctin,
runners follow permanent blazes. All you need to do is stay on the
white blazed trail for 20 miles. Then turn around and run it
backwards. It sounds easy but many of the blazes need repainting and
telling the difference between a faded blaze and moss on a tree can
be quite tough, especially when there are multiple trail crossings.
At least one runner –
don’t worry Mike Gholson I won’t use your name here –
actually managed to run the course backwards for several miles during
the return trip. But hey, it was good MMT training for Mike.
For those who have not
traveled to North Carolina for this run, you are missing a great way
to get your butt into shape after taking it easy over the winter. The
course is located about 45 minutes south of Greenville and
essentially features 12 significant climbs in an out-and-back format.
Very little is flat
and it is 100% trail. Downed trees from an earlier ice storm still
littered large sections of the course, which made travel on some
sections especially slow. Last year’s drought – which
made all the stream crossings relatively easy – gave way to
rain in the days immediately before the race. The result: high water
in the streams and lots of deep mud in the low-lying areas.
This year featured new
management, which did an excellent job. The pre-race meal was in
Asheboro, a major step up from Troy. My motel this year actually gave
wake up calls as opposed to last year when I asked for a 5 a.m. wake
up call and the clerk handed me an alarm clock.
The temperature was
ideal for February – sunny and in the mid-40s for much the run.
After the initial five-mile stretch, aid stations were every three
miles, which made it possible to use a hand-held water bottle rather
than a CamelBak. My only complaint about the aid stations was a lack
of salty foods. Though pretzel were to be had, you can only eat so
many of them.
The race also features
a 20-mile option and an 8-mile option, both of which start after the
40 mile run. About a dozen of the 20 milers passed us on the way out
despite our 20 minute head start. They charged up those hills while
the rest of were walking.
On the return trip, I
was shocked by the amount of trash on the course. I have never seen
this at an ultra before. More than a mile before the aid station on
the return trip I started seeing trash. Though myself and other
runners were trying to pick up and carry his stuff out, some cups
were just too far off the trail or came late enough in the race that
I could not bend down any more to pick them up.
I’m blaming the
20 milers for the mess primarily because I cannot believe that an
ultra runner would do this. Also, on the return trip, I hardly saw
any trash immediately after the aid stations.
The end featured soup
and left over pasta from the previous night, plus bagels. As
afternoon approached evening, they even built a camp fire. The ride
home took Kerry, Karen and I about 7 hours, including the required
stops for mashed potatoes and Dunkin Donuts coffee and donuts. Any
run that ends with a stop at Dunkin Donuts is worth repeating. (For
those traveling back from this next year, take exit 177 of I-85 in
Raleigh and turn left to get to the Dunkin Donuts.)
Uwharrie Web site
will have results soon.
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