Sunday, July 22, 2007

Death Defying Night Run @ 12 Summits




I got suckered into running the 1st half of the "Epic Run" of Eric and Rob's 24 Summits. Actually I jumped at the chance of running 12 Summits at night. I figured it would be a another great chance to train myself to run at night and run tired. Well at the 9:15 pm start it was the end of a long day at the end of a long week at work. Tired...Check!

When we took to the trail Eric and Rob were filled to the top with what I'd call nervous energy. It was light out when we left but as soon as we got into the thick forest we had to use our lights. Even though it wasn't completely dark the trail was already tough. I had a couple of new LED handheld lights I was trying out and I had packed a headlamp as a back up. That was a good thing because I needed it. Those new lights are really bright but they didn't last all night.

If you want to get in some tricky night hiking then this is a great place to do it. But there are just too many hidden dangers to run 12 summits at night. There are lots of hidden logs, hidden rocks, hidden holes, and other hidden dangers. At night there are many places where the trail makes a sharp turn but you can't tell. Or the trail fans out due to the lack of underbrush you could easily get lost. There were a half a dozen times where it took me a step or three to realize that I was no longer on the trail. If you did get off trail there's no sun to give you any kind of indication of direction. And speaking of no sun, I turned my light off a couple of times and.... Wow was it ever dark. I'd hate to be without a light.

I hit the top of my foot about a dozen times, mostly from branches that stick out into the trail from the side. I took a very fast fall on the way up South Tiger. I missed a log that was hiding under 3 or so fern leaves and before I knew I was falling my nose was just touching the ground. My hands were under me but I did not consciously catch myself. That could have been ugly. I also banged up my ankles pretty good but not that much more that normal.

It was raining off and on all night but with the warm temps I didn't get cold. I even went with just a short sleeved shirt after the 3rd climb. Toward the end I started to get cold walking up the hills. So I ran up the road after Middle which warmed me up. I did the same up to Tiger #3. I did slow down or stop once I could no longer see Rob or Eric's light. I may have had Shela with me, but there's safety in numbers.

This was my Slowest but Hardest 12 Summits run. My time was 9:20.

Shawn took over my navigation duties as Rob and Eric headed out for round 2. Also there to help them finish was Robin a friend of Rob's.

Night running training....Check and then some.

Rob after 1 summit. 23 to go
Eric after 4 summits
A Friendly Face
Rob signs the book @ South Tiger
Eric followed by Rob coming up East Tiger


Steve said...

Nice job as runner and guide on the first night Tiger 12 I have heard about. The 12 summits are certainly enough challenge during the day. It should be a great confidence builder for you in preparing for CCC. I have run roads at night but I am nervous about pacing Eric at night without knowing the trails. I guess I better get up there and check out the course before the run.

GotLegs! said...

Arthur, I hit the top of my shoes that many times during the day ... you're just not doing it right ;-)

I've run on Tiger at night 3 times. Not the whole 12 summits in the dark. However, all of the runs were 50 milers and run in March - so it was dark early. Once there was so much snow we had to stop near T2 for about a half an hour consulting a map. We never did find the trail and ended up bushwacking our way to T3.

But, each time there were at least 6 of us so I was never worried about being alone.

The last time we did that run, Carol O'Hear was running with us. It was the first time I met her. Anyway, she was running so fast that she, Glenn and I finished in about 12 hours, so we were only in the dark for a couple of hours. When we did it in snow, it took like 15 hours. As much as I hate snow, that one was actually the most fun of the 3.

One of the times I remember a few people's lights went dead. We ran every other person with a light which worked out well. It's actually not hard following someone who has a light as your eyes adjust (oops, I think I outted myself)! It came in handy when I paced someone at WS and the same thing happened to me ;-( doh! I'm a slow learner.


robtherunner said...

Thanks again, Arthur! Your navigational skills were much needed and I appreciated you staying with me on the climb back up to middle tiger. I was wiped out and would have fallen way behind both of you at that point. It was quite the adventure.

King Arthur said...

I was telling Rob and Eric that running it in the dark in the snow might be fun. It would be a lot brighter that's for sure. And there wouldn't be all the hidden hazards from all the over growth.

GotLegs! said...

Yeah, it is brighter but tough to navigate (no trail to follow). But running downhill on east is the best in snow. You can let'er rip and not worry about falling ... in fact, you may just want to fall for the fun of it.

BTW: I was reading your WR training run report (I'm getting behind on reading posts). Anyway, the first "half" is 27 miles, second half is 23 miles I believe.

Ultra math is just different don't ya know!


shawn said...

I agree, slowest but hardest 12 summits...but the most memorable, definitely a "training" run like no other. Glad Shela is okay. As Murphy's Law goes, I carried two headlamps myself just in case we got lost or it got dark again...but we never needed them!

Journey to a Centum said...

I really liked my setup with a waist light and a headlamp. It seemed like it gave me just a bit better visibility than you and Rob had. I was also wearing my "LSD" lenses that are tinted yellow. I think that the lens color makes things sharper and more distinct at night. I stubbed my toe once and hit that stupid stump coming off of Tiger 2 both times! I mean I really wacked my knee hard on that damn stump. In fact I swore to myself and outloud that I was going to hike up there and cut that stump down. I've hit my knee on it four times now and I've got the scars to prove it! I think this is the same stump that you nearly broke your leg on during the Tiger Mt. Fat Ass. I'll cut it up into little coasters for my ice cold beer bottles to sit on when I recreate. Yeah that's it.. coasters!

Thanks for joining us! Shela sure gave us all a scare with her collar act in the bushes. In hind sight we probably all should have gone back looking for her. Glad she was OK. I think I would have been able to navigate all the way to that trail that confused me when we were going down South Tiger to the drop bags. I don't think I've ever noticed that trail before. From my map it appears to be what they call the Horse By-Pass. It would have looped us back up to where Shela got caught up in the bushes.

Have a great WR50! You are ready to rock and roll!

King Arthur said...

I couldn't tell which worried me more. That something had happened to her or that something might happen to me while trying to help her.

It's shorter. No wonder I had a neg. split last year.

I'm really glad you got done before dark!

You'll do fine at CCC. By then Eric we be moving a lot slower.

I was just full from all the spiderwebs so I figured I'd let Eric have some.