March 29, 2007

Old Friend

Umstead 100-Miler, my favorite ultra, is Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.

Well, it starts Saturday. I will still be out there Sunday until at least 4 a.m., and probably longer.

I have finished the 100-mile distance there seven times and made it to 50 miles two or three other times. All have been memorable. I have been out there during hurricane winds complete with rain blowing sideways (really neat for the 10 minutes; totally sucks once the temp drops 37 degrees!). Remember the Hail-Bop Comet? Yep, chased that puppy all night long in 1996, I think. One of the most amazing skies I have seen. I have had the same hallucination in separate years (MAN how did they build that condo out there along that power line???). I have fallen asleep running there and awakened before falling down. I have managed to finish fast enough to beat daylight a couple times, one of the coolest feats in ultrarunning.

Most of all, I have forged some dear, dear friendships in those North Carolina woods. Ben Clark, Brian Clark, Lee Cox, Will Brown, Tom Green, Missy Heeb, Shelly and Andy Wunsch, my buddy Bob Ring, Dennis Hamrick, Aaron Goldman, Leo Lightner. That's just the short list of people I have had the honor of playing in the dirt with there. Umstead is all those folks, and so much more. It's race director Blake Norwood and his wife Myra. It's top-notch aid stations with the kindest volunteers and the best food.

All packed and ready. Heading out tomorrow morning. Psyched beyond psyched.

Umstead is an old friend. Umstead is home.

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