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  • Hellbender 100
  • Sumner Smith
  • runningweekly excursions

Hellbender 100

Right before Spring Break I decided to volunteer at an aid station for a local ultra race - the Hellbender 100 Trail Race.  Yes, these people actually run 100 miles.  Mainly on trails.  And to the top of Mt. Mitchell - tallest peak east of the Mississippi.  I figured if they're going to do something so... inspiring?  crazy? interesting?  Then I'd love to witness it, and help a little if possible.

I also recently joined a local women's trail running group - Trail Sisters, which has chapters all over the country - and they were sponsoring the aid station at the top of Mt. Mitchell, so the whole thing seemed serendipitous.  Help the runners, meet people in the trail running group, get inspired, hang out on top of Mt. Mitchell all day,  Score.

In my slightly romanticized version, we looked out of our picnic shelter at the amazing vista off of the mountain.  In the actual version we were socked in by the thickest fog I've ever seen in my life.  This mainly seemed like a shame that the runners couldn't actually see off the mountain they had just climbed - but in practice it was kind of other worldly to know you're top of a giant mountain and not be able to see anything.

It did eventually burn off, and we had a kick ass aid station if I say so myself (including bacon, which I cooked on a camp stove for a fair bit of the day), and it was overall a pretty great time. 

The only thing I'll change next time - I want to stay all day.  I worked the first of two shifts, meaning I got to see the race leaders and others having a good day.  Next time I want to see everyone - the leaders, the people having a solid day, the back-of-the-packers who are loving every minute, and the people trying to beat the cutoff who aren't having the day they planned for.  I think I cheated myself a little by not experiencing the full range of emotions, so that's the plan for the next time.  And if I'm not ready to run 100 miles, it definitely inspired me to make sure I'm back out in the woods.

  • Sumner Smith
  • runningweekly excursions