Thursday, June 23, 2016

RACE REPORT: Native Jackal Trail Marathon

I ran only the last marathon
The fifth and final marathon of the Jackal Trail Marathons, near Jackson, TN, is the toughest of five marathons in five consecutive days from Saturday thru Wednesday, and it will certainly test the human heart.

I've run 20+ marathons, but yesterday's marathon was by far the hardest I've run. I've run 50Ks with more elevation gain over an hour faster. 

This marathon differed from all the rest based on one factor: HEAT. And horseflies. As if 26.53 miles is not enough, welcome to increasing heat and horseflies on every 2.65 mile loop that must be run 10 times.

One hundred and four degrees heat index by 3:13 p.m.

We started at 8:30 a.m. I finished at 4:00 p.m. 3 hours drive one way. Bananas and Ensure on the drive up. Hot wings, fries and coke on the way home. 6 hours of loud music. 7 hours & 30 minutes of testing. I passed. I resisted quitting for hours. A handful of times I thought I may get to the point of danger and quit out of fear for my health. 

It subsided. 

Photo: Karl Studtmann
I took pictures throughout the first loop when the course was shaded and spirits were high. Very few horseflies then. I took my pepper spray like I try to do now on every run. In a state park, what could happen?

Two loud-barking and charging dogs at the top of the longest hill. That's what could happen. Great! Only have to pass them 9 more times! I was ready. Each pass, I pulled out my spray and ran confidently by the house while my strength weakened in the heat of the day. 

So glad I had it.

Another thing I was glad I had by the end of the run was my frogg togg towel. Not necessarily because I could squeeze water out of it onto my head occasionally, which was helpful, but because I could swing it like a horse's tail to fight off the yellow jackets and biting flies. By the 8th loop, I really wondered if the bugs would not be the cause of me choosing to quit.