The North Face Endurance Challenge can be summed up in one concise thought:
Needing a Sunday race, this weekend, that worked with my Saturday half in Darlington, SC had left me with limited options.
My budget required that I stay about an hour away in the small town of Newnan- making the drive to Pine Mountain early in dark of morning.
I had posted these race directions to my Facebook page a few days before the race when I was getting ready – I commented on the first aid station being at mile 5.3 – and drew attention to the final line of the instructions: “This section seems to be the longest and never ending 2.6 miles. The last .25 is in the field of the event site so keep some juice in the tank to kick in at the field where everyone will be watching.”
Funny, I thought. Little did I know what was coming.
The waiting school bus quickly took us to the start and the anxious nerves instantly dissipated when I reached what we reached the very impressing start line village. A large circle of tents set up for vendors and services sat in the glow of the start/finish gate. Nestled in the middle were multiple fire pits. The welcome brisk morning invited the early arrives to huddle around them, trading stories of how they came to the decision to run this race.
The packet pickup and bag drop were at the same location and took a matter of seconds. The high quality North Face technical shirts could be screen printed on sight with the race distance and date – while I skipped this option I was perused those which had been dropped off the previous day and was impressed with the work.
The beauty however is not the only thing that took my breath away, the massive climbs and rough terrain quickly separated the pack, and throughout the race a handful of us pushed forward with every bit of endurance we could muster.
Running most of the race with a woman named Heather – we traded stories of success and challenge, discovering that we have been at many events together – as well as future races we have planned. Even though this race was handing our egos to us on a silver platter – there was talk of training for the 50K race a year from now.
I fell twice, hitting my hand hard both times, ripping the knee of my running pants and taking a good about of skin off my right leg. After the second fall my hand began to swell – I commented to Heather that I was just happy it was my hand and not my knee. As long as nothing happened to sideline me from future races.
The reality that my shoes were not made for this terrain was painfully obvious. Not a seasoned trail runner – I had worn my road shoes on this trail – big mistake. I asked Heather how many pairs of North Face Trail Shoes they sell from runners that are battered and bruised after they complete this course.
I made a lot of mistakes before this race – and I paid for it the week following.
There are a few things I know for certain – I will be back, I can’t wait to see how training right will impact my performance on my return.
My new shoes – already ordered from the North Face Website, as we speak should help greatly.
As fate would have it… they coordinate beautifully with my brand new Half Fanatic Diva shirt!
The history of this event, as described by its founders is to “build lasting relationships with runners by creating an authentic experience with the North Face brand”. For me they have done exactly that.