Croft is a nice park, although due to the race, which we were there for, the only available camping spaces were in the lower area of the park. This looked fine on paper. Heck, the lower area of the park overlooks a lake! But, after ramming our big ass down to this area, knuckles quickly turning white, we realized that the spot we had reserved was less than suitable for an oversized ass such as ours. Luckily there were a few open spaces that were more suitable – so we hopped in one of those.
Maybe Croft SP was trying to tell us that we should maybe just ‘hobble along’ to somewhere new. Skip this whole 24-hour race thing and indulge ourselves in something a bit healthier for our bodies. If the park was trying to tell us this – we didn’t listen.
At 9am the morning after we arrived I was huddled with some other 50ish idiots ready to run for 24-hours. 24-hours which were forecast to be raining. And not just raining – but down-pour, wrath of Poseidon raining.
And for the next twelve hours, I plodded along a 3 mile loop trail which deteriorated lap-by-lap into a muddy hellscape of standing water as Poseidon pissed his waters of fury on us.
Between contemplating how I never expected that hell would be so wet or cold or muddy and fighting with my legs to just keep my body upright please, I was greeted by Jake’s soggy, smiling face every three miles. God I don’t know how I lucked into a man who willingly stands in torrential rain in 50º temperatures to wait for my smelly, waterlogged, cranky ass to pop out of the woods so that I can give him yet another reason why I don’t feel like eating or drinking yet. He stood in the rain for 9 hours repeating this process – with the occasional ‘break’ to change my shoes for me because I couldn’t find the dexterity or finger strength to do it myself. And then, at 6pm, after 9 hours of standing in the rain, he joined me to hobble through some nasty, cold, wet laps through the woods in hopes that it would keep me going.
I made it just over 12 hours – and 50 miles before calling it a day. My knees just weren’t down with the slip-and-slide extravaganza that this race decided to gift upon us. And looking down at the trail in attempts to not fall on my face had caused my lower neck muscles (upper back?) to tighten to the verge of tears.
I typically find ultra marathons to be a mix of joy and sorrow and pain and highs and “holy shit I’m dying” mixed with “wow, this is the most amazing thing and I’m amazing and everything is the most amazing”. But not this ultra. This one was all “wow, hell is really really muddy and cold and wet and I hate it”.
After a hot shower and a few Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes (don’t worry about it – your body wants what your body wants) we slept while the pouring rain continued. I haven’t appreciated my plush bed and down comforter so much – maybe ever.
In the morning we headed out for breakfast at a French Cafe, and I waited to have some wave of regret for not trying to continue my slow slog through the mud of the trail. Well, that regret never did hit – I think my body just knew. It was a bit helpful that most everyone else in that slog of a race decided to call it a day even sooner than I did; although there were a few brave souls who slipped-n-slid through the night in intervals.
We spent a few days at Croft enjoying the sunshine that suddenly decided to make an appearance, and poking around the city of Spartanburg. Spoiler: there’s not too much popping off in Spartanburg, but it is a cute city.
And now we’re headed towards Myrtle Beach, SC – but I think we’re gonna stop-over somewhere near Columbia on the way.