Sunday, July 24, 2011

THE Barkley Marathons April 2, 2011

After another flurry of emails and DNF'ing at the Barkley Book Set Out, I really wanted to see the actual race.  Having read frozen Ed's book.  I wanted to smell the raw chickens cooking (or not) and hear the sound of taps.  So I managed to get my schedule worked out and was able to get on the road to hopefully get me to Frozen Head State Park Friday night around eleven.  I had the bus packed and was going to use it as my tent for the weekend.  I was slowed down a little bit going through rush hour traffic in Louisville, but otherwise seemed to be sailing along just fine.  That was until I got about an hour or so away from the park.  That is when the rain came.  I stopped to fill up the bus and lost some time waiting in line for the pump.  When I got back on the road it seemed to have slowed down some, or so I thought.  Then the hail came.  It came so fast it quickly covered the road.  You could not see the shoulder and everyone slowed way down.  I lost about 45 minutes in all through that storm.  Eventually, it cleared and I was once again on my way.  I finally was at the road that leads to the park entrance.  I had just passed the prison when a police car came up behind me with his lights flashing.  I quickly pulled over trying to remember what the speed limit was and if I was speeding.  Yeah!  He went on past me.  Then I became a little worried because I knew that the road ended at the park or so I had thought.  I eventually came upon the park entrance and flashing lights.  There was an ambulance and cop cars.  I pulled to a stop behind a pick up truck that was also waiting to get in.  I hoped it wasn't a runner.  I was hinted to that I needed to be at the park before midnight or risk missing the start.  It was only about 15 minutes before midnight.  One of the park employees came back and apologized and said they were waiting to tow a car.  That they would have us through in no time.  I thanked him and decided to go ahead and dig out my light.  The driver of the truck also got out and it was one of the runners, Byron Backer.  He said Laz had always teased that there would be a midnight start and he thought he'd check his packs one more time.  In what felt like forever, the rangers finally let us through.  I followed Byron but turned off into a parking area where the ranger said I could park.  I got out of the bus and as I was walking up the hill, I heard it.  Very faint but I had heard the conch shell blow.  OMGosh...the runners have an hour to get ready to start.  I started walking but was unsure how far up the campgrounds actually was and got kind of creeped out.  So I turned back to the bus and drove up to the campgrounds trying to find a place maybe to park.  No such luck.  So I pulled back down into the parking area and walked back up to the campgrounds.  At least I knew I didn't have far to walk this time.  More runners were beginning to stir.  I headed up to where the start is and where Laz was camped out.  They were all giddy with the early morning start.  Apparently, this was the earliest start ever.  The conch blew at 12:07 and I believe they had to blow it again because no one really stirred.  Naresh was there.  He also wanted to witness what we have
 have read and heard all about on the list.  Soon the hour was over and all of the runners had gathered at the yellow gate for Laz to light his cigarette and for the race to begin.  I was glad I wasn't one of them.  I completely missed the lighting of the cigarette and didn't realize it had started until the runners started passing by me.  We stayed up talking and that was when I found out about the snafu at the gate.  Apparently, when Naresh came through about an hour before me, a guy on meth came running naked out of the woods.  He ran and jumped across Naresh's car and then ran up to the visitor's center.  Man was I glad that I got held up by the storm.  If he'd come at the me, I would've turned the bus around and headed straight home.  : )  When I told Laz I was held up because of a hail storm, he was positively giddy.
  Eventually, we all drifted to our vehicles and one of the runner's girlfriend offered to let me pull the bus into the campsite they had.  I was thrilled I wouldn't have to be down there in that parking lot all by myself
  especially after hearing about the naked man.  I pulled the bus in and wondered how my "tent" would hold up and if I would get cold.  Then I wondered if I'd suffocate with lack of oxygen.  A quick call to my husband and I settled down to sleep.  Only to be woken up around 4 am to hail.  Yep, the storm had made its way to Frozen Head.  Those poor runners. No wonder Laz was giddy when he heard about the storm.  It sounded like shotgun blasts inside the bus, but I was glad I was in there and not in a real tent.  I called my husband and told him about it.  It was shaping up to be a good adventure.  Then I had to pee.  Shoot...I did not want to climb out of my cozy blankets but I had to go really bad and I couldn't find a cup.  I had to get out.  The rain had stopped luckily and I was back in the bus in no time and sleeping again. 

  I awoke the next morning and headed back to Laz's campsite with some rolls I had brought for breakfast.  There I met Blake Wood's father and Leonard Martin.  I had fun listening to both of these gentlemen while sitting around the campfire.  Lunch time came and the cooking of the chickens.  I watched Karl prepare the raw chickens and also taste tested them.  I was glad it was Karl cooking and not Laz.  ; )  Apparently I missed the first playing of taps overnight when the first runner dropped.  I didn't have to wait too long for the second playing to be done.  I would hear that song throughout the rest of the day.  I had told one of the runner's that I would crew for him, but since I had arrived so late last night I did not know where his campsite was.  Not too mention I had never crewed for anyone before.  I was trying to decide whether to do some hiking up to the overlook or wait for my runner.  I decided to wait because I would've felt bad if I wasn't there when he came in.  I met Psyche, who was also there crewing for a friend.  Her friend had not come in either.  The cut off for loop one came and went.  Now I was a little worried for Steve and Psyche's runner, Charles.    I'm sure they were having one heck of an adventure.  Finally, about 17 hours after starting,
Steve came in with a punctured elbow that he had gotten fairly early on.  I used the first aid kit out of the bus to try to dress his wound but he really needed to have a doctor look at it.  We spent several minutes looking for a hospital or emergency care center for him to go too.  When he had left, I called my husband and decided I too was going home early.  I said my goodbyes and headed out of the campground.  I could hear the sound of taps being played as I left.  I pretended it was for me, but I knew another runner had just been tapped out.  Another race finished.  Another adventure done.

A runner being tapped out.

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