Beloved RD Terri Hayes was on a mission this day: She had had quite a bad race on this course, and was determined to wipe out its memory and replace it with a more positive one. We were equally determined to help her accomplish this.
Let me just preface this post with some info about the course:
"Laurel Valley Whitewater Ultra is not for the faint of heart. Claude Sinclair, self proclaimed leader of the Runner from Hell running club, conducts the Laurel Valley Ultra every August. It is a very tough and grueling course that traverses over 5000 steps and several major climbs on the Foothills trail in North and South Carolina.
Of course, that is the beauty of Laurel Valley, you have to finish. There’s not a way out, no short cuts or turns to get you off the course. Once you leave Rocky Bottom, S.C. you have to continue on until you reach the parking lot above White Water Falls. People do get into trouble out here. It is rumored that some participants slept on the course last year. There’s always the threat of snakes, bees, falling and a really good case of giardia. "
I should have realized what I was in for when we immediately began to climb single file up a steep set of wooden steps embedded into the hill. Ah, my first taste of the infamous "wooden steps" that climbed up and down, over and over again, all throughout the course.
There must have been thousands of them. They were mostly wooden blocks pounded into the steepest sections of trail to provide footing for the hikers and probably to prevent erosion, too. Did I mention the number of steps on this trail?
This Trail is simply amazing.
Highlights of the day are so numerous it's impossible to capture them here. But here's a short list anyway, in no particular order:
- The sheer amount of beauty we experienced.
- How time seemed to be suspended. We could have been out there 3 hours or 3 days. There simply was no sense of time.
- The amazing, clean, wonderful taste of the water.
- The differing trails- Wide trails, skinny trails and “barely-a-trail” trails. Climbs so steep you have to pull yourself up, and punishing (and I mean punishing) descents.
- The mysterious distance- no one knows for sure how far it is. I like that.
- Running the last part hard. It was definitely the most difficult terrain I've ever maneuvered. I felt really proud of myself for attacking it at the end.
- Seeing Whitewater Falls at the end- what a reward!
- Eating 3 of the best tasting bananas I've ever had with Sherrie Marie in her car.
- Feeling so privileged to have Terri to myself for long stretches of trail. Hearing her stories, benefitting from her wisdom. Getting to know her.
- The total geekfest I unleashed on Byron! Even I didn't realize what a Track Geek I am!
- The awesome comeraderie I felt with everyone, and how it was so easy to spend time with each person at some point during the day.