Katharine talked me into signing up for Double Dirty Dozen 6 hour race a couple months ago.
Honestly, I wasn't excited about it at first. The idea of running a two mile loop over and over again wasn't hugely appealing. As the event grew closer, I started to see the positives to doing a two mile loop. First of all, aid station every two miles. Heck, yeah! This was awesome. Carried my handheld with some Gatorade and Endurolytes only and got to fuel up with great food every 30 minutes. Secondly, it was nice knowing the course so well after just a lap or two. I knew exactly how hard to push on the hilly sections and when to conserve for a hard section coming up. The first mile of the loop has lots of small steep ups and downs with lots of roots. The last mile has some double track, flat field and flat fast single track. I took the first mile conservatively and then ran hard on the second mile.
One thing I have to mention..the race swag was amazing! I drove to Bluff Creek Trails (where the race is held) on Friday night to pick up my packet and received this HUGE shopping bag that was quite heavy. When I got home and looked inside this is what I found.
Two very nice long sleeved shirts, two Hammer gels, pretzels, business card holder, Recoverite powder, Red Bull, Gatorade, granola bar, ginger chews, flashlight, coupons and other odds and ends. Wow! Chisholm Deupree is the RD and does an amazing job. Exceeded every expectation!
There was several options for runners in this event. You could either do 24 The Hard Way on a 1 mile paved loop and run for 6 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours. Or, do Double Dirty Dozen for 6 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours (for those that like to "do it in the dirt").
The 24 hour race went from 9am Saturday - 9pm Sunday. The 12 hour race went from 6am-6pm. And the 6 hour race was 12pm-6pm. When I left home it was pouring rain and strong winds. I had no idea what it was like 45 minutes north where the race was held but was hoping for the best. The farther north I drove, the more the skies cleared. We ended up with hardly any rain at the race, but it was extremely windy! A few of the tents were blown down and for an hour or two volunteers had to stand and hold down the top of the food tent. God bless volunteers and the people that make these races possible!
I got to the race site at about 11 am and got my lawn chair and bag set up near the start/finish area. Got to chat with a few friends and get my chip on. We started right on time and I settled into a nice easy pace right away. The trails there are pretty and when the wind would blow hard it would blow leaves down all around me and felt kind of magical! The temperature was perfect, about 60 degrees and while I'm sure the wind was a big factor for the people out on the paved loop, for the people doing the trail loop with the trees blocking most of the wind it felt great.
I felt like I flew through first couple of loops as the miles kept ticking by. I was eating something after each loop. Half a banana, orange slices, gummy bears, peanut butter sandwich and a chocolate GU. Nothing hurt and I was completely enjoying myself. Dave surprised me when I was coming in from my 4th loop. I popped out of the woods and there he was with camera pointed at me. I wasn't sure he would be able to make it but there he was and that put a little extra pep in my step. He hung around for a little while and the next loop I got to see and talk to him a bit more before he left.
I was really hoping to go over 26.2 this race and almost made it but not quite. Ended up with 25.3 and got second overall female. Got a beautiful finishers bracelet. I cannot recommend this race enough and will DEFINITELY be doing it every year! Maybe even bump it up to 12 hour next year? Hmmm... : )
Instead of my usual hard rock tunes, this race I changed it up a bit and made a mellow playlist with some country and old favorites. Bellamy Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, Jack Johnson, Zac Brown Band and a few rocks songs thrown in. PERFECT. I'll definitely do this in other long races. Don't know if the other runners thought I was crazy, but I was in such a happy, tired fog the last part of the race that I was singing and having a great ole time.
Next up, Rockledge Rumble 30K on November 13th.
Happy trails to you!