The course will be the same as last year: Beginning and ending at the Stone Door Ranger Station, with 26.2 miles of the most brutal, unforgiving, rocky, steep terrain you could imagine in between.
The Savage Gulf Marathon fit perfectly on my training schedule in preparation for my April 22nd race. The weekend of Savage Gulf (SG), I had 31 miles on my training plan. I knew that SG would be a difficult event. It would feel like a moderate 50K. So rather than run in Percy Warner for 6 hours, SG it was!
A few fun facts from the day:
- 4-5 slippery, swinging bridges to cross
- 4-5 water crossings, enough water to get your feet wet
- 62 degree high for the day
- ROCKS. ROCKS. ROCKS. ROCKS. ROCKS. R O C K S.
- 4 aid stations on course. Food/water/soda at the end.
- wet, muddy course
- 29 men
- 14 women
I’ll break this up by my selection of sections.
Miles 0-2.5 very runnable and non-technical. You had better start out running! I settled into the back of the pack. For this race, especially, I wanted to have the space to s l o w down on the rocks. The rocks were slippery and the trail was muddy and wet, due to rain.
Miles 2.5-5 so, so rocky. You head down the Stone Door, a steep, stone, staircase decent. The rocks were slippery. I was very cautious. I did not want to hurt my ankle. I was pretty discouraged at this point (mile 2.5!) because I had to walk this section. I continued to scale rocks until the first aid station around mile 6.3. My average pace from 0-6.3 was approximately 14.55.
Miles 6.8-11 was a climb up, moderate at times, steep for sections. SURPRISE! More rocks. Boulders. Teeter-Totter rocks. Medium rocks. My average pace for this section was 17:12.
Miles 11-18 for the first time in the race that I was able to run on the smaller rocks for a longer period of time. The last 2 miles down to aid station #3 at mile 18 was all runnable. I finally started to get in a better mental place. My average pace for this section was 15:50.
Miles 18-23.6 great runnable section was now gone, enter MORE rocks!! Oh my goodness. At this point, I was so over the rocks. You guys, the rocks were the trail. Good grief. Then from about mile 22.6 to 23.6 was the last steep climb out of the Savage Gulf. I was actually in good shape to hike this one. My heart was beating fast. It was like my body was generating energy to either breathe or keep my heart beating. I pushed the hike and kept my fingers crossed for the last 3 miles of the race!! My average pace for this section was 19:21.
Miles 23.6-26.2 RUNNABLE! I decided to see what I could do with the last 3 miles. It was great running. For the most part, NO MORE ROCKS. Definitely, not as technical. It was hard, but I pushed the pace. I worked very hard. My average pace for this section was 10:00. I was really stoked for that pace!
My stats: 6:57:33. #6 lady out of 14. #29 out of 43 total. 4,330′. (joyful exhale)
Running fills a need so we make fewer demands on others. Running reveals the roots of negative thinking, so the weeds can be pulled. Running reconnects the soul to the source, inspiring hope and creativity.