July 15th, 2020
HURL Elkhorn 50K Endurance Run
Saturday August 6th, 2011
Well, all I can say is "Wow"! What an deeply rewarding experience this race was! This was my first "Ultra" and was really tested. I've been very moved by the experience and can say that I'm very humbled as well!
This run is dubbed "HURL" for good reason. Actually it stands for Helena Ultra Runner's League, but the site says "Run 'Til you Hurl, Then Run Some More". I didn't hurl, but could've - if I ran up all the mountain ranges instead of walking them!
This run is for you if you enjoy a true mountain endurance challenge. There are 2 big climbs - one longer that the other - on this run. It starts out at a very enjoyable grade and gets gradually rougher, tougher, and steeper. This year we enjoyed great weather and it was mostly in the 80's - not terribly hot. Great conversations ensued as well as stunning views, which was real nice. I managed a real nice and comfortable pace up to one of the higher sections of Elk Park mountain and down into a real nice, remote section of the mountain range. These are my favorite type of trails that were in here: closed, old, non-maintained forest roads. Love 'em! My ultimate "low" came next where at about 14 miles I experience total leg cramping - both legs - all possible muscles that permit you to move in a forward motion cramped up bad! This lasted quite awhile and I was truly tested because I was then faced with 1500 ft. wet and sloppy climb back up 2 miles to the next aid station. I truly thought my run was over at that point, but somehow, kept a good attitude, kept thinking positive, all the while walking as fast as my body would permit me to. Stretching and stopping sometimes also helped out to. After getting up to the aid station at 16 miles I engulfed whatever looked good and tossed down some more endurolytes for good measure. The aid stations were just great and had everything you would want, by the way. Things started looking up for me after that - down into the next aid station. Then, of course, we were again faced with a very hot, steep 2 mile grade in which I had to walk almost entirely up. It was here that the winner of the 50 MILE RACE past me up. (50 milers started 2 hours before we did)! I didn't let it get me down though! From up top of this mountain the views were (again) stunning, however there was a huge need for watching your footing for miles, skirting this mountain. I was keeping the cramping at bay too - always there and ever present, but it was now a "managed" run. Lots of down hill was next, small stream crossings with some short uphill sections. I was now finding that all uphill sections had to be treated very delicate with the cramping issue. At this point most of the big uphill sections were completed so we had to just bring it on in following a beautiful flowing stream, surrounded by the lush forest! There were a couple of stream crossings, but very manageable. I hardly ever got wet either the whole run. Lots of stream crossings, but you could skirt around them. By the time I was in the last aid station, there was only 1 1/2 miles to go. I was pumped and thanked God I didn't have anymore uphill sections to do. I found my wife and 2 wonderful daughters yelling and screaming for me with home made signs near the finish. Wow, now I was not only pumped again but also a bit chocked up too! My wife says I was probably running 8 minutes per mile at that point! Wow, how one forgets cramping and pain at the finish! I was glad I finished somewhat strong, and felt an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. I managed a 7:05 time and 4th in one of the "old man" categories of 50-59 age group. I will never forget my first Ultra in Helena, Montana. Run it, You'll love it!
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August 11th, 2011 5:01 pm
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