Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chattooga 50K Recap - Lost In Paradise

The Chattooga River 50k took place Sunday June 6, 2010 as part of Terri Haye's Ultras on Trails race series.

I was really looking forward to this race. I knew I was in for more of the great comeraderie her races offer. It was also a chance to reconnect to some new trail friends and finally, this race seemed like an excellent opportunity to actually meet several blogger friends such as Georgia Snail, The Sean, and The Guz. In hindsight, I am so glad the race represented more of a social opportunity for me than it being a race I had specifically trained for or had race-specific goals for.

Here's how it all turned out:

That's right, folks- I got LOST! About 2 miles past the first aid station, I did just what Terri told everyone not to do - " not cross the wooden bridge, do not go to Burrell's Ford."
To my credit, I DID notice that I was about to cross a wooden bridge. I stopped, turned around and retraced my steps, but could not find where the trail I was on had any other option to turn. PLUS, I did see John Locke a person waay down on the trail ahead of me. So, there's that.

About 6-8 miles later I find myself in the Burrell's Ford parking lot, thus ending my entire race experience. Well, not exactly- I will say this: I was having a great race experience up to the first aid station. The race starts with a downhill out-and-back section, and going into this race, my main goal was to maintain an even level of exertion. I was doing a good job of running an even effort here, and not letting the fact that I was walking up the majority of the hill get to me.

I think the biggest disappointment I felt was simply missing the great feeling you get after accomplishing a task as great as Chattooga.

The "non-racing" part of the racing experience was great, though. It was a great trip.
Here's how that went:
Leopold and I arrived at the Cherry Hill campgrounds at about 7:45 on Friday. The first person from the race we encountered was Dan Hartley and his family. They got to the campsite next to ours about 90 minutes later. By then, it was actually raining a bit.

We had all of Saturday to relax and take in the sights, so Leopold and I headed off to get some breakfast and explore. We were told about Stump Hill Tunnel and Isaqueena Falls, which were just a couple of miles away.

Stump Hill Tunnel

We hit Stump Hill Tunnel first. I have to say, the tunnel was pretty awesome!

As you approach it, you read a little of the history: The tunnel was blasted right before the Civil War for the railroad. However, the War broke out and so the tunnel was not finished.

After the war there was no money, so there it sat. Later, a Professor from Clemson University discovered that the tunnel's 56 degrees with 85% humidity year-round temperature is the perfect conditions for curing bleu cheese.
We went back to the campgrounds to get our flashlights, but we really needn't have. The tunnel was much shorter than we thought, and we ended up walking through it a couple of times- once with lights, and once in the dark.

Isaqueena Falls

A short walk from the Tunnel puts you at Isaqueena Falls. We walked all the way to the bottom and spent a couple of hours enjoying and playing in the Falls.

It was a very pleasant and fun afternoon. We people (and dog) watched, and took our time climbing back up to the car.

In closing, Chattooga was a great experience. I feel very fortunate to have met new friends in Dan Hartley and his family. I was thrilled to meet Thomas Armbruster and the lovely Holly, Sean Dunlap and Brian Guzik in person. And it was just downright awesome to see Terri, Jason, Charles, Sam, Byron, Lester, Sherrie Marie, and so many others again. It was especially nice to be back "early" and be able to see people finish.

Here's some photos I took before the race, and some I took as people were finishing.

A BIG congrats to the overall winner, Sean Dunlap.
He finished in 4:32, taking more than 30 minutes off his time from last year!

Sean Dunlap, Terri Hayes

Early morning StarTrek Convention featuring Sean Dunlap and Thomas Armbruster (Thomas would later have his own personal version of the LOST story!)

The amazing Guz in person! A definite contender for Best Race! Brian ran waaaay under 8 hours (7:23??) in his FIRST Ultra!

Bringing it home- Charles Raffensperger. Definite contender for the "Making Psyche Feel Better About Getting Lost" Award! Thanks, Charles!!!


  1. I think you were sand bagging a year you will set the women's CR....

    Great to meet you, look forward to seeing you at Long Cane....

  2. Love your John Locke comment! So sorry you got lost though! But you made the best of it and have a good attitude.

  3. Hi Psyche,
    You are so hard core! God, I love it...I can live my long freaking trail runs through you:) I love the pictures and think that the waterfalls is breathtaking! Sorry about getting lost:( Lucky you...getting to meet Sean and Thomas! Congrats on a fantastic finish!

  4. That stinks about getting lost. There were a couple times at Enoree that I lost the trail and had to hunt around. Nothing as drastic as what happened to you Sunday tho. Sorry it didn't turn out like you had hoped. Enjoy your Roan Mtn. adventure. I looked it up and that sounds fun. Just not something an old geezer like myself would tackle.

  5. Sorry you got lost, but you've got an amazing attitude! Glad you and Leopold ended up having a great time anyways.

  6. Great meeting you finally!! Sorry about your little adventure off course, but you certainly have the right mind set and made the most out of it. Next year - Chattooga is yours! Thanks for the kind words in the write up - it was an amazing experience. Hope I can come close to duplicating it sometime.

  7. Psyche, you're such a positive person! I know in reality you were just secretly reconnoitering the route for our next adventure run! Glad you and Leopold had a fun weekend together and thanks for waiting around for some of us "late finishers". Next year we'll be struggling to hang with you I'm sure. The chuckles we all shared on the winding stairs trail were priceless :)

  8. They say you're not a "real" trail runner til you get lost! Happened to me last summer! Congrats on a great race. You look like you were just breezin right through :)

  9. I'm glad that you at least went off course on a beautiful part of the trail! That was a tricky intersection and it could have happened to anyone. We will make up for in soon enough and run the entire river! Wooooohooooo!

  10. Great report - just awesome. It looks like you had a LOT of fun before and after. Although, you DID get lost....

    That is awesome that you were able to meet up with everyone. (and I agree - sean is amazing.)

    BUT - I was a little disappointed that you didn't have any pictures of cheese in the tunnel. What a let down.