When I signed up for the Susquehanna SuperHike, I still wasn't sure what I was getting into. I've been running on the Appalachian Trail. So I at least felt a little more prepared. I knew that the course description said 'daunting', and upon registration I didn't focus much on that.
As time came closer for the race, the word 'daunting' became bigger and bigger ha. I was nervous. I didn't have a clue what I was getting into. I've never been to this area before, and I didn't know how hard it was going to be to find my way.
Thankfully, I started the race with a friend. She's more familiar with the area than I am. When the race started, I really didn't have too much of a goal in mind. I wanted to finish it between 4-5 hours, but mainly I just wanted to see what it was all about.
Hindsight 20/20, I should have pushed ahead of a lot of the hikers. The first mile or so (which I felt was very run-able at that point) was at a 24 or slower MPH pace. It was a creep and crawl hike.
When we finally came to the highway bridge, we were finally able to break free from some of the congestion and get ahead a little.
But in many places it was still creep and crawl - which at times came to my advantage.
It had been misting rain. The trail was already slippery in spots. My shoes were muddy and slick. We came to several huge boulders that we had to climb over. At one point (with people waiting behind me), I couldn't get a foot hold. It was just too slick. Thankfully the runner in front of me grabbed my hand, pulled me up, and then went on his way. I in turn helped the next person up and so forth.
Finally, we made it to check point 1. They checked our bib numbers on the way in, and on the way out. I felt the race was well organized (although the bus situation became a little frustrating, but I'll get to that in a bit)
Some of the 50K runners caught up with us and told us how in the first few miles of the race most of them got stung by bees. We commented how that wouldn't be fun! At about mile 7.5 I felt a pain in the back of my thigh. I looked around to see that I was standing in a swarm of bees. I screamed quite loudly "BEES!" and started running.
I got popped a time or two (unsure how many times), and the guy next to me also took a few more for the day. The next mile was not fun. Yes the scenery was beautiful, but I was hurting. I had chills, goose bumps, pain that was just radiating from the sting. And the drizzle was no longer a drizzle but a steady rain.
And it felt like we were climbing forever! And the steady rain turned into a downpour. The climb just kept going and going and going. Seriously, were we climbing to heaven???? By this point I'd been out there over 3 hours, and physically and mentally I was tired. Oh, did I mention soaking wet and starting to get a little miserable?
I didn't eat enough at the first check point. Actually, since my pack was almost still full of water, I didn't drink enough along the course either!
From that point the rain was relentless and we were on an open road and fields. There wasn't any protection.
I was soaked from the rain. My feet were wet from the rain and crossing streams, but when I re-entered the woods, I couldn't believe just how slippery the trail was. The mud was just unbelievable. In places we still had some deep descents, and this is where I slipped.
The guy in front of me did a butt slide. I started on my backside, but some how slipped over to my hands and toes and slid down like that. The lady behind me thought it was a great idea, and she and a few others came down the same way. It was a total accident, but nothing 'hurt' other than a cut on my arm.
At this point though my arms and hands are covered in mud, but a stream crossing was ahead. I was able to wash off the mud, but that didn't last long as the trail was nothing but a watery muddy mess.
I'e never run on anything like that - or hiked either. I ran where I could run until I started slipping too much, then I gingerly hiked the parts that felt almost like mud pits.
At several points, I found myself alone. I couldn't see anyone in front or behind me. The rain was coming down so hard I could barely see anything. There was rushing water on my right, and rocks/moss on my left and on the path. And, it was dark. As in.. I need my *affiliate link* Knuckle lights dark. It got a little spooky! (at this point I'd already been stung and didn't want that to happen again - or get snake bit - or slip off into the rushing water).
I'm sure in better light I could have enjoyed my surroundings more, but at that point I wanted out. Then I hit fog. Really??? Fog - at points pretty dense. So now I'm in the woods, alone, in the rain, in the fog, still can't see, it's slippery, and still very spooky.
Let's just say I was really glad to come into a clearing. Even happier when I saw a guy say that it was just around the bend.
Even happier when I heard music. And so extremely happy when I saw the finish line and then the clock.. 4 hours 31 minutes and some change.
The food was great (bbq and ice cream for me). But by then I was cold from being so wet for so long, and I was ready to get on the bus to get back to the start. This was the 'not so happy part'. I stood in line for about an hour or more to get on the bus to take us back to our cars. By then most of us were tired, cold, and just ready to get home. Eventually the bus came and through the flash flooding we made it back to our cars.
I did have a detour on the way home from roads being closed. Seriously, the rain was no joke.
But I finished. I keep telling myself that! I think I'm still a little in disbelief. It was one of the hardest courses that I have ever done.
Would I do it again?
Yes - I believe that I would!
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