Most of my friends and clients know that I am a little crazy. Outside of personal training and teaching indoor cycling, I have recently fallen in love with trail running and ultra-distance running. An Ultramarathon is pretty much anything longer than a marathon (26.2 miles) and more often than not takes place on trails. When "graduating" to the ultramarathon distance, the focus shifts drastically from only concentrating on miles and pace to incorporating more resistance and elevation in one's training.
Sometime late last fall, when I was still in the joyful post-race haze of having done the Goatz 50K in Omaha, Nebraska as well as a fantastic half-marathon on Thanksgiving, I decided to sign up for the inaugural "Quest for the Crest" 50K in the Black Mountains of North Carolina. The race promised very challenging, technical trails up to the top of a mountain crest three times; a range that is home to the tallest peaks east of the Mississippi and some of the most magnificent views in the southeast. Another promise made by the race director: This would be THE hardest 50K in the world.
Well, of course, I thought. Everyone wants to believe their baby is the best. The same goes for race directors and the events they plan and coordinate. Or personal trainers and the workout routines they design...
In the following months of studying topographical maps and taking the time to run in upstate SC on trails that might mimic what I would be in store for, I realized that this was not just another mountain race, but that I'd actually probably lose or break a limb, as the race director kept taunting us with updates like:
"I am so sure that you won't do this that I will be giving $500 to anyone who breaks 6 hours on the 50k"
"This should be one of the most technical runs you've ever done. If not then you must live in British Columbia."
-and my personal favorite-
"50kers, coming down Colberts Ridge it will be insanely dangerous. The first 2 miles is sketchy at best, wet rocks and roots. Seriously a fall could kill you. Please butt slide when you don't feel safe." (this would be the 2nd descent coming down off the crest)