This was the third year in a row that I ran Yamacraw, and I continue to be impressed with race management. We brought back the same crew as last year, and rented a pair of cabins nearby to host the weekend's festivities. It was a wonderful time as usual, and if I'm able to register in time, I'll lace up for the 50K in 2020.
After many weeks of heavy rains and flooding, race management opted to use the alternate courses for the 50K and 20K races. The regular course was a mess with loads of debris and silt, leaving portions of the regular course unrecognizable. It was a good decision, and it's admirable that management had a contingency plan in place.
With flooding and resultant trail damage watched closely by race officials, the new course was communicated to runners early in the week. For the 20K, it was a little longer, but included the Blue Heron Loop that I've been wanting to checkout anyway, so it all worked out in the end.
With a sellout crowd, the first section was a walkathon. I decided to run the opening half with Red Belly because we share a similar pace and neither of us cared to push for time. Once we got sorted out in the pack (mile 2, maybe?), we tucked in behind another pair of runners that were rocking a strong, steady pace through the opening climb. We followed these ladies to the 10K aid station before losing them.
The Blue Heron Loop was far better than I expected and is worth revisiting for a day hike. The views were better than Catawba Overlook across the river, and the cracks in the rock section was really freaking cool.
With half the figure 8 course complete, we started on the second half by crossing the tipple bridge and moving onto a nice, steady 500' climb before reaching some gravel road. While this road stretch should have been easy running, Red Belly and I were both showing some signs of fatigue.
Not long after, we lost touch, as I cobbled together a couple more good miles before feeling my hamstring stiffen up. This was a fun run for me with Big Turtle coming up just three weeks later. I nursed my hammy to the finish with plenty of walking and stretching along the way.
Big kudos to race management for the clear communication and contingency planning that was very well executed. This was as smooth as it gets when you have a race week course change.
That said, I do feel for the first timers on the 50K, as the regular course has a pair of badass experiences that make Yamacraw so unique. Hopefully the trails can get cleaned up and Mother Nature will be more cooperative next year.