Sunday, June 13, 2010

Boogie . . . without her fangs!

The annual Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50-miler and Marathon is a tough race.  Very tough.  This one has the triple H threat . . . Hills, Heat and Humidity.  Weather forecasts predicted temperatures at the start of sunny and 94°-97° depending on which report you choose to believe.  We arrived about 4:30 pm with the temperatures around the 95° mark and the sun was relentless. Looked like a bad, bad, bad Boogie! . . . real bad!

 But about 10 minutes before the race started, a high cloud cover moved in and the temperature quickly dipped to around 91 or so!  But without the direct sun, things were much better.  Boogie pulled back her fangs a tad this year.  But it was still hot . . .  when I left at 1:30 am the bank sign in Ellerbe still read 80°!  And the humidity was high!  And Boogie hills are always there.  Perfect conditions for a long run!

Several friends . . . Ron Fleming, Amber Poole, Jon Shingleton, Brian Wilcox and James Stephenson all were introduced to the Boogie experience.  And all were successful!  Believe all would agree Boogie is a real character builder.   James and Cheryl came with their friends McCrea Wallace and his wife.  McCrea had done Boogie before and knew how to prepare.  They all look like the Clampetts don't they!!

On Friday before the Saturday night race my right (good) knee started giving me some real troubles. I wasn't sure I would be able to run at all.  But, given the weather forecast of temperatures around the mid-90s, sitting around helping out at the aid station and cheering friends didn't sound bad at all.  My plan was to start.  I figured that within 1/2 mile I would know if I had a chance to finish.

No knee pain at all all night!  Wasted all that perfectly good "worrying time" for nothing!  On downhills I could feel the knee alignment being "loose" so I just took my time, with finishing as my only running goal of the night.  I kept waiting for the knee to slip out of track but it never did.

My other goal was to just enjoy the race and have fun.  And I believe I won that part!  I had a blast!  So many great people there!  Runners, especially ultra runner types are just the nicest folks ever!  Everyone supports everyone else.  A great example is the winner of the 50 miler, Jonathan Savage (see picture on right)  Every time I saw Jonathan he had something positive or encouraging to say to everyone!  It was like he was just out for a little training run!

Also, my friend Laura MacLean won the 50 miler for the women.  Laura is another person who always takes time out to encourage everyone else (plus she is a picture freak too!).  She passed me (like I was standing still!) when I was at about mile 24 and even slowed up to chat some.  So last night two of ultra's very nicest folks came home winners!  I'm so very proud of both of you!

I hung out about 15 miles with Dave Solomon and Debra Botkin both running the 50.  Dave ultimately finished his 9th Boogie 50-miler and he and Debra hung together throughout.  This year, Dave just couldn't find time to get any quality training in (job promotion, Navy promotion plus all his mission work) but he didn't want his streak of eight Boogie 50 finishes to end.  So he came to do it . . . knowing full well the pain and suffering that was sure to come.  Dave finished.  Maybe this is the most inspiring story of this year's event.

Then, met up with Amber Poole and Jon Shingleton with 6 miles to go.  Amber was have rash / chafing issues but they figured out a short-term solution and the three of us headed out for the final loop.  I was feeling great at the start of the loop but things caught up with me at about mile 23.  But the three of us trudged on to the finish where we met up with Ron who had finished earlier.

By the time Jon, Amber and I finally finished, McCrea and James had already headed back to Raleigh, but I had gotten to congratulate them on their finish before I headed out to do my last 6 miles. Also, Brian Wilcox and his crew / team had skipped out back to Durham and I didn't get to congratulate him either.

Oh . . . and a Boogie first for me!  After two years of nothing, I saw two snakes on the road during the night.  One was a copperhead that was just "chillin" on the road (if anything could actually "chill" last night)!  The other snake we saw soon  after . . . he just quickly slithered off into the grass and I never got to see what kind he was.  Got to admit these made me give a second thought to one of my favorite Boogie pastimes . . . running completely in the dark with no light on.  I so love that!

I also finally got to meet Rick and Tammy Grey.  Now I know why everyone has such nice things to say about each of them.

You never beat Boogie . . . you simply survive!  Hopefully with some dignity remaining!  Boogie is a challenge like few others.  A real running accomplishment.

Here are a few pictures I took during the day/night.

Here are some more pictures taken by Ben Dillion I believe.

Fred Dummar's pictures


  1. yay frank!!! you did awesome!!!
    so happy your knee behaved itself!
    also so glad you met Rick and Tammy. They are such special people. love them so much!!!

    take care!

    hope to get to share the trail with you soon!


  2. Frank, It was great to finally meet you. I felt like I knew you from all of your comments on Jenny's blog. Now I am able to put a live face with the person on the other end. Hopefully you will be able to come up and join us sometime for a little bit of fun on the trails. You did great this weekend at the Boogie. Tammy and I had such a great time and we will be back for more fun next year working the same place. Rest up and see you soon, Rick

  3. Boy, those pics of us are very fitting of how I felt at the end of the night. I could barely muster an expression. LOL!!

  4. Turns out what I thought was a wide-spread heat rash is actually bleeding under the skin... from tiny bursted capillaries.

    So, Boogie tried to kill me, apparently!

  5. Amber, Any answers on what to do about the bleeding under the skin or how to help prevent it. Glad to hear you received a diagnosis.

  6. Interesting report. Good information re- the copperhead. During a run the other night on an edge-of-town paved greenway, I almost ran across a large copperhead laying on the narrow greenway watching some frogs. It was dusk, almost dark, I barely saw him, I edged to the side and ran on past. His head was up, he was eager to get one of those frogs.


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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.