I opted to run the John Dick as a training run, just to get in the miles, and to spend time with friends.
Temps were good - 20s. Wind was present but we were mostly sheltered from it. Trail conditions were tough. Though it wasn't the hidden ice we had last week, we had grainy loose snow, it was like running on the beach.
The John Dick is a 10K loop course. Feel free to do as many loops as you want. Very low key, relaxed event. This year, like the last 2 years, was run on the Moraine Ridge horse/snowmobile trail. Start and finish at the John Mackay picnic area. Run down to the trail. And out and back to the west/northwest, and a shorter out-and-back with a loop to the east. Manned aid station at the east end, unmanned aid station at the northwest end.
By loop 2, I was ready to be done, and didn't know if I could finish. Just plain tired. My running friend Dennis really wanted to do the whole thing. If he weren't there, I am sure I would have bailed. But when the 2 of us run together, often we are like a couple of silly giggling schoolgirl BFFs, and this was definitely one of those days. So, I opted to keep going.
We ran a bit with fellow Armelian, Neighbor Jim, but couldn't keep up with him. He did great. His first ultra and he looked strong the whole time!
We saw lots of familiar faces many times, which is also lots of fun, including local ultra legends: Mary Gorski, Tom Bunk, Robert Wehner, Paul Gionfriddo, Christine Crawford and Kathy Rytman.
Loop 3 was definitely the biggest stuggle for me. Once you get that one down, mentally, it gets a little easier, and I started to feel a little better.
As we finished loop 4, I could have definitely called it a day. But Dennis was determined to do all 5. He iterated "I am pretty sure I could find my way by myself." Uh, yeah. After doing this loop 4 times, and seeing all the footprints that the course has gathered over the last few hours, most folks would be able to do this. But Dennis' ability to navigate a trail is just about as good as my ability to talk about football. Prbably even worse, God bless him. Last year, we did the Scuppernong green loop about 100 times, and he still didn't know which way to go at the Ice Age crossing. So, figuring that runnning the last loop with him would be much easier than leading a search party for him, I opted for that last loop.
I only looked down at my watch occassionally, and did make note of the fact that we were nearly last. At our last trip to the manned aid stations, there were only 2 lonely bags left at the bag drop. The volunteers seemed in good spirits, which seemed to be directly related to the beers in hand.
We got done in just over 7 hours. When we arrived at the hut, we received a very warm welcome as the whole place cheered. Think they were drinkin too. Keep in mind, the finish line is the doorway. You open the door, and every one cheers like you are walking into a surprise party.
Shortly after we arrived, 2 more folks finished, and we were able to do the cheering. And those were the only 2 after us.
We enjoyed some food and beverages and chatted with Jim. Ashley Kumlien, the young woman who will be running across America starting next month, joined us also.
As fatigued as I felt, this is going into the books as one of my favorite runs. Seven hours of running with Dennis included many silly conversations. Several times laughing so hard I had to break stride. As we neared the end, lots of high school humor at how slow we were running, and speculating at what the headlines could be for the recap. I will let you figure them out.