Sunday, October 11, 2009

Laurel Run Ascent

What a cool run!

The Laurel Run Ascent is an 11-mile trail race in Kingsport, Tennessee. Essentially, the race starts on the Holston River at the foot of Bay's Mountain . . . a 3,500 acre city park and follows Laurel Run creek up the mountain! Cool temperatures and a light rain . . . PERFECT weather for a trail run!

As I registered for the event, I saw they had a beekeepers outfit available for rent! A few weeks earlier at the Bay's Mountain 15-mile Trail Run, virtually everyone got stung by a nest of yellow jackets that had built their nest on the trail! Everyone was still talking about it!! (Eric . . . no one had as many stings as you . . . you won the bee sting competition for that race!)

The first mile up the Laurel Run trail had several boggy spots with a few of them almost sucking my shoes off! But after these mud bogs (actually quite fun!) we had a stream crossing where all the mud was washed off. The complete trail was actually runable with no really super vertical sections . . . but it was a constant uphill grind. At about the 1 mile point we passed Laurel Run Falls, a beautiful waterfall just beside the trail. This day, there had not been a lot of rain, so the falls were not at their best . . . but still beautiful!

Also, the trail passes two old homesites that nature is slowly taking over. Too bad . . . by this time in the run, I would sure have liked to stop in and have a little 'shine with the owners!!

I started running the easier uphills and walking the steep sections but as I neared the top, I ended up walking all but the easiest uphills! As I was at 59 minutes into the run (had gotten to the mountain top and was following the ridgeline up to the firetower), the leader passed me . . . flying down the trail! This guy had at least a 8 minute lead on the #2 guy!

I love how supportive trail runners are of each other! Everyone is so encouraging! Every single person had something positive to say! And everyone had a smile on their face . . . enjoying the day! I bet half the folks told me they had not seen any of those yellow jackets!

I got to the turn-around point in next to last place, with two folks maybe 3 minutes ahead. Had a quick cup of water and was excited to start running DOWN this friggin' mountain! While the run down is a lot easier effort-wise, it's much harder to avoid tripping or turning an ankle . . . you really have to concentrate on every step.

Several weeks ago a bear ran out of the woods and knocked me down as I was negotiating an especially tight, twisty, steeply downhill section. (Okay, I really just twisted my ankle, but the bear story is much more entertaining!) As I passed the place where it happened, I made it a point of being extra careful! A "tricky" place for sure!

I really enjoyed the run down . . . felt like I was flying!!! Blew by one guy one guy like he was walking. Well, I guess he was actually walking . . . just a hiker going down the trail! I continued down at "race pace" and with about 1 mile to go I actually PASSED another guy. This guy was a competitor in the race! YES!!!!

I finished strong and felt GREAT! No bears, no bees and no falls! The award ceremony was just ending. Figures . . . guess I didn't win anything . . . AGAIN!

Mark Skelton and the State of Franklin Track Club do their races right! A really GREAT long sleeve cotton shirt, a nice, insulated water bottle, and great food at the end! All for $20! This is the way races should be! Thanks Mark!

Here are a few more pictures . . .


  1. Nice report! Sounds like a missed a great day out there.

  2. You wore red shoes and didn't win? Yeah, I think it only works for road 5Ks. It might actually hurt you in a trail race.
    great report. looked like a beautiful race. I like the bear story, you should keep that.

  3. Great photos too! I like the bear story.

  4. great race report! I hope to run more trail races with you in the future Frank!!! I loved your pictures! do you mind if I use 2 pictures from flicker to add to my blog! I will give you credit of course!!:o) I loved the bear story too!
    thanks!! take care!!



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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.