GEORGIA DEATH RACE 68M - Amicalola Falls to Vogel State Park, Georgia
March 14, 2015 - A humbling beginning to the outdoor season this year, for sure, I
was able to cover 54 miles of this event in about 14 hours before bringing an other-
wise enjoyable day to a close.  Due to circumstances beyond the control of the
Race Director, Sean "Run Bum" Blanton, the course route was reversed during the
week leading up to the start, which itself was delayed until almost 0830.  All maps
and profiles were flipped in the eleventh hour with course alterations to satisfy the
very overprotective environmental thinking of the local forest service.

I had encountered this previously from the same starting area at Vogel State Park
last season with Cruel Jewel.  Speaking with Sean following the event, he was
obliged to divert runners onto 25 miles of mostly forest service and country roads
to avoid any potential damaging effects from runner traffic on the originally
planned 25 miles of singletrack trail due to recent rains. So, as it evolved, the race
started with a run up the stairs along Amicalola Falls, circling back down to the
entrance of the park only to climb back to the head of the falls before heading into
the back country on groomed forest service roads.

Parking at the finish at Vogel State Park most of the 270 participants rode an hour
and a half on school buses on winding Appalachian roads to reach the start.  The
weather was seasonally mild with intermittent rain and drizzle with temperatures
ranging between 50 and 60 degrees mostly.  I had serious concerns about boarding
the bus for the ride to the start after waking from a restless night feeling extremely
dizzy from a sinus infection. I felt lousy and should have bailed.  But I was there
and not anxious to defend any lame excuse for not doing this.  I boarded the bus
and immediately ran into Leo Fung from Calgary.  Catching up before we headed out
was a good distraction from my worries.  Things were fine until the bus started up
the mountain back and forth on hairpin turns.  Dizziness turned to nausea and I
was rifling through my pack looking for a plastic bag to upchuck into if necessary.  I
really didn't want to mess up the bus for the poor driver, so I opened a window,
sucked in some fresh air, and really focused on not losing it.  With only a light
fleece, I was soaked from a feverish sweat.  Great, I thought.  I was committed.

Mind over matter, I went into a medititative place that I reserve for escape and
seemed to completely check out into an alpha/theta zone for maybe forty-five
minutes.  When I roused from my slumber, all symptoms of misery were gone.  Call
it personal magic.  I was ready to race.

The young twenty-something lady I stopped with after 54 miles agreed that had the
race begun at the scheduled 0500 instead of near 0830, we both would have 
continued the mere baker's dozen miles to finish.  Given the late start, there were
just more miles than either of us wanted to hike in the dark just to bag a finish.
So, into the drizzle the field headed for a quick ascent of near 3000 feet in the first
few miles in and around Amicalola State Park.  I chatted with a guy I had run with
previously - Aaron Pincus - for most of the starting miles.  He and Leo finished
ten minutes apart, shy of 17 hours, which had been my target.  Given our similar
abilities, that's probably where I would have finished otherwise.

The service roads moved gradually up and then mildly down to the first aid station 
at nine miles.  All systems were go so I held back to baby some knee and heal
tendons that had recently been talking to me.  From mile 9 thru 17 the route leaned
downhill all the way.  I found some momentum and stayed in my sweet spot for 
the entire section to pass perhaps thirty other runners, arriving without anyone
gaining a place on me.  It felt good to move smoothly.  Everything was like days of
old.  Then the race turned up again for at least seven miles, climbing most of 
2000 feet on back roads.  Alternating shuffling forward with walking I was humbled
with this anti-climax.  I gave back some ground to a few runners before rolling 
through much of the afternoon on milder terrain with Tim Newcome (beow)of SC, 
and then George Hollerbach of PA, who I had run with at Bull Run previously.  


The day was mostly run and hiked at a conversational tempo.  I just had no hurry
about me, thoroughly enjoying society as I practiced Phil Maffetone's philosophy.
Stopping to change into dry clothes from drop bags at both miles 30 and 43 I was
comfortable all day with no hint of hypothermia.  Everything went very well with
no new injuries and nothing recurrent, only one muddy somersault that must have
made me look gnarly.


Rolling into Point Bravo at mile 43 in about 9 hours I had a beer from my drop bag
and sat and relaxed with an aid station volunteer from Austria named Fritz.  He
wanted to talk, so I took the time to socialize.  What race?  Averaging slightly less
than 5 mph was surprising given my lackadaisical approach.  With a marathon
distance less to go I headed out with enthusiasm up, up, and up forever into the
fading light.  I got perhaps 6 of the 8 miles of this section before having to use
a light.  The course was marked with Sean's poka-dotted pink ribbons so well that
never once did I question direction.  Outstanding execution on his part.  Tempo
dropped to sometimes less than 2 mph, unfortunately, because of both fatigue and
my eyes just not being what they used to be for navigation in the dark, not to
mention a bit of an imbalance problem that had me staggering and stumbling more
than I would prefer.  The sinus issue was still there, just more apparent as I 

By mile 51 I knew I was faced with safety issues if I continued.  I really slowed
to be more deliberate in my foot placement.  Still, I was stumbling too much, and
getting bored with the slow progress and my inane effort in the dark.  Doing the 
math I figured I would have to stumble at this rate until three in the morning to
finish, so I called it along with another girl (who had won her three previous
events and was certainly not a whiner or slouch) at Mulky Gap at mile 54 out of the
67 or 68 total miles for the event.

No regrets.  Would do it the same way again precisely.  Had a really nice day and
good memories of this adventure.  As to it being a "Death Race", seriously, this was
mild in comparison to much of what I have done.  MILD.  Time to recoup and hit
the Appalachian Trail from the approach trail I just ran on at the inception of this
event.  Two weeks.  Sure nice not to have an injury to hold me back.


Mandatory Gear:

You need this for check in as well as to have ALL of this for the duration of the course including headlamps! We will do random gear checks which could result in disqualification from the race!

1 weather proof jacket (HIGHLY recommended seam sealed jacket)

1 thermal top

1 warm hat (beanie or buff)

1 whistle & 1 space blanket

1 working headlamp or torch with extra batteries

1 capacity for carry water (minimum 22oz)/getting water at aid stations


Start to Mulky Gap - final 18 miles