Sunday, May 19, 2013

Race 35 Twisted Ankle Half Marathon

This race was hard.  In my quest to do 100 races, this was number 35.  It was the most difficult, by far.

The day started out very early as we made the 100 mile drive to Sloppy Floyd State Park.  Upon entry into the park we stopped by the park ranger, paid the $5 park entry fee, had no trouble finding a parking spot, and had plenty of time before the race started.

As usual the race director, Becky (remember her name, you'll see why in a bit) called us all together just prior to the start to go over things to be aware of.  Becky does a wonderful job putting this race together, she is one of the best.

Becky giving last minute instructions
I do believe I took away the most important thing she mentioned - just follow the blue strips hanging from trees and you won't get lost.  That was good because numerous times over the 13.1 miles when I was by myself, wondering if still on the right trail - I'd see a hanging blue strip and knew I was not lost in forest : )

We were off.  First mile was around the lake, the second mile was through  the camping area.  In the camping area, smelling the bacon & eggs, I thought - this is borderline cruel and unusual punishment : )  Next we were off into the forest.

At around mile 3 we passed the old Marble Mine, a dip in the reflection pool would have felt pretty good at that point.

Marble Mine on the trail
So at this point the race was still "easy" and "fun".  However, we were quickly approaching Becky's (the RD, the name I mentioned earlier) Bluff.  Becky's Bluff is no joke - it is HARD!  Putting into perspective, here are my mile times for the first few miles:

Mile 1    12:15
Mile 2    13:15
Mile 3    13:45
Mile 4    28:38

There were a few foothills leading up to this elevation gain and your brain starts thinking "oh this must be it", only to discover it's not Becky's Bluff yet.  However, there is no doubt in your mind when you ARE there.
All I can say, it was hard.

At the top of Becky's Bluff we started an out and back rolling elevation changing ridge line.  The inclines were tough but nowhere near as tough as what we just did.  Following are a few shots from on the ridge line:

Seeing the blue ribbon was comforting

I think it was about mile 8 or so, my legs did not want to go anymore.  They were just tired.  The elevation gain really took a lot out of me.  You really start questioning why you're doing this.  Pretty much by this point, mile splits, finishing time, mean nothing.  You simply just want to finish.

One of the really nice parts of this race was on the out and back on the ridge line.  It made me think of a really old advertisement pitch by Honda (I think this was from the 1960s).  Their ad saying was "You meet the nicest people on a Honda".  Well during that out and back I thought "you meet the nicest people in a trail race".  As I was still on the "out" part, many were on the "back" part.  The amount of "good job", "looking good", "doing great", thumbs up,... from the folks as we crossed on the trail was amazing.

I was very happy to finish this race and the pizza & coke afterwards were delicious!  But in hindsight, what I liked the most about this race was the t-shirt we got:

What a great t-shirt!


  1. Wow... Becky's Bluff does look hard. I like the box of bananas at the "Aid Station".

    1. Yeah Mike - although they did have aid stations with the usual trail race stuff, this one was a fun one to place up on the ridge line in between!

  2. Cool shirt and discription. I liked the picture of the bannanas. Congrats on the race!

    1. Thanks Bill. I smiled when I took the shirt out of the race goody-bag and saw that design, I'm sure that was Becky's idea!

  3. I too will say, "good job, looking good, doing great, thumbs up,... I pity the poor person who had to carry the box of bananas up the hill. Congratulations on completing race #35.

    1. Thanks Dan - actually they had an ATV for the bananas & aid station stuff on top of the ridge. I'm not so sure an ATV could make it up Becky's Bluff though, but there were other trails on the back side that zigged & zagged at a more acceptable grade - that we came down from the ridge on.

  4. What a major change in the trail - Way to persevere! And thanks for telling such an engaging story. What I want to know is:
    1- Did you get a pair of spiffy cat eye glasses like Becky's? and
    2- Who exactly is Sloppy Floyd that they named a state park after him? :-)

    1. Thanks Cyndy!

      Now a pair of those glasses in the "goody" bag would have been special! No glasses but we did get a temporary "Twisted Ankle Trail Run" tattoo!

      I had to google Sloppy Floyd :) Wikipedia had "The park is named after Democrat James H. 'Sloppy' Floyd who served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1953 until 1974 and was from the area". Actually I never even heard of him before Twisted Ankle. It sure is a nice park - too bad it's 100 miles away.