Monday, April 2, 2018

Seven Sisters 25k


For not being much of a racer I found myself doing races two weekend's back-to-back in  March. The weekend after BlackRock was the Seven Sisters 25k put on by Tanawha Adventures and Brandon Thrower. I've run the course several times before and when I saw that it was becoming an official race I was excited to participate and support the inaugural event.
There had been a buckle dangling in front of me like a carrot at BlackRock and but there was no such temptation with Seven Sisters so I was treating it as a training run. During the week leading up to the event, the big question was the weather. March in the mountains can mean anything and the forecast was looking like a cold rain for the run - far from ideal conditions.
I woke to the sound of rain on Saturday morning and headed out to the start vowing to make the best of it regardless of the weather. Rain Is a good thing and nothing is wrong with smiling on a cloudy day. When I got to Montreat the cold rain gave way to a light snow and I was excited for what was to come. Now the question was on if they would stick to the full route or due to the weather alter the course.
Just before the start, Brandon announced that there was only a half an inch of snow at the top of Greybeard and with little more precipitation expected as of then we would be sticking to the full route. How about the crowd erupted with excitement. It was a large group of runners I was happy to see so many people coming out to run in questionable conditions.
The race started with the first notes from Brandon's banjo and we all took off in the falling snow. I say I'd run the course several times before but never really looked at the route too closely and we started up some streets that I'd never really run before. I didn't want to get stuck in traffic on the steep single-back climbs so I pushed a little bit to stay near the front quarter of the pack.
Although we weren't expecting much more precipitation the snow just kept falling and I was having a great time. There is something about snow that opens up a childlike wonder and unabashed joy that couples perfectly with the pureness of trail running. There was no place I would have rather been at that moment than running trails in the mountains in the snow. Springtime in Pisgah and nothing could be finer.
I played leap frog with several little groups of runners as we rolled up and down the various hills. and gaps until we got to the Greybeard Trail. As much as I love its namesake mountain it is probably my least favorite trail in Montreat as it is the epitome of a false flat.
Nothing was going to keep me down this day though and I just trudged on letting runners go by as I figured I would reel them in on the West Ridge Trail. The snow had still been steadily falling the half inch we were told was at the top was now several inches and we weren't to the top yet.
Just as I started to wonder if they would alter the course and send us back down Greybeard the answer came with the lead runner passing me on his way down. As much as not doing West Ridge seems like it would have been, it really wasn't. Things were slippery enough on Greybeard and hundreds of people didn't need to be going down West Ridge in those conditions. So, I fully supported the race directors decision and went on up to Walker's Knob where we would turn around.
They had a bottle of whiskey at the top and were a little surprised when I took a shot. I really wasn't racing and at that point, it was all over anyway so why not? The descent down Greybeard was indeed slippery and I wasn't taking any chances like I had done the week before at BlackRock. Brandon was hanging out at the turn from Trestle on to Greybeard and I was very surprised to see the race director on course. But like he said someone had to be there to make sure racers knew a new way down. I thought about volunteering to hang out with him but realized I would be getting cold very fast so I continued my descent.
The snow had stopped and was melting quickly and it looked like it was going to be a gorgeous afternoon in Western North Carolina. I slipped and slide my way down to the road and then trotted into the Finish or a warm bowl of chili, a cold Pisgah Greybeard and plenty of smiling faces were waiting to greet me.
Even though we did not go on West Ridge Trail which is the crux of the route it was still an excellent event and I would encourage everyone to run it next year. Many thanks to Tanawha Adventures for my best run of the year thus far! If it wasn't for them I would have never gotten out of bed early would have missed the joy of running in that snow.

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