While the rest of us congratulate ourselves for walking one mile or climbing a flight of stairs without being winded, there are people who run 100 miles just for fun. Well, that and a sense of accomplishment. The Hellbender 100 is an ultramarathon in North Carolina that not only spans 100 miles, but also incorporates five climbs of 3,000 feet or more. Brendan Leonard takes us along as he runs that race.
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Somewhere around mile 62, around 2:30 in the morning, I realized I hadn’t seen another light in about an hour: no other runners, no houses, no car headlights, nothing besides the little headlamp bubble of light in front of me. I had kept my headlamp dimmed to conserve the battery, just chugging along through the forest, jogging with my trekking poles in my hands. The entire trail had been covered in fallen leaves for miles, and it occurred to me a few times that I could be totally lost, but every time I started to worry, another little orange course-marker flag would pop up. I was totally alone and would continue to be unless I sat down for an hour and waited for another runner to show up.
It was dead quiet—no wind, no sounds besides my feet shuffling through the wet leaves and my breathing. If an animal had stepped on a stick 80 feet away, I would have heard it. I had been moving for 22 hours, and I felt OK, aside from my soaking-wet feet and the beginnings of the fatigue that sets in when you’ve been going that long. I started thinking about the completely dark, dead-quiet forest and being totally alone. For a half-second, my brain flashed to an idea, completely out of nowhere: this was a horror-movie scene, and a crazed killer with an ax or another implement of destruction would come rushing at me from the dark forest, totally surprising me because my headlamp was so dim.
It won’t take you near as long to read about the 100 miles as it took Leonard to run it, at Outside Online. -via Digg
(Image credit: Brendan Leonard)