run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Spectating The Barkley Fall Classic

The blood is under the caked dirt.

On Saturday, The KoB and I loaded up the pups and headed to Frozen Head State Park. The KoB's brother (who I will be referring to as Kool-Aid), was running/hiking/surviving (hopefully) the Barkley Fall Classic.

 Kool-Aid is also Papa to this adorable nugget.
Gratuitous Niece Pic.

What is the Barkley Fall Classic you ask?
It's a 50K put on by the same guy that does the Barkley Marathons (Remember that Race/Documentary I blogged about a few months ago? Yeah, same guy, same course-ish, but a 50K+ instead of 120 miles). Unlike the Barkley Marathons, you can just log on and sign up to race the Fall Classic, which is what Kool-Aid did. 

From the race sign up page:
if you are one of those people who have followed the infamous barkley marathons over the years,
and had this secret itch to get a taste of those trails and that experience; this is your chance. it will not be easy. the trails are many of the same trails featured in the original Barkley. the core race is roughly 31 miles (with about 20,000 feet of elevation change)
Piece O' Cake, eh?

Anyway, when we got to the finish line, only a few people had finished the 50K. There was an option of doing the "Marathon" finish (which was more like 30+ miles long) and getting an official finish for that or for doing the entire 50K (which was more like 35+ miles long). We settled in with our snacks and our dogs and waited and cheered on the finishers.

Yup, Leo was on top of the picnic table.

The guy that parked next to us finished the "Marathon" and was eager to chat. So, we talked to him for a good bit. He gave us some good descriptions of the race and the course and also scared us a bit, by telling us that he saw some people who were pretty bad off along the course. He also told us about Rat Jaw.
From the AWESOME Barkley Marathons Resource that is Matt Mahoney's website:

Rat Jaw in April.

Matt Mahoney's Description of Rat Jaw:
 Rat Jaw climbs 1000 feet in 1/2 mile under some powerlines and past some abandoned coal mines. The ground is covered with mats of cut-down sawbriers. In some places there is a downed powerline that can be used as a climbing rope. Otherwise you have to climb with your hands, and the thorns draw blood. 

The guy we were talking to said it took him 2 hours to get up Rat Jaw. TWO HOURS OF THAT SHIT!!!!!

The entrance to the field where the finish was.

The dogs were getting a little antsy, so we decided to walk them around a little bit. We were making our way back to the car, when I heard some people clapping and then I heard The KoB yell: GO KOOL-AID (well, he used his name, not his nickname. obvs). I started running over to the car to get my camera and made it just in time to get a terrible pic of his backside as he finished.

Yeah.... Skilled photographer, I am not.

 He was covered from the waist down in mud.

 But, aside from that... looked pretty damn good!

He finished the "Marathon" and was definitely a little disappointed that he didn't finish the 50K. But, I think his disappointment was quickly intercepted by being glad that he was done and realizing that he would be back out there next year to finish the 50K.

How'd you get so damn dirty, Kool-Aid?
"I fell and rolled 20 feet down Rat Jaw."

We walked over with him to our car and he asked about showers. We weren't sure, but The KoB jokingly mentioned that there was a creek through the woods. And I guess a trot through the woods was nothing compared to what he'd just gone through, because Kool-Aid immediately started walking through the woods.

He came back a couple minutes later a little cleaner.

He told us about the race: falling down Rat Jaw and later seeing someone fall off the side of one of the hills and seriously jacking up his ankle. He said after getting up Rat Jaw, then you have to CLIMB A FIRETOWER, just to get your bib punched and then head back down it. He told us about the part where you run THROUGH the prison. THE INSIDE OF THE PRISON and into a dark cell to get your bib punched.

Brushy Creek State Penitentiary
Closed in 2009.

He also told us about how frustrated he was that he missed the time cut-off for the 50K at the last aid stop. He told us how unimaginably hard the race was. And when The KoB asked what he could have done to train better, Kool-Aid said... Run more hills. 
It's one thing to hear everyone talk about how hard the race is. It makes you think of things that you've done that are hard and you try to compare it to that. To have something to relate to. But, when he told us that he now has NO interest in trying the Barkley Marathons (the 100+ mile race, which he has always wanted to do), that's when it sunk in to me that this thing must have been just ridiculously hard. Kool-Aid said it was the hardest physical day of his life. 

Kool- Aid shared a post race retrospective email from the Race Director yesterday:

Words of Laz:

because that is what sports, and life, is all about.
we never achieve great things by setting small goals.
and success is never guaranteed;
it must be earned.

congratulations to everyone who had the courage to answer the starting cigarette.
respect to anyone who faced down the big rat, and got a finish....

and my hat is off to the special few who *EARNED* the cross.

to those who failed (even the ones who lost their nerve on the way to the starting line)...

the only thing more impressive than finishing a race like BFC
is returning from failure,
and doing what it takes to achieve success.

if it was easy, what would be the point?

Pretty inspiring stuff.

It makes me think about The KoB and Kool-Aid. These two brothers continually push themselves physically. The KoB has completed Leadville 3 times (once under 24 hours!!), he's ran a 2:47 marathon, he's ran at least 2 miles everyday for like 5 years or something (including the day after his sub 24 Leadville finish). And Kool-Aid has Thru-hiked the AT and ran ultras, including this Barkley Fall Classic Marathon. And it's like.... DAMN. They are inspirations and proof that if you work hard and put your mind to it, you can do hard things.

But then it's also like... what in the everloving fuck is wrong with these two brothers?? 

Congrats, Kool-Aid! We'll be there next year to see your 50K finish!


Carina said...

That's awesome. The most "elite" running coach I ever had swore that effort/perseverance was the only difference between runners like us and the elites. He said genetics play a minimal role, it's all about drive, time, practice, priority, etc. Clearly those two have some crazy @ss drive... Congrats to KA on the 31 mile marathon (maybe that's what people are referring to when they ask how long this marathon is?).

Tanya S. said...


Cheryl said...

Good any women run this?

Amy said...

Cheryl: Yup. There were 22 women finishers for the 50K and 18 for the marathon. Those are some bad ass chicks. The 50kers need to get into the real deal!!

Cheryl said...

Now THOSE are some bitches!