(I did not run with my phone, all photo credit goes to the respected owners of the Instagrams)
Ron and Helene Horne are a sick and twisted family. Who else would take so much pleasure in watching hundreds of people crawl up a mountain. And by crawl I mean hands and knees digging into dirt, grasping onto trees and branches, anything to stay vertical. The Horne family are the worst, however I keep signing up for races that they put on so, I think they might be my favorite family too.
The Chilly Cheeks 11k is not for the faint of heart, or anyone that has a heart problem, or probably anyone who takes alternative routes to avoid hills. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I saw the times from the year before and thought they were incredibly slow for almost 7 miles, so I decided to give it a shot. I ran the labor pains 12 hour ultra here and the hills were bad, but not unbearable, I mean I ran them for 9 hours so how bad could they have been.
After Zach and I arrived and checked in we watched one of the Philly busses unload and get ready by shot gunning a beer. I think the naïve part in my was still wondering how bad it could be
We walked down a hill to the start, and from there all 400 of us crowded into this one little section. It smelled of B.O. and stale beer, and after everyone around me high fived and told each other to stay vertical, that’s when it hit me that this could suck.
It was all downhill until 0.3 miles in, and then we turned right. Why did we turn right there? There was no trail, there was no defined path, there was a vertical wall of earth that we had to climb up. When we reached the top I looked at my watch, never have I wanted to quit a race half a mile in. This sucked, it was horrible I couldn’t breath, I was dirty, and everything hurt a half mile in.
They next mile wasn’t so bad there was baby hills, but noting major, up and down then mile three came “Mt. Motherinlaw” IT WENT ON FOREVER. Up, up and up, as soon as you thought the hill was over we turned a corner and went up again! I walked, I jogged, at one point I fell and crawled and finally got to the top, just to see that we only went a quarter of a mile. But hope was ahead, I heard the beer cry “B- double E-R R-U-N, beer run!”. I never ran to a refreshment table faster.
After double fisting a water and a Yuengling I wasted no time getting back to business. We were at a section that was relatively flat, small rolling hills kept me going like it was a training run. At this point I gave up on time, placing, everything, I just wanted to finish and feel my back and legs again. All was calm until mile 5, Mt. Whatdafacq.
This wasn’t a hill, this was a rock wall. I understood while people at the back of the pack had walking sticks now. There was no way I was getting up this thing without holding on to trees to help me up. I climbed, I crawled, I fought my way up this monstrosity of rocks, branches and trees. I tangled with brush and got shanked by thorns. This wall was getting the best of me, but finally a light at the end of the tunnel we could see the top… and there was a literal wall that we had to climb over to reach the road.
I think I let out a whimper, I had no idea how my body was going to get over this wall. I left it all on the climb up. After standing there for a second or two I was literally lifted on top of it. Thank you kind sir, whoever you are wherever you are. I guess he saw I gave up in my mind.
After the wall there was a downhill patch of road. I savored every second of it. Road, I don’t know why I ever left you. You are the best, seriously, I miss you. I’m so sorry I cheated on you, I’ll only do it a few time of year I promise.
After the wall, the worst part was over, we were back on the last half mile of the ultra trail. This was familiar to me, almost felt like home. I sprinted the last part, or well you know, what felt like sprinted because my legs were shot from the hills. I didn’t even mind the last mountain because I did it before, 8 times. But when I approached this finish line it was clear I had another girl on my heels and I was not letting her beat me, we had an all out sprint to the finish, which ultimately ended with me pulling it out in the end (thank you back yard 200’s).
I finished with a time of one hour twenty two minutes, it was my slowest seven miles to date. However it was my hardest earned seven miles to date as well.
I really thought Zach was going to murder me. He was used to the flat development and treadmill of New Jersey, we don’t have mountains where we run. I was expecting him to be mad, and yell and never want to run again. But the first thing he said after I met up with him was, “I can’t wait to do that next year.”
Me too. The Horne family and there sick twisted trails that go over mountains and through trees suck, but they give us an experience that we keep coming back for.