Friday, September 30, 2011

The Awesomeness of Hinson Lake Ultra Classic 24 hour run

WTF would have put graffiti on the Mt. Hinson sign? LOL

Hinson Lake 24 hour Ultra Classic didn’t disappoint. But there again, it was never going to really. As a race -- as the name suggests, it is a classic. As a social gathering, it is a classic. As a great trail, it is a classic. As a challenge, it is a classic. You would really have to go out of your way to find something that you don't like. I honestly love everything about the race -- including the $24 entry fee.

Like last year I set goals -- the primary one, like every race, "Finish alive with a smile". I had a "WTF? LOL" goal of 100 miles. It should be doable, 20 minute loops (1.52) -- easy right? (LOL).
My "Unofficial” PR is 91.xx miles, on my way to 100 at Boulder, my official 24 hr PR is 87.5 miles on my way to 100 at Umstead 2010 (the difference between "official" and "unofficial" is that the 87.5 is recorded by a race official as an official split time). My PR in a 24 hour race is 81.64 miles at Hinson in 2009. Last year I managed 100k.

Last year was hot and humid -- this year had lower temperatures, but very high humidity.
It became apparent fairly early that the 100 wasn't going to happen, so In the end, I settled for just having fun and watching some awesomeness unfold with a view to doing at least one more lap than last year followed by a bacon-fest at Shoney's all you can eat breakfast buffet. (I did think of the "24 challenge" -- 24 beers, 24 loops, for $24 on 24th of September, you see, it is no coincidence that there are 24 beers in a case, and 24 hours in a day).

Let's talk about awesomeness. I am privileged to have witnessed one of the greatest ultra  performances of all time.  I am no expert on records and such, but after some googling, here is what I believe I witnessed -- the greatest off-track distance ever run by an American on US soil in 24 hours. Mike Morton ran an incredible 163.9 miles. It was incredible. A couple of degrees cooler, or some reduced humidity, and I believe I could have seen the American record get passed.

Hinson Lake to me is like a family reunion – the way the course is set out and the people who come, you can get to see friends several times a day and make new ones as you circle the lake.

So this year, by 2am, I was fried, and very tired – I had plodded my way to about 56 miles. I decided to blow up my air mattress and lay down in the screened porch for an hour. That turned into three hours. Even though I didn’t sleep properly, I was enjoying the rest, and being as there was no PR on the cards, I wasn’t that bothered. 5am though, I did decide to get moving. I walked a couple of laps, with Amy (who now holds the Hinson Lake record for “laps in a leg brace”) and some laps with Laura (who now holds the Hinson Lake record for “laps in in furry bedroom slippers”.)

After the rest and some light walking/jogging for a while, my legs really felt good, and with an hour to go, I really picked up the pace – even throwing down a couple of 15 minute loops, my fastest of the day. I really enjoyed the last couple of loops because I had so much energy left, and I was going as fast as I could. (Mike Morton still continues to lap me though).

As the last couple of minutes approached Laura caught up to me and we decided we would finish together – there was still time though for Mike to lap us one more time with 30 seconds to go. At exactly 24 hours, Laura and I dropped our bananas and walked the ¼ mile back to the start/finish area, congratulating Mike on the way back.

68 miles or so was my total – I liked finishing strong; that felt good. Now, all I need to do is start strong and run strong during the middle bit, and I may get that elusive 100 miles………. So, lessons for next year, anyone who reads this feel free to remind me of these:

Camping – I love camping before Hinson. BUT, if I am to significantly improve my run, then I will need a good night sleep the night before. I didn’t sleep well this year, so I am going to have to bite the bullet and get a room. Maybe hang out with the crazies for dinner or something, but I will need a good night sleep.

I basically spent from 5pm on Friday to 8am on Sunday wet. Damp from humidity, damp from sweat. It got old. I also chafed in this race more than I ever have; need to lube up better.

I need to start a little harder, it’s all well and good having energy to burn at 7am, I need to get a few more miles in the bank early.

I think I was smart to significantly slow down in the middle of the day – sure it controlled my body temperature, but it doesn’t get the miles.

Plan a nap – you know, I really felt refreshed after my lay down. I just need to restrict it to 30 minutes or so, and perhaps with a good night sleep on the Friday, I won’t feel so extremely weary at 2am.

So, there you have it, Hinson Lake is in the books, and as soon as registration opens up, I will be signing up for next year’s race. It is the Best. Race. Ever.

I love this picture that Laura took, just a few seconds before the 24 hours were up

And here is the one I took of Laura

Bananas dropped. The race is over.


  1. great job jimbo! was so nice hanging with you. i needed to lube up better to. my only "injury" or soreness as a result of this race is some massive chaffing on my back from my bra strap. worst ever - bloody and raw and still a mess! woohoo first brit!!

  2. Love the 24 themed worm-hole. Didn't get a good night sleep as the folks in the adjacent tent chatted all night long. Great report Jim!

  3. I also ran Hinson this year, it was my first time, and I cant wait to bring the family next year!
    Read about it here:

    I will place a link to your blog on my report as well.