The last race in the dubbed Mini-beast series due to the cancellation of Grindstone 100 this fall because of the government shutdown.
I was very excited and ready for a good long run.
The weather forecast promised some wintry mix and rain. After a couple of years of good weather, we believe Dr Horton the race director got what he wanted. You could almost see the horns at the side of his head...
I like running in the rain but with the temperature forecast being around low 30's was cause for concern.
Hellgate 100k is point to point starting near the Natural Bridge area at the base of a big mountain it first starts with an easy 3ish miles of nice runnable trail and gentle hills. Everyone took off and I was left climbing those first few little bumps on my own, right at the back of the pack. Some runners stopped to make an adjustment to clothing as they heated up quickly but they were right back way in front of me. I was scared at the base of that big climb and I had already rolled my ankle pretty good. I had some worries that I wasn't prepared for this race watching the runners headlights far in front of me, zig zagging slowly up the first big climb of the morning.
The nice man at the first aid station told me I was second to last but I told him I would catch up with the others. I played leap frog back and forth with 2 girls and finally pushed up and away past them.
They had warm food and a nice fire at aid station 2, I could feel the heat from it as I walked past it... promising myself I wouldn't go anywhere near them. They are bad trouble and can easily change a runners mind about going onwards!
Now done with uphill climb, the course goes across the BRP and its time to hit some single track that winds its way down thru the woods with a few rocks to keep you alert. This is my strength… a little technical but not too steep. I moved well but held back a little knowing I had still a long way to go. After a fun descent of about a mile the trail widens then takes a turn on some single track which has some fun short steep ascents and gentle hills for about another mile. Soon the fun single track hit ended and we climbed up another dirt road. It starts snowing, big, fat snowflakes. It’s a nice gradual climb to the top of this road, the snow making it hard to look up ahead for markers. The snow was beautiful and made me happy. I moved my light to the side of the trail to see all the snow that had accumulated and was stuck on the trees. A winter wonderland! There must be a couple of inches on the ground.
After Camping Gap aid station - which I don’t remember too well there was some nice climbing up gentle hills that reminds me a lot of the grassy wide section of Promise Land 50k, maybe I was on part of it. It was a fun section. It had stopped snowing and turned into a light wintry mix. The gentle short climbs gave a welcome break from running. The wide trail in great shape here, and it was easy to select a path from the runners before me. This section went on a while till you come to a turn down some fun single track. I stopped here to get a sandwich I had packed. I was getting pretty hungry and also shed my heavy layer. I felt much more comfortable after doing that… I didn’t do it earlier because I was scared of making the cut offs in time! There was a short climb and I knew I had been here before. Some tape across intersecting trails directed us in the correct direction. I recognized this part of
. The Rhododendrons
where spectacular under the headlamp,
thickly covered from the earlier snow. After the short climb up, the trail turns
very rocky and its downhill AND the footing is slick due to trampled down snow. I took my
time here not wanting to fall or slip. A
few switchbacks later I knew I was getting close to the road that I knew from
the Promise Land course. It was a welcome sight
to see the aid station and the end of this slow single track section. This was
Headforemost Mt about 21 miles in. Promise Land
Some hot broth hit the spot and I took another one, a little coke and off I went. This was the first aid station that I asked what the cut off was so I could get an idea how I was doing. They informed me the cut off was 6:10am and I had arrived around . I felt that I was doing quite well. I was comfortable with my pace and feeling good that I could maintain that and I got my first confidence booster of being able to finish this race.
Leaving the aid station we began some easy climbing and into the fog.. the road turned into a grassy road and I saw a kilt in front of me for a short while. Doug Campbell was a short ways ahead but I needed to make a pit stop and didn't see him again till a long time later on.
I don’t remember crossing the BRP again, but the next section is a long downhill run on single track and wider grassy trail. There were some nice views of the closer mountains that were covered in morning fog. I caught up with Helen MacDermontt and she was flying on the down-hill. I enjoyed her pace and didn’t want to get in front of her as I would probably blow my quads out if I did. She tried to let me go ahead a couple of times but I refused. The trail got wider and she expressed she was hungry. I was too, but I knew the aid station must be coming up soon.
We arrived at Jennings Creek 27 miles in and our first drop bag stop. They offered bacon and eggs. I couldn’t even think of eating eggs at this point, it didn’t sound appealing. I took more soup, but I knew I wasn’t eating enough. I was doing well eating some honey stinger chews and good ol’ hammer gel. I dug into my bag for my asthma med and restocked up on chews and gel and I was outta’ there.
I had caught up to Larry Huffman at the aid station but I didn’t see him so I left… more road - more climbing. The snow had made the road really slick and traction was bad… a lot of switching sides of the road to avoid camber. The middle or very edge of the road had the best traction. The slick spots not helping the ache that was building at the inside of my knee. Plenty of climbing here and a couple of people passed me along this stretch… Little Cove Mt aid station at the top of the big climb. It was lightly raining up here, so I needed to keep moving. I took some warm soup and A piece of potato. I had recognized a couple of volunteers that were at an earlier aid station and really thanked them for being out there all day. The next stretch had some nice downhill trail and then some downhill dirt road. I remember the rocks on the next single track section. Mostly an easy grade, would have been nice and runnable, but the rocks where hidden under the leaves and you had to take some time here. I passed a runner who was having trouble with the rocky section, I loved how the trail swooped in and out of the mountainside. After hitting some switchbacks and a crossing a creek getting my feet soaked again, a gentleman walking along the trail informed us to go across the road and up the short hill to the aid station. It was short, and Larry Huffman caught up with me at the aid station. It seemed very cold here at this big aid station. I got chilled fast. The pancakes were awesome and I asked for more.. I would have kept asking but I felt guilty for already taking two. I also took more broth. I stocked up on Gel from my drop bag and got outta there. The rain becoming more steady now began to chill your bones.
The next section had some runnable sections and a few rocks thrown in. The trail winds up, down, in and out of the mountain side.
Bobletts gap was under a bridge that I didn’t even know at the time was the parkway again. I was focused on what Mile I was at… and it was depressing when they said it was mile 49.5… knowing then I still had around 16 miles to go. I had … guess what… soup.. The hash brown tots looked good but I had trouble chewing them down. I got out of that aid station quick. I knew Larry Huffman wouldn’t be too far behind and it was really cold up there. As I was moving down the next trail I couldn’t figure that I really had that far to go when it dawned on me that the mileage they posted wasn’t in Horton miles. So really I had come about 52 miles. ‘Horton miles’ - so named because a stretch that is said to be 6 miles, will actually be 8 miles.
After some time on this destroyed downhill dirt road that had you jumping from one side to the other… the trail came out on a residential dirt road… you could get moving here and I though this might soon be coming up to the last aid station and the 3 mile climb up the to the parkway before the last descent down .. but I was wrong.
The road section ended after a mile and directed us onto a single track trail and some nice climbing. I felt really alone on this section.. I was a little disoriented and thought I was just about the only one out there and that maybe I was following some hunters trail ribbon. Each ribbon I saw gave me some confidence. I just couldn’t hear anyone around me and just hoped it was the right way. This was nice runnable trail, a little windy and gentle hills. I could hear a road not far off and wondered if I was going to hit it soon, but it took a long time. The trail dipped up and down thru tributaries. It went on and on. This was surely another so called ‘ 6 miles’ that was really 8.. it must have taken a couple of hours. I was so thrilled when I got to the last aid station just before 4pm. They assured me this section was a true 6 miles. 3 up - cross the parkway - and 3 down.
I didn’t take much to eat. I don’t think I took anything besides some coke. I wanted to get moving and be done.
I spotted a girl I had been close to much of the day but was never able to catch her. I felt good and strong on the climb up. I finally caught up and passed her. I knew it would be over soon. I caught up to Doug who was struggling with this last section. But I was excited to be here. The final stretch!
The wide dirt road winded around and you wondered how much further it would go, you thought you were getting to the top when around the bend there was a little more climbing and a little more.
Finally the gate, I crossed the parkway and it really is all downhill from there.
I was surprisingly able to run again even though my feet and knee ached. My fingers where numb and toes felt frozen. Once I was moving I didn’t feel too bad. The rain became heavy and I tripped a couple of times and decided to pull out my handheld light. The section turned into a wide dirt road and I knew I was getting close. Horton had the '1 mile to go' marker on the ground and I was soo happy I cried with joy. Joyful to have accomplished Hellgate 100k and the series of races that began a long time ago with
. Holiday Lake
The final turn into Camp
and I was already pumping my fist at my side.. I ran walked the last section
thru the camp but made sure no one was catching me. Bethel
Horton asked my number and I shone a light on it, 130.. he said ‘Diane Behm!” like maybe he was surprised?!
I had finished Hellgate! 17hrs 20 min 52 secs
Larry came in a couple of minutes after and Doug Campbell finished strong too.
Helen MacDermont uncomfortable with the close cut offs, kept going and also made it.
I told Horton how I hated him and his Horton miles. I was cursing out there on the course a little as a couple of the last sections dragged on and where longer than they should be.
But we love it really. Deep down, the extra miles, the challenges, the mental, physical fatigue, the lows, the highs, the people you meet, the encouragement and support of others, the amazing mountains and the desire to be on your feet for incredible distances. And when its over the bask of the glory in a great accomplishment is all yours to enjoy forever.
Thank you to all the volunteers out there for there countless time and clearing trail in preparation for this race. It didn’t go unnoticed. The trail was in fantastic shape.
Thank you, Dr David Horton for a superb race.
Till next year!