Would you run 50 miles of some of the most beautiful trail in Arkansas? What if it was just 50 kilometers? Most people, even seasoned athletes would say that kind of distance is intimidating, but 175 people thought it sounded like a great way to spend a Saturday. I had thought that I might be one of them this year but instead of running I would be lying in wait at the end of the first big hurdle of the race, the boulder scramble to the top of Pinnacle Mountain , to take photos.
In the inky darkness of the predawn hours I pulled on my backpack with my camera, a lightweight tripod, and some water and headed up the West Summit with Kevin, the radio man for the point. When I arrived at the top, the summit was still enveloped in darkness and I had several minutes of quiet contemplation. Within 30 minutes we started seeing an increase in traffic along Pinnacle Valley Road that we could only assume was family and support crews heading out for checkpoints along the course. The anticipation of seeing those first racers coming up the East side of the mountain was enough to keep my heart pumping despite the chill in the air. Soon the first runner was popping up from the rocky slope and then they kept coming. And coming. And coming. Waves of them. Some very serious. Some happily joking and mugging for the camera; many with companions, friends or spouses, sometimes shouting encouragement to those behind and just as often giving good natured teasing about how long it was taking. One thing I never tired of was the reaction of those who had never been to the summit of Pinnacle before. Those of us who use the park regularly sometimes forget just how lucky we are to have that view. I would like to thank those racers for reminding me to appreciate a place I so often take for granted.
Moments of appreciation:
Best Skirt for the Day: A tie between the brightly colored skulls and the kilt. I think I lean toward the kilt as the winner though I’d definitely wear the skulls.
Most Photogenic: I think she rivals that photogenic runner dude that went viral on the internet recently. I mean seriously, look at that smile.
Best Hair: Lisa’s Cornrows. Yes.
By 8:30 a.m. all the racers had passed and I was able to head down the mountain. I had commitments that afternoon that would take me away before most runners would finish but my hope for all of them was that the day ended for them as it had begun, a beautiful day in the Natural State. With tired feet and worn out legs, there is no match to the feeling of “YES!, I did it”.
The results are in and it looks like it was a course record for the 50 mile in both the men’s and women’s categories and the men’s category in the 50K. Congratulations! More pictures available on our Flickr site.