I love this race. If I can slog through 13.1 miles, I will always
run slog through this race.
I’m really not into running at the moment. Can’t say why, just not. It was my jam for years. But lifting weights, teaching P90X, running challenge groups are all bringing me better results and more joy at the moment. Honestly, I feel a little guilty about it. But I know I shouldn’t. Life is about seasons. I’m sure there will be another running season soon.
But this race was enough to convince me to train. Well, to train enough to finish at least. I was not sufficiently trained to run it like I usually do. It hurt. Half marathons used to be fairly easy. This one was NOT. But this is a beautiful race in one of my fave places ever.
Lookout Mountain at the corner of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The Little River cuts through the canyons of Alabama’s Appalachians. The cliffs and rock formations are amazing. I went to camp and worked up here at Camp Skyline Ranch for much of my adolescent and early adult summers. This place made me who I am. I don’t say that lightly. Dead truth.
Interesting fact: this is Alabama’s own earthquake fault line. No joke. There have been earthquakes, and recent ones at that, coming from the Canyon.
The race starts at the Little River Canyon Center, which is run by Jacksonville State University. The proceeds from the race go to support the Center and all the activities they have. It’s a cheap race in comparison with a lot of others, only $50. So I’m great with forking my cash over for a good cause and great views.
It winds around the rim of the Canyon for a good 7 miles. This is where most of my detours occur. I leap off the road and race over to the edge of the cliff to get a decent view of the overlooks. I do this several times, racing to try to catch up after each, which I never really do. It’s okay. That’s not the point.
Then you get into the farmland on top of the mountain. Randy Owen, member of the band Alabama, has a large piece of this, along with several family members. He opens his farm to the runners, sets out a water stop with cookies and gels, and even rents the one and only porta-potty for the race. It’s a super nice, clean one, with tons of toilet paper. These things matter for runners. Trust me.
We do a large loop through his family farmland, then cut back through some other homesteads on the mountain to end up back at the Canyon Center.
Yes, there are lots of hills. It’s not a PR kind of course. Again, not the point.
THIS is the point.