Buncombe 55 km Trail Run

06 November 2011.  by Viktor Trukov

Ex promptu Buncombe 55 km Trail Ultra Marathon Run.  

Buncombe 55 km Ultra Run

Ex promptu Buncombe 55 km Ultra Trail Run. Joe Parker, Drew Walker, Bobby Wood, Terri Hayes (RD), Viktor Trukov, Larry Thornton.

This Run was not planned ahead of time, but was decided just about a week in advance. We put the word out and posted on FaceBook, but only six runners decided to run it. Which is fine, as long as there are 5 finishers – it’s official!

The story behind this run is simple but a bit twisted. After we completed last Ultra run in Terri Hayes 2011 Ultras on Trails series, FATS 50 km, I begged Terri to do some more runs this year, as I missed one of her runs due to injury (Chattooga 50 km) and need want to squeeze two more long runs in schedule to make 12 total for a year – one a month. That was my dream. She said there is a runner, who needs one more run also, as she already ordered a plate for him, and she might do a small-scale run where I’d be welcome to participate. Very good, I thought, hopefully it’d come thru.
So, right after a Greenville Spinx Marathon (which I ran very well in 04:14:25, improving my time for half an hour from last year), I received email from Terri, asking me if I’d like to run 55 km Buncombe Trail Ultra next weekend. My answer was: “55 km… I’d like to think that I can do it, althou I’m not at the point of being able to run Marathon or Ultra every weekend, I think. But… I need want to squeeze two more runs in before the year-end…  So, yes, I’d like to try to run it, IF I can recover by the weekend.
Recovery after a Marathon went unbelievably well – walking normally right after a marathon, no major problems, only a slight pain in left hamstrings. I was able to run my regular 10 km on the third(!) day after it, just three minutes longer than usual! This is a very first time that I recovered that fast after a Marathon! Then I told Terri that I’d definitely run Buncombe 55 km! We put the word out on FaceBook and thru friends and were able to recruit six people total for this run. I’m sure if we’d have more time, the group would be much bigger. I was surprised when I saw Terri’s group emails where she asked people to run with us, because Viktor wants to run extra Ultra!  Strange, I thought, it was for another runner, and I was just going to run along. But, oh well, it’s true that I want this run also! 🙂 As it turned out, the runner, who was going to complete one missed run in Terri’s 2011 series, Daniel, declined to do it for a reason of being so busy with road Marathons, running doubles and triples. So, Terri organised it for me (!) without me even knowing it!.. That was a nice and really touching surprise! Thank you very much Terri!!! Now I’m entitled to commemorative plate for completing five Terri’s runs in 2011 season!!! Yay!!! 🙂 Just need to get it out from Daniel’s hands somehow.
We received  directions and course info from Terri in advance to get familiar with the course. I printed the map and some extra ones for other runners, memorized the markings and slept well the night before the run! In the morning me and my mother (staff photographer:), went to Joe Parker and drove all together to the Start, which is the same for Enoree 40 miles run.

Prerun course discussion.

Pre-run course discussion.

After discussing our course and three Aid drop locations, made by Terri, we started to run. This small-scale run we had to complete without additional course markings, relying solely on trail’s tree blazes, poles and info stands. The course is a long loop with access trail to it. Buncombe Map (in pdf)
We would follow the sequence: Blue/Yellow -> Purple/Yellow -> Purple -> White -> Green -> Red -> Blue/Yellow back to start/finish. Are you lost already? (I will be, three times…)

Buncombe trail map

Buncombe trail map

Terri wanted someone to run along with her and Larry volunteered, saying: “At least I will not get lost!” All of us started to run on Terri’s command. The weather was good, not cold, so naturally I took t-shirt off, and started on the long journey with a belt and two 300 ml bottles. Talking and joking we entered the trail and run as a group for a while, until we hit downhills, which I could not resist running as fast as I can, knowing full well that later in the run, I’ll be tired, so it seemed a good idea to gain some time and distance now on faster runners – Joe and Drew. Both of them could outrun me, if they would put an effort to do it. Drew said in advance that he’d go slow, as both of us ran Spinx Marathon in Greenville, SC the previous week and he was pacing at 03:50. I did run ahead for a while, but the group was very close and caught up with me very quickly when I tried to put a branch pointing to first right turn from gravel road. We ran together until another stretch of downhills, where I again went down on them in full speed to be until small creek crossing, where I was not sure where to go… Joe, Drew and Bobby came along and all of us started to search for a trail, without clear markings and decided to run on the biggest trail of all of them, fortunately, that was a right decision and about a half kilometer later we started to see blazes on trees! Intersection was not marked by park rangers good, and that’s the crucial location to prevent people from being lost in unfamiliar area…
Then I speed up again and ran alone till intersection with a Red Trail, passed it and continued ahead on the gravel road, but missed both trail entries, which were marked with small metal posts, and went off course to intersection with next road… Not seeing blazes on trees and new road made me realize that it’s a wrong course, so I turned around and ran back missing those poles again, went back to the beginning of gravel road, checked other small and wavy gravel road, then checked clear cuts, where park has started logging operation, and finally returned to the beginning of gravel road again and just started to walk in general direction of the course looking for markings very carefully. It’s always perplexing to me – why trails almost never marked good at the intersections, where those markings are most needed?! Why can’t park rangers mark it better?! Soon I saw a metal pole and went back on the trail. By this running around I lost about half an hour and added 5 km to the distance… 🙂 The only good thing about it was that I spooked two big birds, that looked like wood grouses, the same as we have in Sibiria! I did not know they can be here in the South.
After this detour I was surely behind the main group and just kept running. The thought that they think that I’m in front of them and if they would try to get me they’d never see me was funny. On the other hand, I might never see them again as well… It took me about half an hour to reach Drew and Joe. Suddenly I heard the voice, then again, recognized it’s Joe and saw both of them in front of me after a turn! They were taking a short break, talking and taking photos on the gravel road.

Joe Parker on the Trail.

Joe Parker on the Trail.

Drew Walker on the trail.

Drew Walker on the trail.

We spoke a bit and I continued to run, knowing that if I start relaxing now I will not be able to increase my speed later in the run and fall well behind. We were on the Purple trail, covering close to a quarter of the run. Terri and Larry were chasing us with brooms :-), I mean sweeping. 😉
When on this Purple Trail I saw a pile of sticks put across the trail with a scratch line in front of them and eagle feathers stuck in the side of the trail… ?! First thought in my mind was – Did Bobby signaling us that we are on the wrong trail? But it seemed a right one! After a few seconds, I just stepped over it and run ahead, looking for blazes. White blazes confirmed that I was on the right trail.
It took me about half an hour or more to reach Bobby, running in white shirt. Every Run I do, there always a man in white shirt! 😎 Bobby was surprised to see me coming from behind, he was a leader for more than an hour, without realizing it. Could enjoy it better, if he knew!

Bobby, the leader for a first third!

Bobby, the leader for a first quarter of the course!

I then continued to run faster while I can, feeling good after a Marathon the previous week – no pain in any muscles, legs okay, weather cool, life is good! Eventually I crossed the paved road and saw first Terri’s Aid Drop, that she placed for us yesterday!

Aid drop #1 (of three)

Aid drop #1 (of three)

I drank and filled up my bottle with “Essential water”, ate some cookies and right at this moment Bobby came here and without much stopping continued ahead. And I made a mistake of not watching which way he’d go after a stand with direction, that was mere 20 meters ahead… When I finished refueling, I came to the stand and despite clearly see all the trails on it, made a wrong turn and went on the Gray trail instead of White… There I saw fresh trucks, that I concluded were Bobby’s, but the markings on the trail were not looking really White… After awhile (~ 0.5 km) I decided that it’s a wrong trail and turned around. Running back faster to make up for lost time didn’t do much good, and I started to notice that the same trucks were also going back!?. Turned out, Bobby also made a wrong turn, and I just did not see him, being busy with refueling… When I came back to the stand I saw that Joe and Drew were at the Aid Drop. I yelled at them, Joe came to the stand and I told him the right way to go. Again the trail markings were not visible from the intersection… They did appear some time later on the trail. Why is it so hard to mark it right to save people’s time? I’d like to ask rangers.

Trail was generally soft with some muddy spots from horse traffic, and I splashed some dirt on me a couple of times. Also we had to watch for horse manure! 🙂 We were on the White trail now that lasts for Half-Marathon distance. It took me forever to reach Bobby. I went thru the second Aid Drop, that seemed untouched by him, used another “Essential water” bottle, ate some cookies, got a few Hammer gels, and continue to run. After awhile Joe reached me, running strong and fresh, and after some talking went ahead trying to get to Bobby. Not long after that I finally saw a white shirt ahead! I finally reached Bobby, and together we got to Joe, who was playing with his phone the whole run, taking photos and videos and. All three of us ran together for a few kilometers, then me and Joe started to pull ahead and run together for about 20 or more kilometers. Joe could easily outrun me, but did not do it, just to be in the company.

At midpoint.

At midpoint.

I kept asking Joe about our distance, wanting to see what my Marathon time would be, finally he yelled Marathon, wrote 26.2 on the trail and told me it was 06:30. Two hours and 15 min more than last week. Soon after that we came to the final third Aid Drop, sat on the log drank water and ate cookies and crackers. I filled up my bottle and took one extra with me. When I got up and started to run my both feet were hurting badly… I moaned and limped, hoping it’d get better. After a few minutes pain subsided and later it disappeared completely. I have flat feet and prone to foot pain periodically, especially under exertion.

At the end of White trail and on Green we started to come to some intersections where as usual, markings were not present and Joe started to make wooden arrows from sticks, to show correct direction for our friends behind us. We make quite a few of those arrows, and Joe even went back a few times to make an arrow after discovering right way. Later Terri told us, she and Larry ran on those arrows, but Drew said, he did no see any. 🙂
At the end of Red trail situation with trail became even worse, as we came to huge areas of clear cuts,  where park was doing logging operations. Trees with markings were removed, and none of the park rangers bothered to mark other trees…
Eventually we found Blue/Yellow trail, I marked the turn, scratched 50 km on ground, and realized it’s our final segment! We started to see more and more horse/men/women. Hoping to not get lost any more we continue ahead, and soon Joe decided to speed up, leaving me behind. I made several efforts thruout the whole run to concentrate attention on the trail markings, but during long run brain is not getting enough glucose to work normally and it’s easy to lose track of surroundings… So, after some running, I got lost again… Missing the metal pole and stick arrow, made by Joe, both… Fortunately the road ended and it was obvious, that it’s a dead-end. So, I retracted and saw both pole and an arrow in the same time. If I’d be carefully watching, I’d never missed it! I kept running ahead and soon saw a pole with 4 mile mark on it, 6.4 km I recalculated, just a home run. I had enough gels and water to last thru it, just need to keep running. Most of the distance I ran, with exception of a few stretches of the road where we were not sure of the way and walked in the company. Now I caught myself thinking – why am I still trying to run uphills with more than 50 km already behind me? Switched to walking them, especially steep ones. There was one hill that I came up on feeling totally exhausted and light-headed. Okay, time for gel and drink, after that felt better and continued to run, asking every horse rider I met how far is it to the park. One couple told me it’s about an hour. NO way, I argued, that’s an hour for you (on horses!), I’d be there faster! Iron logic, isn’t it? 🙂
Anyhow, I slowly approaching the finish, and when I saw some park buildings on the right, I realized that I almost there, and started to run “very” quickly (as I perceived it:). After a few minutes I came to the park gravel road and ran into a parking lot, yelling Ура-а-а! in Russian (Hooray). The run was over! My number 10 long distance, ninth this year.

Viktor at Buncombe 55 km Run finish!

Viktor at Buncombe 55 km Run finish!

Marathon/Ultra-marathon #10!

Marathon/Ultra-marathon #10!

Joe was already there, finishing 10 minutes before me. Bobby was already gone, he took shorter route to finish, completing shorter Ultra. Joe clocked my time – 09:32:00. His Garmin watch recorded 36,75 miles, but with my three detours, I’m sure my distance was close to 40 miles (64 km), and I felt happy for the run to be over!

Joe Parker - winner of Buncombe 55 km run!

Joe Parker - winner of Buncombe 55 km run!

On arrival I discovered that mama accidentally locked herself out of Joe’s truck and already called locksmith. Half an hour and $65. later the truck was opened.
Drew Walker came in third, running conservatively, at 10:03:00 and  immediately exclaimed – This was longer than 50 km! I said – Well… it supposed to be 55 km, remember? After some thinking, he remembered and told us that it’s good he forgot, because it helped him running, thinking the end is so close! 🙂

Drew Walker at the finish of Buncombe 55 km run!

Drew Walker at the finish of Buncombe 55 km run!

First three finishers of Buncombe 55 km Run!

First three finishers of Buncombe 55 km Run! Left to right: Joe Parker, Viktor Trukov, Drew Walker.

 All dressed up, warm and tired. Viktor, Drew, Joe.

All dressed up, warm and tired. Viktor, Drew, Joe.

Some runners just ...,  you know. ;-) Drew Walker.

Some runners just ..., you know. 😉 Drew Walker.

While we were running, mama went into the woods twice and picked bag full of mushrooms! Seven species, exactly the same as we have in Sibiria. With three fake/poisonous ones at the top of the photo for comparison. We ate some of them stewed with potatoes and pickled three other species, they’ll be ready by New Year!

Mushrooms, picked in South Carolina.

Mushrooms, picked in South Carolina.

We waited for a while for Terri and Larry, but Joe had to go home because he needed to get up at 05:00 for work, and me and mama had to go with him, as we carpool in his truck. Drew decided to go too. We knew that Trail is still full of horse riders and they would help in necessity. As it turned out we missed Terri and Larry by just a few minutes. So sorry… My apologies.

Thank you very much Terri for organizing this run and participating in it! I appreciate opportunity to finish your five events and earning a commemorative plate! Thanks also to all participants! Sorry for not writing report earlier, was too busy with paperwork on the job…

Read Joe Parker’s report!

All pictures of this Trail Ultra Marathon Run you can see at my Buncombe 55 km Trail Run Picasa Web Album. It’s open to public, so you welcome to download, upload your photos, tag and comment! Also, the same album is on FaceBook. 🙂

Buncombe 55 km Trail Run

Results of Buncombe 55 km Run:  from http://ultrasontrails.com

Congratulation to overall winner #1. Joe Parker 28, SC. 09:22
Second place: #2. Viktor Trukov, 48, SC. 09:32
Third place: #3. Drew Walker, 53, SC. 10:03
Fourth place: #4. Larry Thornton, 53, SC. 11:09
Fifth place: #5. Terri Hayes (RD), 68F, SC. 11:09
Sixth place: #6. Bobby Wood, 40, SC. 7:05 – 45 Km.

Congratulations to first female:

Terri Hayes (RD), 68F, SC. 11:09

Congratulations to all runners for persevering in this event and helping to make it official!!! 

Damage report: 1. Mild chafing around arm pits. No blisters on feet! Terri’s advice to lube toes with body glide (I modified for massage oil) – works perfect!  2. Pain in distal portions of left hamstrings.

Recovery: Hamstrings painful for about three days, on fourth day ran 10 km, with three minutes longer than usual. Another 10 km the same week, and two more 10 km next week, before scheduled Mad Marsh 50 km Ultra Run.

Resolutions: 1) BE VERY CAREFUL ON THE TRAIL – DO NOT GET LOST!!! 2) Do more cross and strength training, 3) Keep losing weight.

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).
 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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