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John Wiygul’s report from the Lookout Mountain 50-miler

The Lookout 50 Mile Trail Race this year fell on a cool, sunny day. The creeks were high due to rainfall from the last few days leading up to the race. The rumor was that we were going to have to do some wading. The race started promptly at 7:30 and we were off. I fell into a nice rhythm on the bluff trail trying to hold back. I knew I couldn’t run the whole thing at current stride, but I wanted to stay ahead of the large groups.

After about 14 miles, the course comes down to the base of Lookout Mountain, where the trail disappeared into flooded Lookout Creek. I started wading through the water trying to avoid the deep sections, I tripped over a submerged log and my hands went in to save the rest of my body from getting wet. That would be last of warm hands for a while. I left my nice gloves at the aid station, but the glove thief must have taken them from lost and found (yet again). I backed off the pace a bit knowing I was ahead of schedule. I was happy to make it up the mountain out of the shade and into the beautiful sun filled day.

Back at Covenant College, I was psyched to start the second half of the course headed for Lula Lake. I found a slower pace that would last a while and stuck with it. When I made it to Long Branch, I knew the hardest single-track portion of the race awaited me. I took it even easier navigating through even more streams and rolling hills, which seemed like mountains at that point.

I felt like I was home free after the twilight zone of Long Branch. I picked up the pace some and made it back to Covenant. It was another 50 miler down on the most adventurous course around. The course had more stream crossings than you could imagine, as well as the best and most challenging single-track trails in the area. From wading through rivers to hills so steep you have to use ropes to get up them, I loved it. It was more than a trail run it was an adventure race!

I wore the new Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes. I never lost traction throughout the mud, water, and rocks. They have a fantastic grip. They provide great arch support and are quite light. Did I mention the gnarly traction?

The race couldn’t have happened without the amazing volunteers, thanks to everyone from the Rock/Creek staff and fellow Race Team members, especially Randy and Kris Whorton, to Dawson Wheeler at the Lula Lake aid station, and to the guys that cut basically new trails through the tornado struck areas. Lance Steele, I know you were one of them. For the person that stole the Petzl headlamp out of my drop bag at Long Branch: shame on you!

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