Geoff was up on time and dressed, I was dressed and ready to go as well. I decided on the off chance (fat chance) that my stomach would start to move again, I would just get ready and dressed like I was going to run anyway.
As we arrived at Frozen Head State Park, I could tell Geoff was ready! His excitement was palatable. I wandered off to the finish line asking if I had a major dehydration problem if there was in fact a quick way back to the starting line. At worst I thought I could hike to the first aid station and then hike my way back, looking at the map last night I realized that no matter where I decided to quit, I would still have to physically get myself back out of the forest. This was confirmed by a nurse at the finish line. (As a matter of fact someone broke their ankle out on the course and had to be air lifted out because the trails are so hard to navigate.)
Not wanting to be that runner who was already 2 days dehydrated, and decided to risk other people rescuing her because she passed out somewhere in back country trails, I grabbed some extra clothes and went to find Mike Dobies. Remembering he had said he was volunteering, I thought I could lend a hand somehow. I hiked up the road with him, and Joe Fejes! (how cool!) Joe does mostly track or timed events, but even he couldn’t resist a day in the woods with old friends. After they went on their way, I hiked back to the park office and hitched a ride over to aid station 2/3.
To my surprise Carl Laniak was the a/s captain, we didn’t get to chat much about his Barkley adventures, but it was good to meet him anyway. Besides, this aid station kept me quite entertained all day. The front half of the runners knew what they had gotten themselves into, their faces all painted in determination, barely said a word as they filled their water bottle. Our aid station advertised itself as being mile 12/18 (because you leave from the aid station and loop back again to it.) The front half of the racers were mentally prepared, the back half, however, noticed quite loudly that their garmins had much higher mileage readings. I guess some people aren’t aware of Horton or Laz miles..?
It was really fun to chat with the runners, and the local high school football team that was there helping.
I stayed past Ringo coming and leaving, waiting till almost every runner was through, and then hopped onto quitters road back to the finish to try to see Ringo at the next aid station.
Of course through out all the excitement I had forgotten how woozy and dehydrated I was, and I ate it…hard on that little technical trail. I got a little dizzy, miss stepped and rolled my way down a few steep feet on some rocks. It left me quite bruised and even more embarrassed…fortunately there was no one around to see my epic-1-mile-an-hour-run-fall.
I missed Ringo though the next aid station, so I continued my jog to the start/finish and tried to drink a bit of a smoothie and take a small nap. I ended up, instead, watching all the finishers. It was so nice to see all the hard core women roll through, all beat up, and cut up from the briars..but always a smile on their faces!
Though I was unable to participate in the Barkley Fall Classic, I still left TN with a smile on my face. There is nothing like a good trail adventure, with some good trail folk.
I’m so glad to have met Mike, Joe, Dan, and Carl “out there.” Hopefully next year I will be back, on the other side of the aid station table next time!