A pair of long runs make for two challenging weeks


Dana Stetson Running


The challenge was easy — to understand, at least. Run 50 miles with Gary Griffin at the Bartram Bash in Auburn, Ala., and then run the La Chua 50K in Gainesville the next weekend. At first the goal was to run Bartram as fast as I could, but after finding out about the second race, it was changed to cruise both races.

We arrived in Auburn in rare uneventful fashion. The next morning we even arrived a little early. We took off on our 50-mile jaunt. Early on I had a bad encounter with a root, and this changed the goal again. After the scare, I just wanted to finish the run.

Gary and I had a blast. We took more time than usual to talk to people, to explore a little and to just have some fun. Late in the run I decided 50 miles was too much for me on this day, and Gary went along with the change in plans. We finished early, and Gary, at least, was in good shape. I now had six days to rest, recover, and prepare for my next 50K.

On April 22, the inaugural running of the La Chua 50K was held on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail. This trail is a treasure. It provides a great view of rural Gainesville, horse farms and Paynes Prairie. The trail has bumps and curves. It runs through small towns, open fields, forest and off-course the huge expanse of Paynes Prairie. My race (the 50K) went out and back on a 16-mile section of the trail (you do the math about the course length).

The trail and conditions were near perfect. The people who worked this race were great. This is a must-do race for next year. It is a dream course which could be covered very quickly. The 50K this year had a small but fun crowd. There was a lot of support of each other as the racers spread out. The sight of a fellow racer was a welcome one after a while.

My goal of a fast time faded about as fast as my reserves of strength and endurance. In the end, I was left with the same kind of race I had in Auburn. I slowed down, talked much more, and looked around a lot more than usual. On a great trail, on a great day, you could do a lot worse. As I crossed the finish line, I was informed that the race had been. at least 0.8 mile long. I remember wondering why anyone would have minded that!