I have wanted to travel north up the the far north eastern corner of WV and experience this ultra called the WV Highlands Sky run. Everyone always talked about how great the course and how much fun they had. Little did I know I would finally get to experience it for myself. After DNF’ing at MMT 100 in May, my June schedule was suddenly free before taking a little break.
After a long 5 1/2 drive on Friday afternoon, my wife and I made it to Canaan Valley Resort. The beauty of the ski slopes from our room were amazing, little did I know I would hate this section come the next day. We ate at the Hickory Room, enjoyed the cheesecake and were off to the room for an early morning. I woke up around 3:45am on Saturday and began the prep for the race. I got on the school bus and enjoyed talking with the Bee brothers and J.L. Brown. I was glad to get off of the bus, as the ride made me a little car sick. Soon after, the race began and we were running and laughing on the road section. A huge pack trekked the 2 mile section before heading uphill. Once in the woods, my legs began to burn and I screamed out to the others, “do your legs burn like mine?” Everyone stated that we were in a patch of ‘stinging nettle’ and man, did it burn. I thought I was having some kind of allergic reaction to a bug bite or something.
Once on the steep climb I enjoyed the conversation with the other runners. Little did I know what lay ahead. I started feeling bad around the 18 mile mark right before the long 7.5 mile road section. I managed to fight through it and had moved all the way up to 4th right at 32 miles. All of a sudden like a ton of bricks hitting me, I started to vomit violently. Chris Palladino and his friend came running by as I laid there on the rock patch in agony, they gave me some fluid and so did a guy mountain biking. I managed to crawl into the aid station and get some ice. The heat took its toll on me. I don’t recall much after other than running with Bill Young and John Bridges the last little bit. John left me at the last aid station and I struggled in to the finish. I finally got in front of the lodge and realized I must have missed a turn, after going around the entire resort/hotel rooms, I saw the pool and came in the opposite way, everyone looked at me weird as I came in and said I had missed the trail section and ran further – great! A lady came over to me, I didn’t catch her name but she offered to go get me some ice cream, that did the trick and I’m thankful for her. I would have laid there another 2 hours without that ice cream. My wife was busy finding me some ice.
The race is tough but do-able. Dan Lehmann and the aid station workers are amazing and did a terrific job. The race runs like a 50 mile like I have heard from numerous people. The heat made it tougher this year and I was surprised that only 20 folks dropped. I’m glad I trekked north to WV and took part in the Highland Sky, I’ve got to come back and experience that last section I missed when I was delirious.