Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nantahala Hilly Half Marathon

The Nantahala Hilly Half Marathon was on our list of "must do" runs this year.  The thing that impressed both of us is that the race director was so excited about being able to put the event on in such a beautiful area. He said numerous times, "don't just come out for the race or come for the route. Come for the area, the people and the history" With a 5 hour time limit to complete the distance, he truly meant come out, spend some time checking out the area, take your time and enjoy the scenic beauty.


The name of the race is long and quite a mouthful, so we decided to shorten it to "Nantahilly, or Hilly Half"  The course was very challenging, but the trails were not technically difficult.
Approx 4500 ft total elevation change...


7.5 miles trails and 4.5 miles gravel/dirt roads.
Trail races are approx distances. The sooner you learn and understand this, the better off you'll be. Some trail races we have run in are considerably longer than stated, some shorter. Mentally you have to plan on running until you cross the finish line and try not to dwell on it. 


In the above picture, look closely and you will see two participants down the hill working their way up. This was an option on the course if you so choose to take the challenge. The option was to run through a dark tunnel filled with cold shin deep water and with the help of a rope tied to a tree, climb out and up the hill to get back on course. We skipped the challenge part :-)


Nantahala River. The word Nantahala comes from the Cherokee language and means "Land of the Noonday Sun" The river runs through a narrow and steep gorge where in some areas the sun only reaches the ground when it is directly overhead during the middle of the day.


The first 2.5 miles were flat then you start to climb. First on a short segment of road  then single track trails...


Up, up and away we went...



Kind of felt like we were all by ourselves at this point. The hill spread all the runners out... Umm, yeah, we were toward the back...


I was afraid we would have to climb to the top of the zip line tower, but we didn't have to. We did hang around long enough to watch a couple of people zip lining! 


Views and more views. As I mentioned earlier about trail runs being approximate distances, they may not be marked the best either. Most runners, including ourselves, took a wrong turn and ended up on a dirt road scratching our heads wondering which way to go next when all of a sudden the race director was driving up to us to get us back on track. Seems we went a little bit out of our way. Eventually we made it to the top and at what was supposed to be the 5 mile mark took us 2 hours to get there...


There were a couple of runners that we saw ahead of us, later they were behind us, later ahead of us, and they finished the race about 10 minutes after we did. Somehow we manged to do this without ever running past each other...



 Photo op!...


Very happy...


Cool rock bridge...


So glad to be hanging out with my best friend...


Nice single track. No rocks or roots...


The course was marked with the pink ribbons. We were told to keep the pink on our left. Oops except in this spot. This is where many of us went in the wrong direction. We went to the right with the pink ribbons on our left side... 


Winding up the run back through beautiful lush forest...


Afterward we tried out the hammocks. We didn't want to put our dirty shoes in them. They were super comfy, so we bought one to have at home...


Had some lunch at the Rivers End Restaurant.  The above and below pictures are the view from our table at the restaurant. The race started on the other side of the river...


We had fun watching people rafting...


And now on nice days we have our very own hammock to relax in, listen to the birds chirping, admire the spring blooms on the trees with views of Mount Pisgah off in the distance.  Another run on our must do list this year is to run from Mt Pisgah to our home. It will be called the "Partial Pitchall", but that is another story for another day...

Happy Running!

E & B

Monday, April 7, 2014

Inspirational Runner: Bill Thompson

This guy is just flat out fun with a capital F!  Well, we may be bias because he is family, but non-the-less, he truly is an inspirational runner.  

He embodies the simplest basic aspect of running. His primary goal is to complete the distance and have a damn good time along the way! 


Not too many years ago, the fact that he would be running today was the furthest thought from our minds as he was hooked up to a respirator after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  After two unsuccessful rounds of Chemotherapy then a very successful bone marrow transplant, here he is with his have fun attitude and "I can do it because I'm alive" motto!!


One of his favorite annual runs is The Color Run. When we asked him why this is one of his favorites he said, "because it's fun" (duh) "and I get to blow colors out of my nose for the rest of the day!"


So what's up with the colors? Well first of all The Color Run is know for being the "Happiest 5k on the Planet".  The race focuses less on your time (un-timed) and more about having the time of your life. "Color Runners" are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. 


The 5k is a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness and individuality.


 Yeah, but what is the color made out of? The magical color powder is made out of food grade quality cornstarch. It is non-toxic, is 100% safe, and also biodegradable. 


Well, now it all makes sense why this fun guy and a fun race go hand in hand! How simple it is when we are struggling with running goals to set all of it aside and just go out for a run, just for the fun of it.

Thank you for inspiring us...

Eve & Bart