The RFH had a big turn out (17+) for this year's Uwharrie Trail 40 Mile Run. Pain, pleasure and double points seems to hold a great appeal with our group. Alex Morton, Andrea Stewart, Andy Wright, Buddy Nash, Byron Backer, Doug Dawkins, Eliza Weston, Hal Hawisher, Jeff McGonnell, Jim Snyder, Joe Schlereth, John Teague, Keith Wood, Leon Harmon, Mark Long, Robert Crosby, and I were all back for more. When you add in the other familiar faces such as Bethany Hunter, David King, David Horton, Dennis Hamrick, Jim Sullivan, Mike Fiorito, and Rob Apple along with 4-5 guys from the Mangum Club, we were well represented among the field of 115 runners.

The transition of the Uwharrie Trail from Bob Boeder to "Sally and Friends" continues to impress me. As a subject matter expert on Managing Projects and Project Teams, I appreciate and understand the complexities of planning, organization, setup, and management. These  guys are pros. The course will always be hard, but the race has been humanized. Gone are the old "deer in the headlights" shirts. This year's shirts have a course profile signature that expresses the true nature of the course. [If you had a cross-cut saw that looked like that, you would leave it in the barn.] The logistics support from the pre-race dinner, to the aid stations, to the finish line was excellent. I really do warm up to the idea of beer @ the pre-race social. Jim Snyder and I enjoyed a good 5-6 beer strategy session on Friday.

The course was very sloppy after 2+ inches of rain on Friday. The creeks were at full bank which totally eliminated  the challenge of rock hopping across the streams. You tried to pick a shallow section and wade across. The temperature was mild 42 and the water was colder.

My day started out with a good hug (grope) from Andrea @ the start that charged my batteries. However, the charge quickly wore off on that first awful climb. The first half of the race does not count so I'll continue my story on the return leg.

On fast (dry) years, I normally meet the leaders returning @ 15 miles. This year I met the leader (?) coming down from the peak @ 16 miles with Byron in hot pursuit 100 feet back. They were in another zip code from the rest of the runners. From this point on, my spirit always picks up. While meeting and greeting the returning runners, I am plotting to see who I can pick-off on the return.

On the decent from the peak @ 16, I exchanged greetings with Horton who was in 4th, and it got really interesting on that steep hillside traverse going into the aid station @ 17.  In one short period, I met Joe who was in 7th, followed by Bethany who was in considerable pain, and Mike who was breezing. I caught Snyder @ 17 and we ran together to the turn around. We met, in succession, Leon, David King, Rick Brittain (my engineer), Andrea, Robert, Mark, and Jeff near 18. We met Teague @ 19, and I set him in my sights for the return.

At the turn around Hal, Jim and a bunch of others were just milling around and socializing. I did my usual slip in and out trick and left them in my rear view mirror. On the return, I met an exuberant Eliza @ 18 and got a big embrace from her that put a biological seizure on me. I am known for answering "The Call of the Wild", but running with a
biological seizure can be distracting. Alex and Dennis were close behind her, enjoying the view, and I had do my best to wipe the smile off my face when we passed. My strategy was beginning to work when I caught Teague leaving the aid station @ 17. We a great time running through streams and bogs trying to cut the other one off. Leaving the aid station @ 14, John said he was going to kick it on a long downhill, and that as the last I saw of him. I saw Robert @ the 12 mile aid station. His stomach had turned sour and he looked like he was close to a DNF.

The most unusual sight of the day was @ mile 13. I caught Andy who had stopped to help a elderly gentleman named E.B. Floyd from Walnut Cove. Mr. Floyd appeared to be in his mid to late 70s. He was wearing a 20 miler's number, and he seemed to be disoriented. He was talkative, and Andy was assessing his condition while getting him pointed toward the aid station @ 14 miles.
As I slipped past Andy, I thought to myself, "There sure are some tough people in Walnut Cove."

In the end, my 9th Uwharrie finish feels really good. I am already looking forward to quitting after # 10. Andy got his 12th finish, Jim got his 11th finish, and Dennis should have gotten his 10th finish on his second attempt. (He got lost last year and DNF'ed). Alex should have 8 or 9 finishes by now also, and the amazing (fearless) Eliza got her 1st.