Summer in the City
The “Hot 2 Trot 8 Hour Race & Heat Training Extravaganza”
By Gary Griffin,
For the second time in two months this summer, Team Tallahassee (or at least a portion of the ultrarunning arm of it) ventured north to the big city of Atlanta for 8 hours of fun in the sun. We hid the still, kissed Momma and the dog goodbye, and saddled up for a field trip. We missed our sidekicks George Palmer and Dana Stetson who had come along for a nighttime affair down on the south side of town in Peachtree City in early June. Try as we might, we couldn’t talk ’em into another 8 hours of fun … Something about needing to do a 100 mile bike ride that day ….. What a shame. We could have used the entertainment Dana has a way of providing after he’s run for a good while.
This little run called Hot 2 Trot has been put on by Sarah Tynes of the Georgia Ultrarunning & Trailrunning Society (GUTS) for several years now and she does a great job of it. (Sarah’s a veteran of our Wakulla ultra and any number of ultras around the Southeast, and she delights in making life difficult for her entrants.) One has only oneself to blame, however. To quote from the entry form:
Runners are expected to use proper electrolytes in order to stay alive! The race director reserves the right to pull anyone whom she feels is putting themselves in danger.
If you do not know how to manage your electrolytes, learn BEFORE this run, not during! Warning: race director gets more mean every year…do not piss her off!
There’s something else about Hot 2 Trot. It is the only race I know of that has had more venues than the Tallahassee Marathon. When I ran it two years ago it was a paved loop around a county park. Last year it was somewhere else and this year we ran for the first time in the woods around an elementary school in Decatur, inside I-285 near Stone Mountain. I really think Sarah takes out an Atlanta map every Spring and throws a dart at it to decide the race locale. No one ever complains, though. You’re clearly warned to not piss of the RD!
Anyway, on to the race. Jeff went out as Jeff does – fast. I went out as my old, tired legs often do – slow. It was a muggy 80 degrees or so at the 8 a.m. start, but at least overcast for the first two hours. We ran a 1-mile loop that took us up several hills, over a large fallen oak from last week’s storm, and around two treeless fields. The trails were friendly like Overstreet, and the fields were unfriendly, like the Greenways. With school out, they hadn’t been tended too well, and it wasn’t exactly like running on the 16th fairway at Killearn in the early morning. The grass was high and wet and I could tell early on that this was gonna stink about 2 PM. You try and keep those thoughts out of your head during hour one of an 8 hour, but they kept surfacing: “This is not gonna be pretty in a few hours when that sun comes out …” After an hour or so I caught up to Jeff, running with our friend and Friday night host, Scott Ludwig, the RD of the aforementioned nighttime 8 hour in Peachtree City. Scott was quiet on race eve about his plans for the next day. He nearly won this race last year, but came in two weeks off a 50K, is training for an upcoming 100 in September, and besides, he was committed to his usual “Sunday morning 20” the next day. I doubt those things ever entered his mind as he went out at the 8 Hour, but I certainly couldn’t help but wonder what he was going to do with himself. Collectively, Jeff, Scott and I ran for an hour or so in 3rd place or thereabouts (there was a leader board but no one ever glanced at it – I mean, how meaningless is a leader board when 4-5 hours still remain in a summertime race in Georgia?) before Scott eased off to pace his fellow Darkside Running Club member, Susan Lance who would go on to 2nd overall female.
Jeff and I kept at it through 4 hours and shortly thereafter found ourselves leading. That was a shame, because my plan going in had been to run about as hard as I could for the first four hours, and then just “stay on my feet” for the last 4 hours. Being in the lead of a race though makes that difficult – especially for one who doesn’t get many chances at such things. Shortly before high noon, along about the marathon mark, Jeff took a longer than normal break to get up close and personal with the sponges in the bucket of ice water, and I went on – knowing that any stopping at this point would only make it more difficult to get back at it. For another hour, through the 50K mark, I held on for dear life, hoping (dreaming???) that the young road racer that looked so strong would not pick me off. Early in the 6th hour, he did just that. I ran with him for a bit, learned that “I’ve just started running ultras after being a road runner all my life,” before realizing that my mind needed to be on surviving this thing and not on my delusions of grandeur. If only he had run off and left me …. However, maybe 30 minutes after he went so swiftly by me, he seemed to go through one of the oh so common “bad patches” that haunt us ultrarunners. Suddenly, this is not so easy and not so fun. He was struggling a bit and I was feeling, well, not so badly again. Since this thing was a twisting, cross-country course, it was hard to get a fix on where he was except at the start/finish of the loop. For 30 minutes or so, I could tell I was getting some of that dirt and grass that he had left between the two of us. Would this last? I had mixed emotions. On one hand I wondered if maybe I could run this guy down. On the other hand, that would mean I was going to have to suffer mightily for the last 2 hours, and who wants to do that. I told Jeff at one point: “JB – I ain’t got the guts.” Not long afterwards he got his act back together and put the nail in the coffin, running off to victory by 2+ miles with a 48M total. I held onto 2nd with 46. Jeff, stating “I like round numbers,” decided it was Yuengling Time at a little over 7 hours and stopped at 40. Our buddy Scott did him even better. He headed for the beer cooler after 50K, sucked down three and came back out for another few laps. Gotta keep those liquids in you, ya’ know?
All in all, it was a success. We managed to not PO Sarah, so maybe she’ll let us back next year. Sure do hope not. When I got in the car to leave the outside thermometer read 94 degrees. It is now 48 hours after the end of that affair and I’ve still not stopped drinking water every half hour. That’s summertime in the Deep South. That’s Summer in the City. That’s Hot 2 Trot.