We couldn’t end 2015 with two DNF’s on our record. Carrie and I had a new determination and immediately talked about signing up for Lookout Mountain 50 Miler on our way home with our Pine Mountain DNF. We had been within 12 miles of finishing that race and we knew we could do this.
We signed up knowing that our friend Tom was also running it and trying to complete his first 50 miler. Tom is a strong runner and we were happy to run with him and see him to the finish of his first 50 mile race and earn our much anticipated redemption. We drove up together early that morning. The weather was perfect and we had heard that this was a beautiful course. Lisa had run it just the year before as her first 50 miler and talked about how much she loved the race.
Adding up the miles, we had just attempted a 100 miler the previous month and just 2 weeks prior had run 34 tough miles, our legs probably could have used more rest. Runners don’t always make the best decisions and sometimes emotions play into the equation. The race started and we were off. A beautiful course indeed as we enjoyed the early morning hours on the side of Lookout Mountain overlooking Chattanooga, TN. Those were some of my favorite miles of the course and my favorite type of trails to run; single track technical. It was stunning. Eventually down the mountain and to our first AS. We all grabbed what we wanted quickly and were off. The next section was flat and should have been a great place for us to run good. I think Carrie and I had tired legs and we walk/ran this section but still moved at a very good pace. After the next AS it’s a big, and I mean BIG climb back to the top of the mountain and back to the race start area. We all kept moving and did well getting back up the mountain well before any cutoff at mile 21.
From there we were off to a long out and back section of the course. The next part being mostly downhill, we got some good running in and eventually dropped into another one of the prettiest parts of the course. It was a climb out of there that you need a rope to get up, but once on top, the view was unbelievable
We had another few miles to the next AS. Here we had drop bags and then a 5-6 mile loop that would return us to the AS and our drop bags one more time. This looped proved not to be quit as easy as others told us it would. Some climbs in here although a very pretty section. Soon our friend Tom as beginning to really slow down and struggled with his legs hurting. We gave him some Magnesium and Aleve to try and turn things around for him but he kept falling back. Soon Tom told us to go ahead and Carrie and I knew we had to press on. This was our redemption as much as we wanted to help him finish his race. Back off the loop we grabbed our headlamps from our drop bags to keep going. It was another 12 miles to the finish and we needed to keep moving. Our focus now was to get down the rope section before dark. We continued on our pace, Carrie and I determined more than ever. We didn’t feel the cutoff pressure because we were running ahead of that, but it was the DNF monkey on us that seemed to keep choking us. Just as it was getting dark we make it down the rope section and to the final AS. It was a long stretch back from there to the finish, but we knew we had time and kept up a good pace even when it got dark. We seemed to be not far from other runners during this whole section and even passed a few as we kept on the move. Just a mile or so away from the finish my light started to go out. I knew we were close and I needed to push on. It was very dark out and I didn’t want to have to finish with no light. I pushed hard and finally made it across that finish line smelling the victory. Carrie cross just a few minutes after me and we celebrated together waiting for our friend Tom to claim his first 50 mile finish. This race does not give you a single second over the finish time so we nervously waited for Tom to finally cross the finish. And we got a sweet hoodie that’s one of our favorites and one we wear with the most pride.