Today, I ran the Table Rock Ultra 50k at the Steele Creek Camp ground just above Morganton. This was a tough race on me. I finished in 6 hours and 15 minutes and 34th overall. I didn’t do as well as I wanted but I achieved both of my goals. I got in a tremendous climbing, and I brought home an awesome hooded pullover shirt.
My plan was to go up last night, but I had to work late. I couldn’t see myself driving up to arrive around 8:30 PM. Then, setup my tent in the dark only to pull it down by 6 AM this morning. I opted for just getting up early and driving up this morning.
The race started at 7 AM so navigating the trails were a bit rough during the early pre-sun rise miles. Then, the course opened up to a grassy road for about 3 miles. This was followed by a gravel road for several more miles until we finally picked up some trail miles. Here’s where we started the stream crossings. The water was cold. Really cold.
They did a pretty good job marking the course with blue ribbons. I only got turned around once, and I back to tracked to the last ribbon. I then did a 180 sweep of the trail and spotted the next one for crossing the stream.
About 10 miles, we popped out on another gravel road for some good climbing and some good descending. About 17 miles, we started the climb up to Table Rock. This part of the trail was toughest. I pretty much power hiked this section as best that I could to the top. I have to say that the view from the top was spectacular. My race was already a struggle so I took the moment to take in the view. I have to learn to enjoy these moments.
A bunch of runners took advantage of the downhill and rolled by me. Maybe I could have run a little faster during this section but the risk vs. reward wasn’t there for me. I have bigger races coming up, and turning ankle, breaking a leg, or worse was not worth it for me.
After the Table Rock climb section, we ran another trail section before picking up the gravel road back to the final aid station. Here we had a few more stream crossing but the cold water felt great on tired and hot feet. Hurting the runners, the sun was now out strong and heating everyone up. The last 5 miles roasted everyone.
I was happy when I finally popped out on the final section back to the finish. I could now relax and forget about any more roots and rocks to the finish.
Coming in to the race, they sent several emails. They talked about how tough back country trails were, and they talked about the potential for bees on the course. Yeah, some their trails were highly technical, but I never saw any bees. Thankfully, I never got stung.
Outside of the 4 mile out and back climb to the top of Table Rock, the majority of the course is runnable. The stream crossings are what they are. Just slow down and wade across to the other side. But be prepared to do some climbing. There is a lot of it.
Kickin’ up trail dust,
The Cool Down Runner