A Hard Lean Horse

It beat us up bad, no opinions to the contrary.  Everyone has blisters and muscle problems and we are all hobbling around and making those long groaning sounds when we stand up or sit down.  Mean and brutal are the common assessments of the Lean Horse experience for the HURT team members. 

Unpaved road, should read concrete like infinitely hilly and windy nightmare on the out and even more so on the back, where the elevation cross section must be from last year as the reality just didn’t fit with the web site.  And ‘trail’ should read ‘Very hard packed gravel and substrate railroad right of way.   Maximum 4 percent grade, slow turns, and hard—did I mention how hard the surface was.  Well let me tell you, if it were any harder they would be mining the damn thing for diamonds.   Hard has some deeper meaning up here in the Black Hills

The Black Hills is another story.  Beautiful is the word on one everyone’s lips.  The Native Americans, the Lakota, who lived here, thought of it as a spiritual retreat, a rest area, a heaven for the living.  It is special.  It is enchanting, and soothing, and endlessly interesting.  Great gray and black rocks jut out of the ground, sprinkled with pines and poplar– Rocks that rise hundreds of feet into the air with spires and dykes, and towers and buttresses, all filled with sparkly minerals, and a life of their own.   The Michelson Trail, i.e. the rock hard old railroad right of way, winds through this enchanted land.  And if we were not all hurting so bad as we pushed down the trail, we would likely have enjoyed it even more.

The highlights,   Steff and Cat More were heroines.  Truly fantastic first time 100’s.  I ran with both.  Cat and I spent hours together as my IT band turned into twisted steel, and she battled the first timer’s nightmares.  She never gave up.  Often pulled me along, and always seemed to just be ready to go on and on.   Just amazing.   Steff was bothered by a right ankle problem that turned ugly.  Joel had it wrapped when I saw it, but it was a massive red bruise around her entire ankle and a testament to her will to finish.  Again such courage is hard to find, even in our group of achievers. 

Bob Murphy led the team with a 22 hour plus performance.  He ran this race on his own, no pacers and almost no company.  Any references to Murphy’s whining and whimpy reputation have been proven false.  Cheryl wasn’t there to goad him on in person but I’m sure Bob was hearing echoes of her encouragement.   Bob passed me long before the turn around and he was looking great. Of all the HURT runners he seemed the least effected by the hard surface, though he too was pretty beat up by the end.

Mike and Patricia ran together the entire way and finished in 27 plus.  I ran with them on many occasions as our paces were very close until the last ten miles.   Patricia never wavered in her determination to finish well, and Mike kept moving on despite the toll the ground surface took on his body.   

Tom Craven had a good first half race and finished the 50 in just under 12 hours.  I ran the entire race thinking he was ahead of me and trying to run him down.  It wasn’t until later that I heard the hard surface took a heavy toll on his body and he was forced out beyond 75 miles.   It was a difficult course and the heal toe required over hard ground was not something we were prepared for.  I’m hoping the injuries are minor and that he will be back out there this week-end.   

Joel ran the 50 K as I believe did Mae.  It was no cinch. The Argyle road was a hard surfaced dirt road that had ups and downs without end– a beautiful country drive, but a nightmare to run.   Both of them volunteered to do aid after their races. Joel was a friend to many runners with his attention to blistering and foot problems.  Mae took over much of the Race finish time duties.  Robert, Cat’s husband, volunteered for a late night shift at an aid station.  My apologies to anyone I missed.

I finished the race with a 26:57.  I went for it in the last eight miles.  My feet were so beat up that I didn’t figure it mattered anymore.  I had finally battered my left IT band into submission and it decided to wait until I went to bed before coming back to give me hell.  I’m feeling a bit better on Monday morning but still very very sore.

The people who ran this race were very nice and caring.  Any complaints I might have had were very minor.   It is a most doable race, but one which need plenty of road time for preparation.  I would recommend it to those who want to add a 100 to their list. Come with time to see the Black Hills.   The race buckle is a real beauty.   

Thanks to Jerry and all his crews for making this a very good experience–harder than we all thought it would be,  but well worth the effort.