Chattooga 50 km Run.

30 June 2011.  by Viktor Trukov   

    Chattooga River 50 km Trail Ultra Marathon Run. Volunteering! 🙂

Chattooga 50 km, 2011 start!

    Chattooga 50 km run is a third in 2011 series, organized by Terri Hayes of UltrasOnTrails.com Unfortunately, I could not run this, because I sprained my right ankle at Long Cane 50 km Run a month earlier, and it still hurts even after standing and moving around for a few hours… So, I decided to come up as a volunteer to help runners, as Terri indicated, that she still needed help.
This Run was along the Chattooga river, in North-Western portion of South Carolina, mostly following Foot Hills Trail.
Up to Terri’s standards, event was
 organized very well, and we had enough volunteers, food and drinks for everyone!

Terri Hayes, RD. Running as a sweep.


Course of the run was made with two out-and-back loops, so only two Aid Stations (AS) were needed.
Run start was at Cherry Hill Recreational Area, quite a few miles away from Walhalla, SC. First, runners went out on Winding Stairs Trail, up to Temassee Road and return. First Aid Station was at about 11 km (7 miles) into the run. After that runners went on Big Bend Trail to the river, switched to Foot Hills Trail (FHT) and run along the Chattooga River for long 16 km (10 miles) without aid, till they come to AS #2 at Cheohee rd/hwy 107 intersection.
From that point, there was out-and-back 6.5 km (4 miles) loop to the first bridge on FHT, returning to AS, now #3, and back to Chattooga river for another 16 km (10 mi) unassisted run, to AS#1/4, where water bottles were left, as it was very close to the finish. 

The aid stations were fully stocked with HEED, water, ice, Gatorade, Powerade, Soda, a wide variety of sweet and salty foods including cold boiled potatoes with salt, homemade banana chocolate chip bread, PB&J sandwiches, watermelon, bananas, Hammer Gels, etc. Also, there were Endurolyte tablets, Ibuproprin, Tums, Vaseline. At the finish there was hot food for runners and volunteers with meat and vegetarian!

Aid Station #1 in full swing!

My mama went with me, to help also, and we drove off in the morning, as it’s about an hour and a half away from our home. I again did not calculated time for travel correctly, and came to the camp, with runners already on the start line, about a minute before the start… The familiar atmosphere of The Run hit me immediately after I stepped out of the truck, when Dan Hartley, RD of Harbison 50 km  and Columbia, SC Marathon in SC, yelled at me – Where are your running shoes, Viktor? 🙂  Sigh… Not running – I told him. Then I just snapped a few photos, not having enough time to even switch the camera dial to Sport mode, before runners disappeared into the woods…
   It was good to see familiar faces, old and new friends, wish them good run, and feeling slightly sad, not being able to run it… Especially this run, as I have very sweet memory of FHT and Chattooga river from my successful Inaugural Unofficial Bad Creek 50 km Ultra Marathon Run in March! It was different and strange to be on the other side of the event, but I feel it was my duty to help after running in previous events.
We went to AS#1 and helped Denise and Mike Martin to set up a table with food and drinks. My truck was used as a mile post for runners to run by, entering the trail on another side of the road! 🙂 Later more volunteers came along, and I started to take photos of runners and had fun jokingly telling them, that they completed first 10 km and only a Marathon distance is left to run! 🙂 Runners were coming in looking fresh and strong, no complains, quickly refilling their water bottles/bags and running off to the river. Sean Dunlap, defending champion, was leading and Tom Kochanowicz, Stephen Spalding and others following up.

Leader coming to first AS!

Dan Hartley running to AS#1.

  Terri Hayes was a sweep, and when she came, we cleaned the AS#1, took everything back to the Finish, leaving only a case with water bottles for runners there. My truck came handy with moving all that staff! After that, we drove to AS#2 at Cheohee Rd. at about midpoint of the run at 27 km (17 miles) for runners coming in, and becoming AS#3 at 34 km (21 miles) for runners returning from turn around point.

Happy Psyche Wimberly, enjoying the run!

    When I came there, first three runners already went thru with Sean Dunlap still leading the pack. We started to worry, when he did not come back after runners that followed him started to return, and later learned that he dropped from run for some issues… Sad… It’s always sad when people are unable to finish, but health concerns on this Ultra Runs must be a priority, as people running very long distances put so much stress on their organism. It’s better to be safe and alive, than suffer serious health problem. Everyone should exercise their best judgement in this regard, especially with 16 km (10 miles) unaided stretch of a trail ahead of them!

Aid Station #2/3 with leading group of runners refueling.

The second AS revealed a big difference in runners appearance. Most came with their clothes completely soaked with sweat or water. Chattooga river provided opportunity to go in the water and cool down. Many runners did it repeatedly, as a day was getting hotter by the hour! Oh, how I’d love to do it too! Sigh… Next time! 🙂 Some runners were dropping out of the race here, unable to continue in this hot and humid conditions. Some spent time resting, rehydrating and eating before continue their run. One man was really feeling bad, but recovered after some rest and help. Most runners appeared tired and complained of fatigue, to which I told them – from now on it’s All downhill for the last 10 miles! Psychologically, of course, last stretch to the finish line! That’s how I view it on the runs and it helps! All my running friends went thru alright – Doug Robinson, Dan Hartley, Jason Sullivan, Charles Raffensperger and Psyche Wimberly! You go guys! Most acquaintances went thru alright also!

Runners and volunteers, inseparable!

   We waited for all the runners to go thru, advised them to fill up, eat and drink before they’ll go on the final stretch and after all runners, including our sweep Terri Hayes went thru, we packed AS (and my truck again was very convenient) and took it to the Finish, where other volunteers were busy registering finishers, giving away medals, feeding runners and staff, giving massages and conversing with runners!

Happy runner at midpoint!

   These Runs, althou not a big scale runs, but are very well organised and in many respects are better than big venues, because there is enough food and supplies for everybody, not too many people, many are regulars and know each other. Finishing is a goal, and althou some strive for a top place, many know their abilities and enjoy the run, not worrying much about their placement. Personal health is a prime concern, and everybody must think about personal goals and timing, not a placement on the list! Many people do that. All of this creates a tribal family atmosphere, which most of us like and cherish. It just feels so pleasant and rewarding to reunite with your friends, accomplish a difficult task and bask in the glory of achievement afterwards! It just feels so-o-o good, and drives us to come back for more, despite shed toe nails, bruises, poison ivy, chafing and other injuries. Endorphin rush lasts for many days and lets us overcome Nature’s obstacles and keep us in the running fold! For that we are forever grateful!

By the time we came to the Finish line, many runners were already there, eating, taking a shower, receiving massages from always present massage therapist Denise Martin, talking to each other. My new friend, Matt Verley, with whom we got acquainted just before the run, already finished as a #4 overall with 5:59:02 time! Excellent result for a very first Ultra Marathon run, Matt! Congratulation! And his wife was volunteering at AS#2/3 until all the runners went thru!

Rob Apple, Susan Donnelly and Terri Hayes refueling before a final stretch!

Many more runners were still running in and trickling thru the finish line, greeted by friends and volunteers! Susan Donnelly asked me about my shirt “Training for Greenville Run Fest“, and I told her, that I’ll run my home town upcoming Marathon on 29 October 2011!

Jason Sullivan finishing, after running 20 miles the day before!

I must say a great praise for volunteers, many of whom are a constant feature at every event, helping us runners to accomplish our runs. Terri’s daughter Robin, grandsons Justin, Ryan and Charles  are regularly helping her.

Ryan, Terri’s grandson, cooking hot food for runners and volunteers! Thank you!!!

Justin, Ryan and Charles, Terri’s grandsons at the finish line. Thank you, guys!!! Note, that Justin helping despite being in the cast for his left knee trauma and operation! That’s a pure selflessness!!!

Denise Martin’s massages are very well appreciated by suffering runners! And Denise’s husband Mike is a great help with setting up AS and Finish Line!

Denise at work! Massaging tired legs of Ultra runner, relieving him of pain! Thanks!!!

Mike and Denise Martin, always present volunteers! Thank you, guys!!!

I got acquainted with new people, reflected on previous runs, discussed future plans, ate some hot food, talked and joked with old friends, while mama went into the woods and picked some Chanterelle Mushrooms ! She cooked them later, and as you can know, I’m alive and well! 🙂
Closer to the end of the run, one woman, who just finished a run told us that there is no more water bottles left at the AS #4/1 and I offered to take another case with bottles there, as it was a time for me to go back home to get ready for work, on which I was already behind a schedule… So, thanking the volunteers, bidding good-bye to runners, I took a case of water to AS #4, cleaned up the mess there and went home. Another good event is over, and despite me not participating, it felt great to be there, to see friends, to help, and pay back to organizers!
Sorry I couldn’t write report earlier, as I was so busy at work with exams before a holiday week, and had some issues with photo editing in Picasa for Linux…

Congratulations to first finishers:
 1. Tom Kochanowicz 36 NC 5:23:45 bib#173
2. Nick Medica 27 GA 5:25:51 bib#185
3. Stephen Spalding 23 SC 5:46:13 bib#203
4. Matt Verley 26 SC 5:59:02 bib#208
5. Thaddeus Gilliam 26 GA 6:35:42 bib#161
6. Mike McConnell 47 FL 6:38:30 bib#182
7. Billy Gordon 35 NC 6:48:00 bib#163
8. Larissa Yook 30F SC 6:55:40 1st Female bib#214
9. Zachary Dean 25 SC 6:55:40 bib#141
10. Chad Hallyburton 42 NC 7:05:00 bib#165

First three female  finishers:
8. Larissa Yook 30F SC 6:55:40 1st Female bib#214
17. Corrine Odermatt 44F GA 7:12:45 bib#193
23. Jennifer Ford 35F AL 7:42:38 bib#154

Congratulations to all finishers!!!
Official results are available on UltrasOnTrails site-> http://ultrasontrails.com/ChattoogaResults2011.html

Congratulations to #56 finisher, Thomas Skinner 65 y.o. from Georgia,  bib#202, finishing at 10:29:15  being the most senior runner at Chattooga!

All pictures of this Trail Ultra Marathon Run you can see at my Picasa Web Album – Chattooga 50 km Trail Ultra Marathon Run! It’s open to public, so you welcome to download, add, upload your photos, tag and comment! Also, the same album is on FaceBook. 🙂

   Some observations:
1) It appears that many runners are not adequately acclimatized to running in the hot weather, despite living in the South… Many run in the mornings or evenings, when it’s cooler, avoiding the heat. Some trying to go to saunas and hot yoga. But if you only run in cooler times, how are you going to feel running 50 km or longer thru most of the heat of the day?!
Solution is obviously simple – run in the heat of the day! Even after work, at 18:00 or a bit later it’s hot enough to train your organism for these long events. Schedule some long runs on weekends during the heat of the day! You’ll feel much better during 6 – 7 – 8 hours or longer runs!
2) Many runners carry extra weight, and would really benefit from weight reduction to normal, without a need to haul extra several kilograms of fat on themselves! Easier for heart, joints, muscles! Cross-training and appetite control are in order! Without extra weight all the energy used for movement! I, myself, need to continue to work on this also! 🙂
3) Some runners need to learn how to enjoy the long run and get a bit more positive attitude! It took me awhile to realize it. At first, wishes to enjoy the run, I considered as some kind of twisted psychological torture. Enjoy running a Marathon or Ultra?? It’s a hard labor for hours at the peak of performance on the brink of exhaustion! How you can enjoy it?? Seemed impossible. But now after 6 of those runs completed, I really do enjoy them! I enjoy exercise, connecting with friends, being on the Nature, able to keep running over a Marathon distance, finishing, feeling accomplished – all of it!!! 🙂

Wish you all good recovery and wise resolutions!

Good exercises for good health everyone!!! Do not overdo, do no harm to yourself!!! Exercise safely!!!

P.s. Please, tell me if you want your name to be partially omitted from post (e.g. last name removed), or on opposite, you realize, I’m describing you (e.g. man in white shirt) and you want me to put your name in the post instead.  

Also, please, let me know of any mistakes I made, English is not my native tongue. And feel free to talk in Russian with me any time! 😉

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10 Responses to Chattooga 50 km Run.

  1. Doug F. says:

    Nice report Viktor. It was nice to see your smiling face at aid station #2/3. Hope your ankle heals quickly. One thing I have observed over the dozen ultras I have completed: don’t judge a book by its cover. I have been spanked by many runners I felt wouldn’t complete 10 miles(based on their looks). I agree it’s easier to run without excess weight, but I think it’s a runner’s desire that outweights physical gifts or talents. Desire to persevere overcomes many obstacles.

  2. ImmigrantUS says:

    Doug, judging from my own personal experience, it’s much easier to do any kind of exercise without extra weight. And I need to continue to work on it till I reach my normal weight. Yes, with a strong desire to persevere a runner can overcome many obstacles, but big part of the effort is spent on carrying additional kilograms of weight, not to mention that it is also an insulator – makes it easy to overheat in a hot weather! 🙂 In my case about 5 – 7 kg. It’s like hauling a backpack with 7 one liter bottles for 50 km…
    And it’s also important to realize, that extra weight is a major contributor to morbidity – diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. Health reasons are even more important!
    All in all, there is a no way to construct an objective argument for extra weight.

  3. Corinne O says:

    I very much enjoyed this race, even though I missed the pre-race instructions to ‘turn around at the FIRST bridge…..). Terri’s comment about ‘this is NOT a race’ took a ton of weight off my shoulders before the start. The volunteers were very encouraging and the aid stations looked like a feast of some sort! Very well done!

  4. Charles R says:

    Nice report Viktor. Sorry you weren’t able to run with us but we all really appreciated your help and positive encouragement at the aid stations…! Love your enthusiasm for this sport and look forward to seeing you out there again soon 🙂

  5. Stephanie R says:

    Viktor, I have enjoyed reading your race reports and am looking forward to running the FATS 50k in October….MY FIRST ULTRA!! I’m scared to death, but with 12 marathons under my belt, I figured it was time to take the next step to ultra running. I am glad to see that Terri emphasizes that these runs are not races as I am really looking forward to just getting out on the trails and running – with my eyes set on crossing the finish line of my first ultra. I am training all summer for FATS so I’m hoping that I’ll be in top shape by the time October rolls around (and that the weather is cooler!!). I hope that your ankle heals and that you’ll be back on the trails running soon.

    • ImmigrantUS says:

      Hi Stephanie!
      With a dozen of Marathons you don’t need to be scared at all! Remember it’s just 8 more kilometers. Need to add 1 – 1.5 hours to you finish time. I do train for them exactly the same as for Marathons.
      I’m not a fast runner, just trying to stay in the middle of the pack. Althou on Long Cane was able to finish at the end of the first third! Marathons I run non-stop, but on ultras close to 40 km I usually start fast walking uphills.
      In my experience 50 km is pretty close to a Marathon, but running in the woods makes it harder, because of elevations and descends.
      On my limited experience, following helps me to run more comfortable:
      – My modus operandi – shirtless, helps me to stay cooler.
      – Do some runs in the heat of the day to acclimatize yourself!
      – Preferably use trail running shoes, or regular with more pronounced non-skid soles.
      – Watch for roots, rocks, etc. on the trail, especially when tired! It’s easy to trip over, or kick it even if you see them. Need to move feet higher than on asphalt, to avoid loosing toenails!
      – Use either massage oil or other lubricant on armpits, etc. to reduce chafing.
      – I run with fuel belt and load fruit juice in the bottles. Need to carry a water/juice/etc on you, especially for long stretches between Aid Stations (AS).
      – Also, it’s good to make a drop bag with your drinks, etc. and it will be waiting for you at one of the AS!
      – After about three Ultras I learned to use AS fully!
      – Drink a few cups of cold water and electrolyte drinks there.
      – Get two cups of each kind of electrolytes tablets (4 total).
      – Splash my face with cold water.
      – Eat some food later in the race.
      – Get about 3-4 “Hammer” or “Gu”gels in the pockets, to eat between AS, when start to feel tired.
      – Eat good food and drink more after the race finish.
      All of this makes a huge difference on running and recovery!
      For the first Ultra, I think just try to run comfortably, and if heat wouldn’t get you much, finish strong!
      Hopefully, if nothing bad happens will see you, Stephanie, there!
      Good luck!

    • ImmigrantUS says:

      Stephanie, did not see your name in runners… Did you run FATS ?

  6. Pingback: URL

  7. HEY!! I loved reading this report!! I am gearing up to run this race this year (2012). Already sent in my registration and money! I have run 3 marathons, one to come in April but this will be my first ultra. Quite a leap I am sure but hey, gotta do it sometime! Right! =)

    Maybe I’ll see you out there running this year!!!!!

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