2017-04-08 - Bull Run Run 50 Miler

~46 miles @ ~16.0 min/mi

label"But you have to finish to win it!" Bull Run Run race director Anstr Davidson piles on the pressure, and the mystery, by telling me before the race that "something special" awaits at the end of my 10th BRR — he refuses to say what.

When I cross the line almost 13 hours later, though, Anstr shakes my hand, shakes his head, and says: "We messed up!" (He actually uses a stronger verb.) Monogrammed swag, a felt jacket with my name and Tenth Finish, didn't get ordered. It arrives a few weeks later.

"No worries!" I reassure Anstr. It's all good — like every Bull Run Run!
Bluebells are out in full force this spring, and recent rains make for high streams and significant mud. Veteran ultrarunner James Moore hangs with me for the first several miles. We chat about our families; he and his wife Rebecca have been married about a dozen years longer than Paulette and I. (See 2017-01-01 - VHTRC Red Eye 50k for a photo of their, uh, tights.) As runners stack up and long lines form to cross the tributary creeks James banters, "There goes a 10 hour finish!" and later, "There goes an 11 hour finish!"

A few miles later the route turns back at mile ~8.2, Cub Run. This year follows the "High Water Course", with extra mileage added at the southern end to make up for the early northern turnaround. The last time flooding required this change was in 2005, a year that might have been my first BRR but for a torn toe tendon ten days before the event.

Tim Stanley (22 finishes) and Bill Wandel (19 finishes) hang with me for a while. We discuss the history of the race and their experiences. Pretty flowers mandate a photo pause. Passing runners laugh.
labelThe Marina aid station at mile ~19 is decorated with feather boas. One attacks!

Enthusiastic volunteers cheer runners onward, offer food and drink, refill bottles, and take photos. The inestimable Janet Choi is here. On the return trip, mile ~41, she gives me an icy-wet towel to help chill my feverish head. TY, JC!

On the way back after the Marina I pass Jeffrey Klemm, who is suffering from bad tummy troubles; I offer him sustenance but he declines. After the race he writes to share a blast-from-the-past story. Jeffrey wondered if he might be the oldest to finish BRR as his first 50 miler. He discovered that Joachim "Al" Grigull — who ran with me in Bull Run Run 2007 — won that honor with his initial 50 in 2004 at age 67. Joachim has since died; Jeff chatted with his widow, and discovered further "Small World" connections. Nice!
The Wolf Run Shoals aid station, mile ~24 (outbound) and ~37 (returning), features a Halloween theme. Kind friend Kate Abbott, who ran BRR with me in 2009, 2010, and 2011, is working here. "Great to see you, Kate!"

Deadfalls are a challenge this year, a few days after high winds and heavy rains. I in the background of this photo with a giant skull a big tree lies across the trail. Excelsior!
labelAn old Ford Fairlane lies abandoned on the "Do Loop" near mile 31. I've been here many times with friends during training runs — 2008-08-23 - Lost in the Woods, 2009-03-31 - Lost in the Woods Again, and most recently 2017-02-18 - Death by Do Loop with Stephanie.

But during the BRR the route is well-marked, so even all alone for many miles there's no worry. And now, it's Selfie Time!
A Nash Rambler rusts in the woods near mile ~32 of the BRR "Do Loop". Approaching it I catch up with Bill Smith. Surprise! — like me, he works for MITRE Corporation. "Any relation to Will D. Smith?" - "I wish!"

We pause to take pics of each other with the giant Hello Kitty balloon. This year is the 25th running of the Bull Run Run. Happy Birthday!
label"I have a new Power Animal", I text a dear friend, and share this picture. "Her name is Hello Kitty!" Then the phone battery runs down and it's time to get serious. On the return trip to the finish line I push hard, make the cutoffs with several minutes to spare, and pass several folks who are having a rough day. Comrade Bill Smith perseveres and crosses the line just a few minutes past the 13 hour mark.

The "Complex Roots of Unity" (a mathematics joke) wins the Slowest Team Award this year. I do my part to pull the average down; faster comrades Bruce Platter, Steve Gadd, and Ray Hunley all make it back far ahead of me.
With 10 finishes I'm tied on the all-time list at 44th-67th place; by age among this year's entrants I'm in 19th-20th place. The finishing time is my 8th fastest, good enough for 264th among 285 who make it all the way. The ^z BRR streak of never-a-DNF continues — yay!

  12:25:06 — 2007
  12:50:18 — 2008
  11:39:50 — 2009
  11:22:06 — 2010
  11:55:25 — 2011
  12:28:38 — 2013
  12:24:45 — 2014
  12:07:05 — 2015
  12:54:27 — 2016
  12:38:28 — 2017

(photo by Bryan Zelley)

(first segment of the total trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-28