YABRR - Judgement Day 2020 Edition.
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
AKA: The Rachel Edit
Drove all over the place, ran all the miles, ate all the food. Slept
AKA: What I sent to my editor
As always, the important stuff is above the fold.
I need to thank Shellene for letting me do this. I have been suffering from the fact that UTMB was cancelled, and have had little motivation to run since Achilles Hill (actually, before that, but Achilles helped). Also, I need to thank DORBA for letting me pee in their pond. Every cyclist I saw was very supportive of my attempt, I was called "awesome", "crazy" or "stupid" more times than I can count.
I also want to thank a friend who is suffering from Depression at this time. I told them I was running this for them, and I would not give up. The few times I felt like "why am I doing this", they were the answer.
For those who have never heard of Judgement Day, it is an annual DORBA event, 10 trails in 24 hours, with either 70 or 100 miles covered. These are trail miles, so you can never be too sure how many you will really get. They tend to include a mix of outright evil trails, and some fun stuff (of course, I think that those are both the same trails). This year they decided to do a shotgun start, with only Horseshoe being reserved for the last trail. Looking at the map, I had two options. The one that had the least driving would put me in Arlington mid-day (I hate A'Town traffic) and running Murders' Row (Big Cedar, Boulder, OCNP) in the heat of the day. I decided to run the trails in the original order, so at 5:30 I was sitting in a parking lot in Arlington.
River Legacy Park - Trail 1
While I was getting me gear on, I noticed that some riders had already started, and thought that I had three options.
Wait until 6, and then follow the dust cloud
Wait until 6, sprint out and then make every rider pass me, and then follow the dust cloud
Start 15 minutes early (and finish Judgement Day by 5:45AM Sunday), get some running in, giving riders time to create separation before they pass me, and then follow the dust cloud.
So, at 5:45 I started my run, made it 100 yards, stubbed my toe on a root and created a massive dust cloud. It's going to be a long day.
Big Cedar Wilderness - Trail 2
Big Cedar was well marked, and in fantastic shape, especially Pack Mule :-) Since this is a trail that I know very well, and it hadn't gotten hot yet I settled in for a good run. I got to the brick climb on Man Bites Dog and it was a long line of riders walking their bikes up. Now, normally I take this section at an easy pace, but I can be a bit of an asshole when I want, so I yelled "on your left" and sprinted it. I stopped at the top and waited for the riders I had just passed to catch up and complemented each of them (pushing a bike is hard work). At one point I met a pair of riders stopped, the lead rider had called out "copperhead", the following rider almost put his foot down on it. The snake left.
Boulder - Trail 3
This was a simplified version for the folks running the short course, blue trails only on the A&B loops, but you had to run it twice. Since I parked a good way off, I carried an extra soft flask of water, as well as two vest bottles. While running here I got passed by a kid (probably 20-something) wearing a UT jersey multiple times. He was doing the 100, so he'd pass me, hit a red, and end up behind me as I ran the blue. Passed one rider cramping, made sure he'd be ok.
OCNP - Trail 4
For riders that didn't often ride OCNP the lack of signage was probably annoying, I know a few riders accidentally attempted a shortcut. At one point I came across a rider who was "done" and had no idea how to get out. I ran up the trail a bit, spotted the exit signage and called back to him. A little while later I got passed by the UT jersey again, with another rider behind him. Shortly after that I heard the sound that you don't want to hear, a rider had crashed "somewhere". Less than 5 minutes later I found the UT rider in a group, standing next to a rider with his arm tucked into his jersey. He had crashed, gone over the front bars and broke his collarbone (and people ask why I wasn't riding Judgement Day). This happened at the worse place to have to walk out from, and they were trying to figure out the best way to walk out. I told them that I would push his bike, and he said he could handle it. I disagreed and won the argument by the fact that I wouldn't let him (I figure I can take a one armed man in a fight if I have to). We walked about 1/4 mile to where the trail was close to Kiest, and then carefully made it down the embankment, over a small runoff and then up the other side. Getting him and the bikes up took both me and his son working together. Once he was on the street, we figured he'd have no problem walking the bike one-handed. He was going to call his wife for a pickup, so I started running again. I found out yesterday that it was a clean break, he will be having surgery this week. His son finished the 100 before midnight.
Windmill Hill - Trail 5
I had never been here before, it's fun little trail (about 3 miles), with a few climbs. I figured I was now done with Murders' Row
Harry Moss - Trail 6
When I pulled in, there was a DORBA rep there, and she told me that the riders were riding the trail backwards. I told her that since I'd never been there before I wouldn't know the difference. A fun floodplain trail, lots of shade to help recover from all the sunny trails early on. After I left there, I stopped for some real food, and then later on the drive made a second stop for some ice. Only stops I made that weren't at a trail.
Erwin - Trail 7
One of the things that makes Judgement Day so much fun is the transition from running to sitting/driving and then back to running. By this point my quads were toast, the good thing is, the night before I set out my thigh compression sleeves so I'd have them if needed. Of course, they were still sitting in my office at home :-( With my quads screaming, and being pretty well cooked, Erwin was a battle. I forced my body to run every 1/2 mile, with 1/2 mile walk breaks. It wasn't pretty, but I got it done.
Frisco - Trail 8
The volunteers at Frisco had fun, I didn't. The good thing is, it was dark again, but I don't think it ever cooled off. I did see a copperhead here, covering the entire trail and not that interested in moving fast (or maybe he was at Corinth, hard to remember.) I do know that Frisco was were I had a moth taken out of my headlamp by an owl! For Judgement Day I had switched to an Orange Mud pack, since I knew I'd want more water that I normally carry, and having the front open would help as well. After 50 miles, I started to chafe with the pack, so I wasn't really running Frisco. I told myself that this was good, since it would let my legs recover (hopefully) a little bit before I hit Corinth. Every time I walked in the grass, letting riders pass, my shoes would let off dust clouds.
Corinth - Trail 9
I switched out to my Compressport running vest here, and promptly joined the line of folks who got lost. Corinth uses a combination of tree blazes (both paint and metal), 1x2" sticks in the ground with a small amount of paint, and rocks with arrows on them to mark the intersections. The two colors I saw were blue and green. Looking at what I ran, and comparing it to the trail map I see now where I picked up some of my bonus miles. The "good" thing is, I wasn't the only one. I got passed by three riders on my bonus section. At one point I came down a hill and spotted a sign pointing me up "Pac-man" hill. That would have been the second time I climbed it, so I stopped and looked at my GPS units (at least one rider did Pac-man 3 times). My watch showed me where I had run, and the fact that if I headed north I'd find the trail I used to get to that section. It also told me that I had 6.5 miles out of the official 7 for this trail. My Garmin showed me that the parking lot was a lot closer if I went south. I walked to the parking lot, and then headed out to cover a few 10ths of a mile to hit 7. Corinth could probably have used some Judgement Day signage, there were a lot of lost and annoyed riders. There were also riders that bailed after getting lost, and I know of one who clocked 10 miles
Horseshoe - Trail 10
The anger that I used to propel my legs through the second half of Corinth had worn off, the tank was empty, everything hurt and I didn't want to get out of the jeep. I made sure I knew where the trailhead was, and started a slow walk (I can't even call it a victory lap) around Horseshoe. As I was heading up to the trailhead, I spotted a skunk heading towards where all the riders were parked. My guess is he had smelled the air, and was in love.
Spent a lot of time stepping off trail to let riders pass, almost every one asked if I was ok. Near the end I heard a crash of a bike that stalled out on a log crossing. It was the tandem, they were ok and we walked the final section (it was technical) together. They asked what I was going to do with my topcap. I told them that I actually have 5 bikes, but I enjoy the challenge of running more. Also, I commented that crashes hurt less. They agreed with that, they saw a rider break his collarbone at Big Cedar earlier as well.
One issue I kept running into, I would get passed by riders, and my mind would tell me that I must be going slow, I'd look at my watch and it was telling another story. I think that was part of the reason I toasted my legs early.
Finished at 4:58 AM, so just about 23:15 total time. Run time was 18:01, a little slow for 70 miles, but I'll take it.
They ran out of topcaps :-( It seems that they weren't ready for 580 riders to sign up, and a high percentage finished (I can't wait to see that actual numbers).
When I got home and cleaned up, I discovered that I had a blister on my foot, from the straps on my Chacos that I wore for the drive home. Go figure.