2013 Sultan 50K

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A few of us hanging out at the finish of the race.

The Sultan 50K is an informal invitation only race in South Mountains State Park, North Carolina. You have to know the Sultan or have someone who has run the race vouch for you to enter. The race a 33 mile out and back course, with a small 'lollypop' at the turn around point. The only access to aid is at the half way point, and there's 6,600 ft. of ascent, so it's more challenging that you might expect. The Sultan 50K is unusual in that your actual finish time is modified; you can get bonus minutes removed from your time for doing things like hand stands, cartwheels, Yoga poses, eating cake, etc. You can also get boner minutes added for things like not wearing your crown the whole time, not paying attention, etc. I was volunteered to mark the course, the first time I've done that in a race and it made things a little more interesting. This year a winter storm hit North Carolina, delaying the start by an hour and creating some minor traction problems in the early part of the race. Other than that, the race was a wonderful opportunity for some solitude in the Appalachian and some good Downhill Training.

1 What Worked

  • This is the first trail race I've done in the Hoka One One Shoes and with my skin condition I don't believe I would have been able to do the race without them. The Hokas protected my feet from the stones, and allowed me to move fast over surfaces that otherwise I'd have had to pick my way across. While the Hokas are wide and stable, if you do catch things wrong and turn your ankle, the height of the Hokas amplifies the twisting force.
  • I was glad I took the time to convert a previous run into a course map for my Garmin 310XT GPS watch. Having a display that showed I was on the right path was an added comfort, especially as I was the one marking the course! It was also particularly nice to have a display that showed me the distance to the finish. (The easiest way of turning a run into a course is to use the Garmin Connect web site. You just look at the details of a run, click on 'Save as course', go to the course and 'send to device'.)
  • I tried out two different calf compression sleeves for an upcoming review. It was slightly odd wearing a different sleeve on each leg, but I wanted to compare my two favorites over a longer run.

2 What Didn't Work

  • I think I marked the course reasonably well for the way out and the lollypop, but because the return journey just requires you to keep going straight without taking any turns (just like the way out), I didn't add extra markers. This meant that a group of three runners took the wrong turning and went a mile or so out of their way before realizing the mistake. They then carried on, trying to loop back to the main trail, making things worse. With hindsight I should have taped the way back as well.
  • I took a bottle on the run, but that was not quite enough for the return journey and I got a little dehydrated towards the end.
  • I left my post run clothes outside the car so I had access to them after the run, which was just as well as the car key was with one of the lost runners. However, I was not equipped quite well enough for several hours of inactivity in the cold.