The sun is out. I know it, but don’t see it–I am surrounded by the Appalachian mountains. There are people everywhere. Casual conversations and occasional chuckles are all around me. It is time to get on a bus. A school bus, that is. Instead of a school backpack on my back I carry a hydration pack. It is filled with nutrition and a few other essentials like blister tape and more nutrition. I am ready for this race.
After a short ride, we unload at the Lick Creek trail head in Daniel Boone National Forest. A good size crowd is gather around the starting line. Just as good of a crowd is gathered around the portapotties. I’m with the second group–one more time before the start. To shake off the morning cold, some stretch and do a little jog, others shuffle their feet back and forth while rubbing their hands together. The cold doesn’t bother me, but I am ready to get moving. Brief welcome and introduction from the race director and off we go. So much excitement! So much energy!
The course is absolutely amazing! Mostly single track very well marked trails take you through incredibly beautiful landmarks and multiple creek crossings. You first get your feet wet just a couple of miles into the run by crossing Lick Creek. Get used to it, you will be crossing it a few more times. My favorite crossing was about a knee-deep at Rock Creek. I actually stopped for a moment in the middle of it. At that point in the race the cold creek water felt enjoyable. I heard one year the water in this creek was so high runners had to be hauled across it in rescue rafts.
Cold creeks, beautiful rock overhangs, stunning waterfalls, very vibrant and diverse vegetation will sure please you eye, mind and soul. The course will be tough on your body though. No worries! Very friendly race director Brian and all amazing volunteers along with trail runners’ camaraderie make it an unforgettable experience. It makes want to come back.
For the grand finale’, this point-to-point race (if you run 50k or 20k) ends at Blue Heron Coal Mining Community in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Runners are treated to a dramatic finish as they have to cross a 100 foot high and almost 700 feet long pedestrian bridge that spans over Big South Fork where they are greeted by the race director, fellow runners, family, friends and other spectators. The bridge that was built in the 1930’s and was used to carry coal carts is a very nice addition to a very memorable trail race.
Keep an eye out for the next year’s race at Yamacraw and be sure to sigh up early as it sells out quickly. See you on the trails!
(Most of my trail running gear is purchased on Sierra Trading Post at discounted price. Save your money for race registration.)