Tuesday, June 7, 2011

North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon

This Saturday, I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon. I went into it as a training run, another nice long run with some speed work following the Harry Landers.

Four miles into the race, I came around a blind corner and tried to duck under a overhanging branch…unsuccessfully. I hit my head on it pretty hard running at near full clip through the hit. It shook me up a little bit, and I was worried about my history of skull fractures (3 of them forced me out of rugby in college).

No cerebrospinal fluid came out of my nose, thankfully, but about a minute later I put my hand up to the left side of my head and my hat was soaked in blood (and now my hand as well). I figured I had taken off a bit of scalp, which if I hadn't been wearing a hat would have definitely happened. I ran the next two miles with blood dripping down onto my neck (as head wounds do) to the aid station, where the medics took me aside and sat me down for some wound cleaning, eye checking, and a discussion about continuing the race. The EMTs rightfully detained me for 10 minutes or so, which seemed like an hour but I was glad for their attentiveness and assessment (“You can keep going if you’d like.”).

I got some water, the put some paper towels under my hat to soak up the blood, and kept running. The hit to head woke me up, and I threw caution to the wind and ran like heck for the rest of the race (which was ~28 miles) finishing 13th overall with 04:25:18.

The reactions to my blood stained hat, neck and ear were varied "Holy $#^! man, did you get shot!?" to "Are you okay?"

The race photos are copyrighted so I can’t reproduce them here, but you are welcome to check out my blood soaked hat at the finish: http://www.ultraracephotos.com/tnfec/

Overall, the course is flat and not very technical, ripe for a very fast 50K (props to Cville triathlete Skylar Lyon for 04:50:01 – 14th overall in the 50K). Charlottesville was well represented in both the marathon with 5 runners and 3 in the 50K. If I’ve missed you in the results, I’m sorry!

The North Face races are expensive but good value if you are into road-race style finish line carnivals with ice baths, unlimited chocolate milk, beer garden, massages, and a catered lunch. Felt very pampered, though nothing beats a soak in the North Moorman’s.

-Mike