26 March 2011. by Viktor Trukov
Inaugural Unofficial Bad Creek 50 km Trail Ultra Marathon Run.
Everybody has a chance! ;-),
Bare courage :-)>
Running thru the rain :-).
Unbelievable feat achieved!!! Shocked, tired, but happy! First time
ever, and most probably a last one :-), winning of 50 km Trail Ultra
Marathon!!! With result of 7 hours 18 min. Everybody has a chance!
26 March 2011, Bad Creek 50 km Ultra Marathon on Foothills Trail –
from Bad Creek near Lake Jocassee to Oconee State Park ->
Elevation gain – 1900 m (6225 ft), Elevation loss – 1930 m (6336 ft).
It was +6, + 9 Celsius (44 – 49 F) and rained ALL day.
Inaugural Bad Creek 50 km Ultra Marathon on Foothills Trail was
supposed to be an Official run, organised by Race Director Dan Hartley (also RD of www.columbiascmarathon.com and http://harbison50k.carolinaultras.com , for which I already registered ;). But due to resistance from some
inconsiderate environmental officials, the run was not allowed…
Which is showing that those officials are not runners themselves, and
don’t understand that we are very environmentally considerate people,
running on much more difficult (compared to city streets) terrain for
the joy of being closer to Nature and clean air. Our goal is to run
from start to finish, without any extra trail activity. We strive to
not litter, and have neither wish, nor means to afflict any kind of
damage to our beloved Trails! I hope common sense will prevail and
this race will be official in the future!
Nevertheless, RD Dan Hartley organized it anyway, and it was accomplished by a small group of ultra running enthusiasts, Dan provided all needed information with maps and
encouragement, so I had no questions about the run. The only concern I had was about my pace. I was worried, that I could be the last one, and did not want to hold anyone back. It’s my first year of running, and I never was a fast runner. In my youth I was a free style wrestler.
I. My running history.
My running history is very short (as of now ;-). I ran for a few
months about 10 years ago, when I lived close to Table Rock State Park
and quit after moving to Greenville, SC. Then started to run regularly
on 25 May 2010 after discovering Swamp Rabbit Trail about kilometer
(less than a mile) from my home! Soon I learned of upcoming City
Marathon and a dream of running a Marathon resurfaced, for some reason I
always wanted to run it. I started to run 4 – 5 times a week with 7 km
(3.4 mi) distance, then 10 km (6.2 mi) and incorporated one, and later
two, long runs of 17 km (10.5 mi), or 21.1 km (Half Marathon – 13.1
mi) in weekly schedule. Three weeks before my first Marathon ran 32 km
(20 mi) and realized that I could finish 42 km also!
My first in life Marathon was in Greenville SC on 30 October 2010. I
finished it in 4:41:53, tired, salty, but very happy! Some people
complain of after Marathon blues, but I was exhilarated for a week! My
first thought after finish was – When will I run the next Marathon?! I
new, that I will do it again. A Marathoner was established and another
dream was born – to run 48 km for my upcoming 48th birthday on 11
January 2011. Luckily I stumbled on
http://harbison50k.carolinaultras.com Harbison Trail 50 km Ultra
Marathon, organized by Dan Hartley, on 08 January 2011, and I
registered for it.
Althou my inexperience lead to running injuries… I started to run
too early after a first Marathon, not giving enough time for a full
recovery. Ankles got swollen, hot to touch and painful to run… Had
to stop running for ten days and treat it with heating sport creams
and massages. It eventually healed well, and I started to train for
my second run – Harbison 50 km. At that time I was feeling great, did
32 km three weeks before it and felt good. Then two weeks before it I
was running 21.1 km (Half-M 13.1 mi) and started to race everyone
going in my direction. Had good fun doing it, and with some success,
but it was a big mistake – overexerting the joins. Next day I woke up
to a strong pain in both knees… Rest and intensive treatment with
heating creams and massages for two weeks almost completely eliminated
pain in right knee, but left was still hurting. If there would be
another week ahead, I’d most likely be healed. It probably was
wise not to run my second Marathon, but I could not resist to make me this special birthday present despite the pains. Some present isn’t it?! 🙂
Harbison Trail 50 km turned out very difficult for me, because it
was my very first Ultra run and a Trail run also. On every single step I
took, I had a pain in left knee, and by the finish both knees hurt…
So, I completed it in 7:13:21. After sitting and eating post run
dinner, I found myself barely able to walk back to the car. Again, had
to take two weeks off training for rest and treatment, yet still had
nagging pain in left knee for more than a month… But I did enjoy my
birthday present anyway! After it, another dream developed – to run a
Marathon every month for a year! Everybody can dream, right? 😉
My next run was Fort Yargo Trail Marathon on 26 February 2011.
Which was more enjoyable than previous runs, because I had just a bit
of leftover pain in the knee and felt very good. Finished it in 05:00:02.
Swimming in the lake after finish was a pure pleasure! After this third
Marathon I decided to completely treat my knee. Took two
weeks off training, did some stretches, treated it with heating creams
and massages consistently. Then gradually started to run, increasing
distance slowly. This approach had a great result! About a week before
my next Marathon – 50 km Bad Creek Ultra, all my pains were completely
gone, I ran pain-free, althou I only had one Half Marathon long distance
run in training.
So, considering my running history, my projected time for Bad Creek
50 km was supposed to be around 8 hours or more, but Dan assured me
that I won’t be alone at that pace. Okay, I thought, very well,
and with a light heart started to get ready for a run. Mama Nina would
go with me and help with supplies at road crossings between stages.
Regretfully could not squeeze more than 3 hours of sleep the night
before the run, and being a night owl doesn’t help with early starts…
II. Bad Creek 50 km Trail Ultra Marathon.
26 March 2011.
Driving to Oconee State Park took about an hour, and most runners
were there already. Then we drove from finish to start, with Dan
Hartley showing us access points. He asked me, if I will run shirtless
again, remembering my shirtless Harbison 50 km run in January. I said,
that I probably would. Actually I ran all my Marathons shirtless, so
far. That’s how I run in training too. All of us arrived to the start
at about 7:45, and at that time it started to rain and rained ALL day
long, nonstop… Temperature was about +6, +9 Celsius (44 – 49 F), but
luckily without much of a wind! Dan Hartley briefed us again on the
course, and off we went. I met a nice group of new people, very
friendly and supportive, most of them were surprised by my dress code
(or the lack there of:).
Driving from the start to the first stage, mama saw a flock of turkeys on the road!
1.) First stage of the run was from Bad Creek project parking lot to
White Water Falls, just 5 km (mile 3), but the hardest one with steep
uphill climb, most of the time. I ran my best trying not to fall behind, and
was able to keep up with leading group – Dan Hartley, Doug Robinson and
Jon Allen. And even had my first “15 minutes of fame” when I passed everybody
briefly, to let them pass me on uphill again, where all of us had to
walk some sections, unable to keep running steep uphill. This is a
very first Marathon for me, when I started to walk some uphills…
This stage finished quickly, and I came up to White Water Falls
parking, where my mama Nina was waiting.
I dropped most supplies here, only kept two bottles with juice and honey drink (600 ml total). It was raining, so no issues with overheating! 🙂
At this time Don and Doug came to a lot too. I was puzzled – how did I got
ahead of everybody, and Don explained that I probably missed one turn and
got about 5 minutes advantage on them. There was supposed to be a sign,
after a bridge, but he did not see it either. Oops…
2.) Second stage was to Sloan Bridge Road, 13 km (mile 8), where
after some climbing uphill I had my second “15 minutes of fame”
passing all on downhill section and coming to a road crossing first!
Mama was already there, took a picture of me, and back to trail I went
again, not knowing that I will not see her until the final stage…
I did not take any additional water, as it’s still raining, cool, no desire
to drink much.
3.) Third stage was to Fish Hatchery road, 18 km (mile 11) –
relatively easy with long downhill stretch. Here again I was quickly
bypassed in the beginning by leading group – Don, Doug and Jon, but on
downhill stretch I got my third “15 minutes of fame” passing all at
high-speed and running as a leader for some time. Gotta love those
downhills! :-)) I even start dreaming, that I’ll somehow keep up my
advantage and win the race! Everybody can dream, right? 🙂 Well, 15
minutes of fame were over rather quickly, when I heard the voices of a
group behind me, and them passing me on uphills again… All my dreams
were shattered… But I was glad, that I’m able to keep up with
leaders and not falling behind. Fortunately a bit later another
stretch of downhill running came, and I passed them all again! By now we
all get used to the constant rain, and it felt as a given.
Completed the third stage being a first again! Surprisingly did not find
my mama at the crossing… Turned out she was taking Wayne to his car
to the start of a run, because he got sick, and she and Wayne returned to
this crossing after we all ran thru already… But she did not know it
and spent some time waiting for us, and, as a result, missed us at the
next crossing at Burrell’s Ford also… Since cell phone service is
sketchy there it’s hard to communicate efficiently.
4.) Fourth stage was to Burrell’s Ford, 24 km (mile 15) – midpoint
of the run. The history repeated itself – I was passed right at the
start of this stage on uphills and barely kept behind seeing the
leading group ahead, before they disappeared completely. The trail
leveled off and then gradually turned downhill! I was glad to have
that, and increased my speed. It did not take very long to catch up
with Dan, Doug and Jon, and have my fourth “15 minutes of fame” coming
to midpoint of the run first! Mama was not at sight at the crossing
thou, still waiting at previous crossing, not knowing, that we already
ran thru… I felt quite good at midpoint, and still had my two water
bottles full, as it was not hot at all and I did not drink much, also
getting some water from rain into my mouth anyway. So, I
quickly went on the trail not stopping for food, etc. I later learned that
three runners dropped at this stage, completing about a Half Marathon
distance. One was telling me it feels so cold for him, that he is numb
from the waist up…
5.) Fifth stage was to Cheohee Road, 40 km (mile 25) – almost
regular Marathon distance. This stage is the most spectacular one,
going by Chattooga river with rapids and small waterfalls! Neither
major uphills, nor much of long downhills, rather technical at some
places, close to river, and also the longest stage – being 16 km (10 mi)
long! I started this stage feeling quite good, expecting the leading
group to catch up with me soon, and was just trying to increase the
distance to gain some time. I was surprised not to see anyone catching
up with me after a while, periodically looking back when confusing the
rain noises for people voices… Not having anybody close to me, I
started to dream again of finishing first… Sweet dreams! 🙂 In the second half of this
stage I started to feel tired, and reduced to walking ALL uphills, comforting myself, that everybody is tired too, and probably walking uphills the same as me, and if I get to the next stage first, at least I’ll get to win a Marathon portion (~ 42 km) of Unofficial Bad Creek Ultra Marathon (an unofficial race inside an unofficial race! 😉 ) On this stage
my forearms started to feel cold, and when I was walking uphills, I rubbed them and massaged, to warm them up. The rain was still going and trail became very saturated with water, so I slid a few times on it.
For the first time in my running I was a leader for a long time! It
does take some toll – constantly thinking that someone might already
getting close to me and will soon pass. This makes a run somewhat
unpleasant and worrisome, and I kept consoling myself, that it’s alright to be passed by more experienced ultra runners, and I won’t be the last one. Running on this stage was long and tiresome, going away from river, thinking that it’s turning towards the road, only being returned to river a few minutes later… Over and over… I finished my only two bottles of drinks, and also compensated for my inadvertent advantage on first stage by missing the turn and getting wrong way along the very side of the river on sand dunes and rocks right next to water until it got impassable… Had to turn back and retrace to the
trail. Some intersections were confusing, but carefully looking for signs and white blazes on trees kept me on the right track. At one point I saw two tents and a group of people wondering around them in ponchos. Poor campers, I thought, how miserable is to camp in this rainy weather…
Finally, the trail turned away from the river and I soon crossed the highway and came to a parking lot, that I thought was Cheohee Road, with some cars there and no people… Damn, I thought, mama is not here, and I’d like to get at least one more drink bottle for the final 10 km. Oh, well, will have to go without it… It’s still raining, not hot, so, might do okay without it. After running, what seemed like about three kilometers (2 mi), and already starting to count kilometers left, I suddenly came to another parking lot at road crossing with mama Nina in our car and Wayne in another, cheering me enthusiastically! What is it? Finish? I thought for a moment, that I might be closer to Oconee Park, than I realized.
But when I asked Wayne where to go, and how much left, he said – just 6 miles
to finish. ?! What? Another 10 km? I realized, after some thinking,
that this was Cheohee Road, and I was a sole leader going into the
final stage to Oconee Park alone. I just took one bottle with juice
for the final stage. Mama said maybe it’s enough for a day, some people
already stopped and you completed a Marathon distance already.
I said – no, I’ll run to a finish, and please don’t say anything like this again!
Just 10 km left, I surely will finish it, even if it comes to walking it,
I thought, going on trail again.
Mama stayed at the crossing till Don and Doug came thru, then went
to finish point at the park. While waiting for us here she saw a deer, but when she got the camera out, the deer was gone…
6.) Final stage to Oconee Park, 50 km (mile 31). Turned out quite
easy with long downhills and mild uphills, that I’d normally run, but
was unable this time, walking them ALL.. and trying to run as fast as
I could on all downhills. On this stage there are signs with distance
to Park, althou some very old, unreadable. After awhile I saw a sign
with 4.6 mi to Park ~ 7.5 km, I recalculated. Kept moving and looking
back for chasers. The closer to finish – the more worrisome it was
getting. For some reason, being passed close to finish seems the most
unpleasant… More rolling downhills! Yay! And then the sign – 2 mi to
Park, = just 3 km. At this point I’d rather walk even on flat
surfaces, but the dream of finishing first (an opportunity of a lifetime!)
gave me power to keep running and checking behind me at every turn.
It felt very strange and unfamiliar to be ahead of everybody, and I
must say not exactly pleasant… Somewhere on final kilometers I got a
small rock in my right shoe, and it did hurt a little, but I just kept
running, not allowing myself to lose time on removing it with just
about a couple kilometers left.
Then there was another intersection on the trail with white blazes
gone and <FHT access> white diamonds instead, I reasoned that it
should be it, and continued running on the sides of the trail, that
turned into a small creek. A few minutes later I saw the trail head,
came out of the woods into the road and saw mama in the car on parking
lot, realizing that a run is over, and I’m the first one to finish!!!
Unbelievable!!! My finishing time was 7:18:00, just 5 minutes more than
Harbison 50 km Ultra!
Just 10 minutes later the second finisher – Dan Hartley came from
Behind him Doug Robinson!
Mama took pictures of all of us happy finishers! Charles Raffensperger and Psyche Wimberly finished later in the day, making a requirement of 5 finishers for official results.
Hooray!!! First time in my life I won the hard 50 km Trail Ultra
Marathon!!! Never before I could dream of winning any race! But, as
old saying says – “Never say “Never”! This is my first year of
running, and a fourth marathon overall, two of them being 50 km
ultras, and three of them on trails.
Everybody has a chance (sometimes ;-)), when opportunity strikes and conditions are favorable. 🙂
What helped me to achieve this impossible feat, were several factors:
First of all, I ran injury free, without pains anywhere, very comfortable.
Second, the weather was very good for me, believe it or not. It was
not hot at all, but not cold on the run. Being Russian from Sibiria
certainly helps to be at ease with cold, but to tolerate it better, I
keep conditioning myself to cold! Every shower I take, I finish with
cold water only, making sure I get it all around me for a few times,
or use two buckets of cold water, slowly pouring it on myself. Back in
Russia, I used to roll in the snow after bania (sauna)! These habits
improve tolerance to cold and strengthen Immune System! Less flu and
colds and also makes the body to produce endorphins (“pleasure hormones”)
– the same as after exercises (running:). If you interested about Russian
winter and cold conditioning, read my post ->
Third, feeling normally, without much sweat loss, helped too, and led to
very little drinking, less than a liter – 850 ml (29 oz). This allowed
me to run with carrying very little additional weight, and spent much
less time on stage stops! After a finish, I realized that I ran an entire course
on three bottles of sweet drinks and no food.
Fourth, I grew up in Divnogorsk town in Central
Sibiria, located on the steep hillside, and I walked and run on the
hills thru my childhood, well into youth. That gave me experience not
to be afraid of hillsides. Seems, that running downhills quickly
becoming my Forte! 🙂
Fifth, having real trail shoes – Salomon Trail XT Wings with quicklaces,
that don’t untie, very durable, compact, which I bought on eBay
cheaply :-). I only slightly modified them, by putting additional
jelly heel pads to compensate for my flatfootedness.
And last, but not the least is that leading group spent too much time at
midpoint stop resting, warming, etc. while I was gaining distance between
us. If they would realize that I was any competition to them, surely, with
increased effort they could overpass me on the second half. But on the
last stage I already had enough distance and time advantage, that they
could not overtake.
All of these in sum let me finish the race with good result. As it is in sport:
“Do it once, brag for the rest of your life!” :-))
I really appreciate an opportunity, given to me by Race Director Dan
Hartley on this run. I’m very thankful and indebted to him and to all
my new friends for this experience of a lifetime and I’m looking
forward to run with them again!!!
All pictures of this Inaugural Unofficial Bad Creek 50 km Trail Ultra Marathon Run you can see at my Picasa Web Album! It’s open to public, so you welcome to download, add, upload your photos, tag and comment! Also, the same album is on FaceBook. 🙂
Damage report: one tiny blister on tip of the tow, chafed areas around armpits (forgot to oil it) and that’s it!
Recovery: Right after the run I felt better than after any of my previous Marathons.
Two days later, I only had mild muscle pains in thighs (which are expected after 7 hours of running), walking alright, doing stretches and sit ups. No cold, no flu. Feel very elated and happy, thinking of resuming training for the next Marathon!
Resolutions: 1) run more, 2) consider gators for shoes, 3) do more cross and strength training, 4) lose more weight.
Since it was Unofficial Run, our communication was thru email list service, so I’ll
publish here what other runners posted after the race:
1. Dan Hartley, RD: As I sit here on Monday morning in Columbia, SC, it’s still cold and rainy… exactly as it was Saturday morning at the start of the Inaugural “Unofficial Bad Creek 50K”. Of the nine people who started, we had five finishers. Had the weather been better, there’s no doubt that number would have been higher and the finish times faster. Below are the finish times:
Viktor Trukov – 7:18
Dan Hartley – 7:29
Doug Robinson – 7:31
Psyche Wimberly – 11:01
Charles Raffensperger – 11:01
Congratulations to Viktor for persevering and winning his first race! Awesome job! Let’s not forget that while the rest of us were bundled up with rain jackets and gloves, Viktor won the race with NO SHIRT and ran the last 16.5 miles by himself. I for one am impressed and look forward to running with him again soon. Viktor, please thank your mother again for us. It was nice to see her at each of the check points and reassuring to know she would be there for any of us that needed anything.
2. Jason Sullivan: Dan & Everyone,
Thanks again for putting this run together. I had a lot of fun, even if the weather did suck.
I ran with Wayne & Mark until Weezy had to drop at Sloan’s Bridge from being sick. Mark & I pushed on ahead to Burrell’s Ford where we both decided to call it a day. I was shivering and couldn’t feel most of my body. Mark was in the same boat. I was having a good run. We ran into Burrell’s Ford around 3:50.
I had on shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt. Yep, that was just plain stupid and it costs me a finish at the run. If I had it to do again I would have worn gloves, pants, and a light fleece. I was totally shocked and unprepared for that type of weather. Nothing new for me. No regrets about dropping there. I did the smart thing because it may have gotten very ugly down the Chattooga for me if I had decided to press on.
Congratulations to Viktor and everyone else who finished! Your Mom was a huge help Viktor! Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.
Viktor, you are the man! It was great to meet you.
You are BAD ASS BRO! Shirtless in the freezing rain down the Chattooga – great stuff!
Congrats on killing it last weekend… Can’t wait to do another one.
3. Doug Robinson: Hey guys, great to see/meet everyone. I came into last weekend really excited about running my second ever ultra distance run, but was nervous about it after a few weeks of bad training that included a strained calf and a bout of heat exhaustion. I met up with Dan at the state park Friday night to camp and be ready and rested for the morning. The guys “next door” that were drinking and partying until 2am had slightly different plans.
We were up at 5 after about 3 hours of sleep, Dan may have gotten less, and packed up. I started out the run with Dan and Jon. They set a pretty solid starting pace and my doubt crept up quickly but I kept my mouth shut and stuck with them until WW Falls. The first 11 miles of mostly uphill were pretty challenging but aside from my hands, I was warm and was hanging in there. Once we passed the Fish Hatchery trailhead I realized I was actually feeling pretty good and solid so I decided to push it a little and ran with Jon down to Burrell’s Ford.
Burrell’s Ford was definitely my low point. By the time we arrived Viktor had blown by us, never to be seen again until the end and Wayne was there to let us know that he’d dropped pretty early. His car looked so warm and inviting, Jon was dropping and taking Dan’s car to OSP (which looking no less inviting), and stopping moving caused me to lose all my warmth. I was shivering, tired, and couldn’t feel any of my fingers, but at this point quitting just wasn’t an option.
After half a mile or so out of Burrell’s Ford, I slowly started to warm up and to my great surprise started to enjoy myself. The next 2 hours flew by as we passed the Chattooga river along the portion of the FHT that I was familiar with. I continued to be surprised to look at my watch and see an hour had passed, then another. From the Chattooga around mile 18 through mile 30 I kept feeling stronger and more confident. I really had to push out the last mile but felt great coming through the finish.
Overall, Bad Creek 50k was exactly what I needed. The weather sucked, it was cold and wet and I was going on little sleep… so in my book it was the perfect training run! I only wish I’d had more of a chance to get to know all of you who were there. You all seem like great people and I look forward to spending more time on the trails with you in the future. Congratulations to Viktor!! And thanks to his mom. The pictures she took came out great!
Until Next time – Doug
4. Charles Raffensperger: Hey everyone, it was great to see you all out there – and meet Viktor and Jon for the first time!
To start out with, I am in awe of Viktor for finishing in that kind of time and SHIRTLESS!!! Brother, I thought I was pretty tough but V is in a league all by himself!
Hey, camping Friday night was cool but those partiers kept us all up… who would have thought you’d have to worry about that on a cold/damp March weekend.
The run for Psyche and I went as well as can be expected. With my arm still not completely healed and bad memories of slippery rocks, bridges, stairs and trails still fresh on my mind I was running (or mostly hiking) pretty slowly…did manage to fall once but my right arm went in parallel to the ground so no injuries 🙂
We were both pretty cold – when we got to Burrell’s Ford was probably the coldest – went under the bathroom roof to get out of the rain and eat something but since we didn’t have a car there we had no choice but to push on. The sections along the Chattooga there were the most difficult for me – the rushing water of the Chattooga was cool at first but we quickly tired of it. I was pretty happy when we made that final push up and out of the gorge! We finally pulled into Oconee a little after 7 and walked around to the car (which was parked at the Shelter 3 parking lot)…tried to start heating up, drove past Shelter 2 to make sure no-one was still there and then headed up to Bad Creek to pick up my car….that was a mistake because the Bad Creek gate closes at 6! But fortunately we had what we needed in Psyche’s car or back at the campground.
The rain continued all night Saturday night and even threw in a thunderstorm with hail – so our best memory of the day was eating salad and drinking beer while sitting in Psyche’s car in the hailstorm 🙂
As far as preparation my pitiful poncho didn’t keep the rain out and I was soaked to the bone most of the day. Psyche was cold and wet also but we just kept moving along to keep warm. It’s amazing how fast you lose body heat when you stop for any length of time!
Sunday we spent some time hiking from Bad Creek down to Lower Whitewater Falls – WOW! If you guys ever get a chance you have to do that – it is gorgeous – prettier I think than Upper Whitewater Falls!!
A difficult but memorable day and good lessons for us to take to the Barkley this weekend. Thanks again Dan!
5. Jonathan Allen: Loved your write-up, Viktor. Awesome and congrats.
Thanks to all. Great time (at least once I thawed and forgot the cold feeling). I bought a nice rain shell last night, too-who is ready for a rematch? I’ve got a bone to pick with that trail, now.
Good exercises for good health everyone!!! Do not overdo, do no harm to yourself!!!
P.s. Please, tell me if you want your name to be partially omitted from post (e.g. last name removed).
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! 😉