|"You are all such badasses!" says the woman hiking with trekking poles at mile 27. Reply: "Uh, thank you — but there are still 4 miles to go." Hmmmm, more practice needed in accepting compliments without self-deprecation or argument!|
It's the VHTRC "PB&J 50k", a soggy trek along the trails of Prince William Forest Park in northern Virginia. Comrades Stephanie Fonda and Gaynor Bourgeois run most of it together; Stephanie's ankle is injured and she toughs it out to finish only a few minutes behind me. Jennifer Hotchkiss chats near the start, then blasts ahead but later goes off-course, suffers bad foot problems, falls a couple of times, and declares victory at mile ~27. I trip on a root and plop into the mud at mile ~4 while admiring the whitewater flood-rapids in Quantico Creek.
Giant white toadstools by the Turkey Run Ridge Trail ("phallic mushrooms" as somebody describes them) decorate the course. Loud rushing water in the stream sounds like a washing machine on max-heavy-load cycle. Drizzle turns into moderate-heavy rain mid-morning, then fades away. Flooded puddles on the trail get bigger when the showers stop as water drains down from the hillsides. Wooden bridges and walkways over swampy zones are slippery-dangerous.
"But they're VEGAN anchovies!" says Quatro Hubbard, offering optional toppings for the Everything bagel I snag at the mile 22 aid station. And "Way Down Yonder in the Paw-Paw Patch!", the classic children's song, plays on the mental jukebox after mile 30 where a couple of runners are in the woods by the trail, "Pickin' up Pawpaws". At the finish line pavilion, Gaynor persuades me to eat part of one; it's rather banana-like in texture and flavor.
Pushing hard on the final four miles brings a finish under 7.5 hours total time. No selfies with the waterfall in the background - maybe another day!
And the Recovery of Champions: on the way home, Gaynor takes us through a Burger King drive-through window in Lorton and kindly buys Diet Cokes for all and fried onion rings for me - Thank You!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-10-29