A lot of ultra runners joke that they signed up for an ultra race after having one too many drinks. I signed up for my first 100 mile race at 8 weeks postpartum. I guess 9 months of conservative running made me a little drunk on the idea of running my first 100.
I signed up for the Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run in Virginia along the Creeper Trail because it is being hosted by my trail running friends, and I will have so much love and support from the Yeti community along the journey. The course is meant to be an “easy” first 100 along an old railroad bed, which is exactly how I want to run 100 miles, easily.
On June 4, a bunch of yetis completed a 33 mile training run of the course and I took over 100 pictures. Don’t worry, I selected my favorite 62 to post here. Haha. But seriously, I am using this post as a way to get to know the course and remember it a few months from now when I get ready to run 100 miles of this beautiful Creeper Trail in Virginia.
My husband and I arrived around 10 pm on Friday night, and we stayed at the Hampton Inn in Abingdon. Cadence was a good sport for the drive, but our 5 hour drive quickly became 6+ hours with all of the baby stops to nurse, get dinner, change diapers, etc.
We met the group at 8:45 am on Saturday at White Top Station. The Creeper Trail starts at White Top Station and ends in Abingdon, Virginia. One leg of the course is about 33 miles, so the 100 mile race will go from White Top to Abingdon, back to White Top, and end again in Abingdon.
Jason, the Race Director and king of the Yetis, gave instructions and tips at the start and along the run. He mostly just encourages as much fun and beer as possible, which is just another good reason to run 100 miles.
The trail is mostly crushed limestone, and not technical, so it is really easy to fly through the first downhill leg of the race. Jason cautioned us to take the first 33 miles slow and easy, even though we will be tempted to fly.
Near the top of White Top Station is a side trail where you can get a view of a Christmas tree farm. I stayed with a larger group of trail runners for the first few miles.
Within the first few miles we spotted a really pretty waterfall/rapids area and decided to dip our toes (except for Jason, who got all the way in the water).
And then we were off again! I ran with Kristen and Sean (bottom of the three pictures below) after about two hours of running, and I stayed with them until we reached Damascus. It turns out that Kristen is a pretty badass mother runner! She has a 16 year old, a 4 year old, and twin 2 year olds! Sean is pretty badass himself, having run Western States and Leadville, among other tough races. What a fun marriage they have!
There is an aid station at mile 6.3 (which is also 60.5 and 73.1), which is around this area.
Then we came into the Taylor’s Valley region. Jason warned us that as beautiful as this area is, at night it can be creepy because there is a dog that barks.
Having much fun! I had such a great time running both with groups and with individuals. So much to talk about on a run!
Apparently you can get a killer fried bologna sandwich at the Creeper Trail Cafe. This is about 10 miles from White Top. Kristen and I decided to pass on the opportunity.
The first half of the trail felt much more shaded by dense trees.
Before reaching Damascus, the trail runs along the highway. It’s not as aesthetic, but it does serve as a good way to break up the scenery. Somewhere between Taylor’s Valley and Damascus, I tripped on a rock and supermanned across the trail. This is probably the worst fall I’ve had running, and the dirt is still embedded in my hands five days later. (But no permanent damage and I’m ok!) There is a fresh water spring piped out of the side of the mountain along this road. I used it to clean my wounds, but it is also great to refill water packs.
Yay! Damascus! This is about at the halfway point. There are a few little shops and some small restaurants. There is an aid station here at mile 17.4 (which is also 49.4 and 84.2).
When we got to Damascus, I said goodbye to Kristen and Sean and found a bathroom with a bench to pump at the Sundog Outfitters store. They were incredibly accommodating to me, and I had no problems pumping and dumping with the hand pump that I carried in my pack.
I picked up a flatbread sandwich at Subway and walked and ate until I met up with some of the yetis who had stopped for lunch. I walked with them for a few minutes (long enough to catch Jason chasing lunch with a shot of fireball).
Then Sam and I decided to head off and run our way to the end. I had met Sam in the early miles of our run, but lost her when she sped up to the front. Lucky for me, she took a break in Damascus to find tacos, and I was able to catch up with her.
Sam and I ran together from Damascus to Abingdon, and I am so thankful to have met my new friend! She knows so much about running and so many other interesting things in life. She’s also a really strong runner, and it was great to be paced by her.
The second half of the course has a lot more farmland, and there are bigger stretches of exposed trail where the sun can get pretty hot.
We came into Alvarado at around mile 25. It was starting to get pretty toasty here.
This trestle crossing alone makes the whole race worth it! There are 141 trestle crossings in the race, making scenery big reward for the hard work.
Sam and I tried a timer on the camera, but I was a bit off. This river is so beautiful! I am thankful that I had my friend to share it with!
Crossing through lots of farmland. Beautiful but hot! The elevation starts to go slightly uphill around mile 27. There are no tough hills along this course. Just gradual down, and gradual up.
I ran out of water about 6 miles from our finish. I was trying to be brave and act like it was no big deal, but I was hurting. Between the heat and my boobs diverting all of the liquid in my body to produce breast milk, I was thirsty!
Luckily, we came across an extremely charming cabin with an equally charming older woman who generously filled my hydration bladder with fresh, cold well water. Mmm mmm!
So then I ran with water sloshing in my belly for the rest of the course. There are lots of bikers and some horse back riders along the trail, and everyone is so nice. Different sections have different concentrations of people. The last aid station is at the Watauga Trestle which is at mile 29.4 (which is also 37.4 and 96.2).
And then we reached the end of our ~33 mile training run along the Creeper Trail!
We’ll be seeing this view twice on the day(s) of the race! 30 hour cut-off!
Here is another one of my new friends, Jenny, who finished just after Sam and I completed the course. We all sat around and talked about running after finishing, and this lady has quite an impressive resume! Not to mention that she is just as sweet as she is beautiful!
And here are the real railroad tracks that led us to a cool drink!
So that’s it! I am so thankful that I was able to join the yetis for this great training run! I feel so much more prepared for the race now that I have experienced the course. I know I have some work to do as I focus on training, and I can’t wait!
This is the elevation profile. We’ll run down, up, and back down. Look out quads!
See you friends on September 30, 2016!
Has anyone else run a 100 mile race?
What did your training look like? This is going to be an interesting training season for me, as I balance having a baby, work, and training. Thankfully, my husband is super supportive of me.