Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Elements

I was recently reminded how weather conditions can make a race, no matter how many times you have already done it, a completely different experience than before. Though I have yet to really run anywhere where the elements are that extreme, I found it quite surprising just how varied the conditions have been in an a moderate climate like that of the mid Atlantic. So, looking back through my running, here is a list of the most extreme weather I have experienced while running.

2010 Elizabeth's Furnace 50k.

Ah yes, the notorious 2010 event saw possibly the worst creek crossings I have ever seen. After days of rain, combined with snow melt, the gentle creeks of Fort Valley turned into white capped rivers. Groups of runners had to link arms to fight the strong current, and a couple folks got briefly swept down stream. Only a handful of us completed the full 50k distance, but the adventure was worth it.

2009 Massanutten 100. The day saw not just one, but two major thunderstorms, including an onslaught of hail and lightning. Running 100 miles over rocks is hard enough, but even harder when hey are wet, and you are soaked to the core.

2009 Swinging Bridge 50k. -2 degrees at the start. At least the stream crossings were frozen solid. Only 19 runners completed the full 50k.

2014 Willis River 50k (formerly Swinging Bridge). Mid 40's temps and pouring rain all morning, combined with 12 high creek crossings meant only 12 people would finish the 50k. Most runners suffered from falls in the mud, getting lost, hypothermia, falling into chilly waters, and even getting swept down stream.

2006 Promise Land 50k. Thunder and lightning greeted runners at the start, cold rain lasted most of the morning, but at least Apple Orchard falls was in its full glory.

2008 The Ring. Runners got soaked by several hours of rain from a passing tropical storm in the early morning. But, it was relatively warm.