Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sasquatch at Uwharrie?

No . . . that's not me!
Is there really such a thing as Sasquatch - aka  Bigfoot, Yeti?  So much talk . . . so few facts.  And no really solid sightings that you can say 'This proves that Sasquatch is out there!'  I always thought all the fuss was in the Pacific Northwest.  But the Uwharrie National Forest has recently become one of the key areas of focus in trying to either prove or disprove the existence of the illusive creature (assuming he / she exists at all!)  Even Animal Planet is on the bandwagon!  Check this out!

Before Saturday, I would have said the chances of Sasquatch being real are . . . well, quite low.  But now  . . . I'm not so sure.  Maybe . . . just maybe Sasquatch lives in Uwharrie.

To understand where I'm coming from you have to understand my day Saturday . . .  it's a long, boring story.  Sorry.  My suggestion is to skip this and go find another blog.

The Uwharrie Mountain Run

The event was the Uwharrie Mountain Run . . .  a super cool event with three separate races: an 8 miler, a 20 miler and a 40 miler.  Last year I had run the 20 miler (ended up being about 17.5 miles as they routed us around a difficult, muddy section since there had been days and days of huge rain).  So I thought it was time to step up to the 40 miler.  I mean . . . how hard can it be?

Friday night Ron Fleming, Scott Wingfield and I picked up our race packets at the pre-race pasta party.  And we got our race numbers.  Here is where it all started going wrong!  Here is my number . . .

Those of you that know me know that I am a master at numerology when it comes to race numbers . . . years and years of careful study and detailed data analysis.  Usually . . . just by looking at a number I can tell what kind of race your going to have. Almost infallible!  And those of you that have studied under 'The Master' know that a '57' is one of the WORST POSSIBLE two digit numbers you could EVER get!  The two slowest number possible and they are unbalanced . . . but I won't go into race numerology here!

With this race number, I should have never started this race!  I should have volunteered to help instead of actually trying to run!

But no.  I thought I . . . being the great, strong runner that I am . . . could overcome the numerology.  Such a fool!

Started out the day at dawn . . . probably 34 degrees and raining cats and dogs!  Perfect!  Everyone was shivering and trying to get out of the rain.  Sloppy, muddy, cold.  (Photos compliments of Shannon Johnstone).  Finally, 7 am and we were off!

 At about the third mile I took a fall.  Didn't seem to hurt anything.  I'm relieved 'cause I 'm pretty sure I had broken my wrist on a fall at the Medoc Rerun after Thanksgiving.  The wrist still hurts most of the time and I had feared falling.  About 1/4 mile later  . . . I fell again.  Minor wrist pain.  I was lucky!  But these two falls started working on my mind!

  • (Medical Update:  As it turns out, my left knee is quite sore today . . . so maybe I did do some damage . . . not cartilage but outside the joint just below the kneecap on the outside.  Doesn't feel serious.  Also, when I'm going uphill my right knee 'clicks' loudly . . . so loud, in fact, that people around me ask what that noise is!  No pain . . . just the clicking . . . feels weird though!)
Lots of mud, rocks, hills, water, swollen stream crossing through cold water.   (Even crossed a few that didn't have to be crossed . . .  yea . . .  screwed up!  See picture below! )  Did I mention there was a lot of mud, rocks, hills, water, and swollen stream crossings?  If you haven't run Uwharrie, you need to, just so you can understand!  Everyone needs to run a serious trail race.  Not the Umstead Marathon, New River Trail 50k or even Medoc (one of my favorites!!).  All those are great, but try a serious, hard core trail race.
Thought I would get a picture of the ONLY bridge on the course!
Notice that is Jim Micheels leading us all across the creek.  Unfortunately, the trail had taken a sharp left and we didn't need to cross here!  But we did have to cross BACK to return to the trail!

Scott Wingfield just havin' some fun!

Things continued pretty uneventful until about mile 10-11.  The rain ended and I took off my rain shell and stuffed it in my backpack.

After my two falls, I was trying to really be careful about my footing.  I was going downhill and really feeling good!  Making good time (for me!).  Then, I find myself laying on my back . . . on the trail.  Head super woozy and seeing stars!   WHAT THE HELL??  What happened?  Where am I?  Why am I lying on the trail?  What the F***!

So . . . what happened?  I'm not really sure!  I was running . . . and then I was waking up!  There was a tree across the trail just above me.  Had I just not seen it?  Had I run into the tree?  Or had something else happened?

I don't run all that fast, so I'm sort of wondering how that tree could have knocked me cold!  I mean, how fast could I have been going?  What else could have happened?

I want to state flat out that I NEVER actually saw Sasquatch.  There is no way I can honestly say that Sasquatch clubbed me as I passed that tree.  But is it reasonable to assume I just ran into a tree and 'cold cocked' myself totally out?  Could this have happened?

I don't know.  I didn't see anything and I don't remember anything.  You be the judge!

Guess I just sat there on the trail for 10-15 minutes . . . until my head cleared and I felt like I could stand and walk.  Eventually, the cob webs cleared and I continued on down the trail.

About ~1/2 mile later I realized my gore-tex rain jacket I had stuffed into the webbing of my pack was gone!  So I turned around and headed back . . . across a big stream crossing . . . back to where I fell.  Where I found my jacket!

Bonus miles!!  Got to love them!

By this time I was just mentally 'DONE.'  I made up my mind I was going to drop at 20.  From this point on, I just struggled on.  No motivation . . . no fire . . . just a walk / run fest!

Saw so many friends as they were heading back to the start on their way to a 40 finish.
Shannon Johnstone  . . . just flying!  And lookin' beautiful!  I didn't bother taking a picture of Anthony earlier . .

One of the nicest guys in ultra running . . . Rick Grey at about his 28th mile!

By about mile 18 my head had pretty much cleared . . . and I was just a little loopy.  But I really loved the last 6 miles of this course.  Last year, they detoured us around this section due to mud and high water, so I didn't know how nice this section really was.  It had the biggest climb of the day.  Tons of mud.  Twisty trails . . . and the deepest stream crossing of the day.  I thought this was the hardest part of the 20, but I did love it!

So I bailed at 20 miles.  I'm pretty sure they would have cut me off if I hadn't told them I was done . . . but I was done.  But still smiling!

But if I ever get '57' again as a race number . . . I'll pass on the race!  Bet on it!

I wonder what Sasquatch is doing today . . .


  1. He is wishing he had your goretex jacket! I say he clubbed you to a hold of it, got scared, and left the scene. Not many people can say they encountered Big Foot."57" might be bad for running, but what a great story! And you got really cool pictures. I imagine Animal Planet will be contacting you soon.

    That stream crossing picture is AMAZING. You should totally submit it to "Why We Run"!

  2. Super tough just to get in 20 miles in those conditions! The stream crossing I would not mind but the miles of mud bogging would get to me before long.
    I recall on my first ultra at Chattooga River 50K getting clubbed by a tree. I was running on the heels of a guy that stood maybe 5'3" on a good day. It was about mile 28 and I had my head down with tunnel vision on the trail surface at his heels. Next thing I know I am seeing stars and on my back. Felt like I was hit with a ball bat. I remember cussing the little runner in my mind because he ran right under the limb without ducking and never warned me. Major headache and possible slight concussion resulted but I finished but kept my head up the rest of the way realizing it was my fault and nobody else :)

    Great race report and pictures Frank!

  3. LOL! Laughing WITH you, not at you! :o)

    I can totally feel your pain! Great job with 20 miles, esp under such nasty conditions. Sounds like quite a challenge!

  4. Glad you are feeling well and super glad Sasquatch did not haul you away. He left you for another trail race on down the road. There were numerous trees that us tall folks had to duck under. I have to say that I was glad I was not running that course in the dark. It was just nasty this year. I am still finding dirt here and there. I have a prediction that next year is going to be pretty and you will get the 40 miler, so in other words look forward to 2012 and not # 57!

  5. Sasquatch even made the local news today:

  6. Amazing photos!
    I'll bet Bigfoot missed the race registration and he probably clubbed you to get your bib number, even if it was a bad one.
    Great report Frank! We'll see ya at Umstead.

  7. Hi Frank, I must have seen you on trail not too long after the incident. Glad to hear you're ok and that Sasquatch didn't succeed in taking your jacket. Next year you'll take your revenge on the 40. Thanks for the race report and see you at Umstead.

  8. Whoa. What an adventure! Those stream crossing look pretty hardcore, especially the superfluous ones. ;-)
    Thanks for this great report. You tell such a good story.

  9. Glad you weren't pulled under by the Uwharrie Water Monster during one of your stream crossings. Great race report and pictures.

  10. Great report! You are tough and I'm so glad we got to meet. -- I'm the girl who said Hi and then fell - the only time I fell out there but it was worth it :-)

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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.