The SSOD race (Stone Stairs of Death), is going on its third year running this November 9th. This race is special…not just because it is run on the famous cobblestones of Savannah’s River Street and, up the infamous Savannah Stone Stairs of Death. This is a special race because we pick a person and/or family that has suffered and endured greatly due to illness and, during the process of fighting for one’s life has had the added insult of fighting to stay afloat financially. The money generated from this race goes entirely to the person/family afflicted by illness and financial debt.
I have had friends that through no fault of their own cancer has invaded their lives and left them broken, physically and financially. It is hard for me to fathom why a person that has fought a valiant fight with cancer or other debilitating disease and, during the process has had to endure financial ruin. Enduring and surviving a terrible illness is hard enough. Why should their finances be ruined too? Why should they spend the rest of their lives paying off the debt accumulated during their fight for their life? It shouldn’t be this way…not in a country as prosperous as ours. Unfortunately, it is this way. I know this first hand. Last year I suffered the worst health issue of my life. I had an extreme case of pericarditis. It almost killed me. Thankfully, I am still here and, still rebuilding my health. But, as good as my health insurance is I have come out of this with almost $20,000 in medical debt. I have a good job with a great organization but it will take me years to pay off this healthcare debt.
Now, lets talk about Stephanie Moore. In the southeast US, Stephanie is known well in the ultra running community. With her bright pink hair, tattooed body and Iron Maiden shirts she wears she is easy to spot at the starting line of an ultra running event. There is of course, more to this person than the pink hair, tattoos and Iron Maiden shirts. She is a bright and warm human being with a deep love for dogs and nature. She is an outdoors woman with a big heart. People are drawn to her because of her heart. She is what we call “good people”.
Through no fault of her own, Stephanie was afflicted with colon cancer at the age of 29. She’s battled cancer for the past four years even as the cancer spread to her liver. At 33, she is cancer free but, she is now fighting another war, -this one being a financial one. This should not be.
Although a small race, the SSOD race can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Through this small race (only 65 runners can sign up), we have the opportunity to pay it forward big time. Through this ridiculous race we have the opportunity of celebrating our health and, making a huge difference in someone’s life. We have the opportunity to help lift a dark cloud of financial debt from over a person’s life and, give that person some relief as she kickstarts her life again.
The SSOD race is not for everyone but everyone can play a part in helping out Stephanie. You can support Stephanie by a direct donation or sponsoring one of the runners. You may make a direct donation at the SSOD race registration site: SSOD4Stephanie
You may also sponsor a runner. If you know someone that is running this race reach out to them and let them know that you want to sponsor them. Here is a link to the runners signed up for the SSOD race: SSOD Runners
We have a goal of raising at least $10,000 for Stephanie. That is a lot of money but mind you, its just a drop in the bucket of the expenses Stephanie has endured. If we sell out this race that is capped at 65 runners, we can easily reach the aforementioned goal by each runner getting $155 worth of sponsorship. That’s not hard to do. Please reach out to family and friends and get them to sponsor you for this event.
I’m a firm believer in what goes around, comes around. Whatever you hurl out there will come back to you, whether positive or negative. Pay it forward, please! After we’ve covered the expenses of holding this race every cent over that cost goes directly to Stephanie Moore. Any donation you make goes directly to Stephanie Moore and does not get used for covering the expense of the race. The expense of this race is covered solely with the registration fee of the race. .
Until we get this shit figured out with healthcare in our country, lets step out of our box and help each other out. Its the right thing to do. Thank you so much!
The SSOD race (Savannah Stone Stairs of Death race) is a unique, challenging race. This is a race that is ALL Savannah! It puts runners on Savannah River Street cobblestone and up those treacherous, steep, uneven infamous 33 steps in downtown Savannah.
The purpose of this race from the beginning has been to help out people we know that are experiencing hardship. The first two year’s of this race’s proceeds ($2000.00 total) went to the Gail Thatcher and family. Gail’s daughter, Layla, fought hard to survive cancer and, in the process the family accumulated a lot of debt.
The recipient of the 2019 SSOD race is Stephanie Moore. Stephanie is a colorful character (literally had pink hair when I first met her). She is an ultra runner, dog lover, nature lover…she has an immense love for life. At 29 years of age, she was stunned to learn that she had colon cancer. At age 33, she had stage 4 cancer. Stephanie has fought an incredibly hard battle…physically and financially.
For the November 9th race, we’ve set a goal to raise $10,000.00 for Stephanie. That seems like a lot of money but its a drop in the bucket for the expenses she’s endured. The SSOD race is capped at 65 runners. We simply cannot put more runners than that on the 1/3 of a mile loop that runners will be running from 1 to 2 hours. More than 65 runners and we’ll have a bottleneck at the stairs and people running into each other.
The registration for the SSOD race is $50 per runner. That $50 registration will be used to help pay the costs of the race which averages $2000 per year to hold. $50 times 65 runners gives us $3250. Take away the $2000 and we’re at $1250. This is where we have to become creative in finding ways to maximize the collection pot for Stephanie. We ask each runner to recruit sponsors for their race. Ask your family and friends and, total strangers to sponsor you, the runner, for your race. They can sponsor you per mile you run or a lump sum. Like I said, we have to be creative in this endeavor. $10,000.00 seems like a huge number but with 65 runners it comes down to getting approximately $185 per runner to reach that goal. That’s not a lot of money! We can do this.
This year, I again, plan to run the SSOD race and, raise money for Stephanie. One thing I forgot to mention is that after race expenses, the rest of the money goes directly to Stephanie Moore. After the race we hand her a check and she does whatever she wants with that money…it’s hers.
With this year’s race we’ll offer extra shirts to sell as a way of increasing the take for Stephanie. The shirts will sell for $20 each. We’ll also provide stickers to sell to the sponsors.
We have an opportunity here to run an incredible, challenging race and also, in helping out someone that could really use some help. This is a great opportunity to pay it forward and, challenge yourself at the same time. The SSOD race is tough but so are you! And, so is Stephanie!
Please register for this race and get your sponsors!
Use the following hashtag for social media posts regarding the SSOD: #ssod4stephanie #run4stephanie
I like memes. I cannot lie. They’re funny, provocative, inspiring, outrageous…they’re just fun to me. I am also a fan of trading cards such as baseball cards. As a kid I collected baseball cards. As a young adult I got into X-Men cards and, had a vast collection of them until a flood wiped them all out…that’s life, right?
Last month I was trudging through some deep, punchy snow on Mt Baker and sweat was dripping like a leaky faucet off of the tip of my nose and chin. I was exhausted but I had a goal that I wanted to reach. I wanted to make it to aid station 6 before 11:00 am and reach Mt. Baker’s Sherman summit during the Mt Baker Ultra. The thought going through my head was ‘do or die’. I wanted this so bad. As I rested my head on my trekking poles for the umpteenth time a meme came to mind. It was a picture of some dude standing with his back to the camera, on a barren hilly location, looking into a wide expanse of space and a thick fog quickly enveloping the landscape. In bold white letters above the dude, a statement read, “YOU CAN KEEP GOING LONG AFTER YOU THINK YOU CAN’T”. Those words hung over my mind’s eye and I put myself in the place of the dude and, continued my trudge toward the aid stations between me and my goal. To dramatically shorten a long story, I did not reach the summit but that’s a different story. This story is about memes and trading cards.
After that race (my failed attempt at the Mt Baker Ultra), the meme stayed with me but, it was no longer that dude, – that stranger in the meme with that powerful statement above him that was in my mind’s eye and, it was now actually me. So, I thought of making a personalized meme of me with that powerful statement. That seemed so arrogant, though. I mean, how could I share that meme with me on it…especially, after dnf’ing the race that inspired that meme? That thought led me down a path of thinking about the many people that inspire me. And, believe me, there are a lot of people that inspire me! I have a lot of friends that are runners, mountain climbers…these are people with amazing drives. They push themselves to new heights and further distances. They make it seem that the impossible is literally quite possible. I like to call these folks my tribe. And, that is when I began to think, why not make inspirational memes with the very people that inspire me, – my tribe? And so, I began doing that and, even made a running memes photo album on facebook containing inspirational memes with the very people that I love and I’m inspired by. Well, it didn’t stop there.
About a week ago my girlfriend’s son, Nicholas, was showing me his Pokemon cards and explaining to me what they’re about. I had absolutely no idea what the hell he was talking about BUT, the cards stuck in my head. As he continued explaining the Pokemon world to me my mind was thinking, baseball cards from my youth. It then hit me, how cool would it be to have ultra running cards or, simply, running cards? I mean, trading cards like the old baseball cards I used to collect as a kid? I then thought, who would actually give a shit about these? And, as thoughts usually do, they begin to mold a life of it’s own and quickly the thought evolved into, – make running cards of those very people that inspire me so much! I love keeping up with my running friends running conquests. I like taking pictures at races. I literally have thousands upon thousands of archived pictures I’ve taken at races that I host and, races that I go to that others host. I thought, I know photoshop just enough to be dangerous…I could do this.
For days, I continued to play out the idea of running cards in my head. Finally, I looked at a picture I had taken of a friend of mine at a recent run and thought, she ran 50 miles several months ago in one long shot. That had been such a big goal of this lady for the last couple of years. Finally, she achieved it and, I was there to witness it. It was quite an epic, moving moment. After this amazing feat by Luann the rest of the world continued moving on but I still found myself thinking about it from time to time. This was a big deal! This was a big deal to her. This was a big deal to me! I mean, she achieved this epic goal on a race that I host! How powerful is that? How moving! To make a long story longer, Luann became my first ever running card guinea pig. I googled “vintage baseball cards” and looked through hundreds of cards until I found one that I really liked and, created a template from it to use for my running cards idea.
After making that card and posting it online, I suddenly wanted to do more cards! So, I started cranking out more as I have time to do so. I’ve made another facebook photo album for running cards.
Posting these online vintage looking running cards seems to have struck a nerve with a lot of my running friends. They seem to love this idea. So do I! With these cards I get to share the feats and goals of my amazing running friends in a format that is so nostalgic. I literally love making these cards and posting them to that album and anxiously await a response from the subject of that card. My hope is that they will love it…My fear is that they will be offended by it. So far, a lot of love is emanating from these cards and, that makes me happy!
Can I monetize this? Probably not and, that’s not the intention. I’m just enjoying the process. I will keep making them and posting them online. I will continue making memes of my running friends and continue being inspired by them. Its wholesome fun for me. I hope you all that have seen these cards and memes like them as much as I do.
Thank you all for the great inspiration that you are in my life!
Veni, vidi…I did not conquer. That’s the gist of my year long goal of flying to Washington last week to run and complete the Mt. Baker Ultra, a 56 mile race that had runners summit Mt. Baker’s Sherman’s Peak and then run back. It was a hard race…point in fact, it was the toughest race I’ve ever gone after. I’ve done a lot of ultras and, have dnf’d many but, this has been one of the very few races that has thoroughly kicked my ass. I was unable to finish it simply because I could not meet the 11:00 am cutoff to make it to the summit. I pushed myself hard on this one but still could not beat the clock. I’ve never been as exhausted on a race as I was during this one, especially when I hit the snow section. With every step I sunk several inches into snow…every several feet I would sink in the snow to my knees. There was four miles of this nonsense until you reached the glacier, which I never made it to, sadly. If I had made it to the glacier that would of entailed 1933′ feet of elevation gain in 3/4’s of a mile to reach the summit.
I went to Washington as mentally and physically prepared as I could. This race was a very important race to me. It combines two of my great loves – ultra running and mountaineering. Actually, as far as I know, it is the only race that combines ultra running and mountaineering…two very tough to do sports. So, to make a long story longer, I signed up for the Mt. Baker Ultra last year after being given a second chance at life. You see, I had a pretty bad case of pericarditis last summer. It was so bad that it almost killed me. Doctors had to perform an emergency operation and in doing so removed over a liter of fluid from around my heart. My heart was so swollen with fluid that my left lung was pinched and not functional. Add to it that I’m now over 50 years old and my body just doesn’t recover as well as it used to. So, my recovery has been very slow and frustrating. I have been fraught with injury after injury. At the beginning of this year I injured my back. Two weeks after that, I suffered a knee injury that prevented me from running literally from Feb 6th to mid-April. By the time I began my taper my longest training run before Mt Baker was 14.5 miles. That just wasn’t ample running time for a race of this caliber. In retrospect, it was probably not a wise decision for me to sign up for a race of this difficulty and intensity without at least a half year of heavy running. I wanted this race, though. I wanted it badly. So, I trained hard with what I could which was lots of rowing on a concept two rower, lots of stationary bike riding and, topped that with some serious stair master training. If I couldn’t pound the asphalt with my feet I was going to do my best with other types of endurance training. And, that did help but it still wasn’t enough.
By signing up for the Mt Baker Ultra I was hoping to reclaim all that I have lost since the pericarditis I experienced last summer. I thought, one year of training would be enough. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate the injuries I suffered. They took me out of training for too long. I needed more training in running. I needed a faster pace. I had strength for the climbs but I didn’t have the speed needed to cover the first 21 miles at a faster pace. The first 21 miles of of this race was on forest roads with what appeared on map to be gradual elevation gain of 3200′. What I did not anticipate was that some of the elevation gains came rapidly and steeply. The course would then even out and, at times, even drop down a several hundred feet only to climb steeply again. My plan was to run the first 21 miles at a 12-13 minute per mile pace. By the time I reached aid station three (the 21 mile mark and start of the trail running section) my knee was throbbing and my overall pace was 17-18 minute per mile.
By the time the trail cleared to open mountain I was way behind my projected schedule. On the snow, I knew that I would be slowed significantly but again, I misjudged how slow I would be. I tried to move faster on the snow but just couldn’t. Slipping, sliding and punching through deep snow made progress very slow. My trekking poles were a huge benefit on the snow! Sadly, by the time I reached aid station 4 I knew that my race was over. The volunteers at that station were amazing but honest. They melted snow and gave me enough water to fill up my two water bottles but they said that I could push on but I would be turned away when I reach aid station 6. The 11:00 am cutoff for the summit is pretty strict. It has to be. It was very warm that Saturday and the snow was melting fast, making for an unstable glacier climb. The safety precautions that the race management put in place were impressive and extreme. The 11:00 am cutoff was put in place and enforced for the safety of the runners and the race crews. You have to respect that on a mountain like Mt Baker. The summit conditions had deteriorated significantly. The size of the summit had decreased from six feet across to two feet across. I stared hard at the summit from my vantage point which was still two miles away. I said to no one in general, “that’s that” and, sat down on a large rock outcrop and dug out a bagel from my backpack. I ate it and started my trek back down.
One of the more important things I’ve learned from mountaineering is that the mountain sets the rules and you have to respect it if you want to be around for another shot at it. At the rate I was moving I would of reached Aid station 6, which is just shy of the summit, by at least 12:30 pm.
As I worked my way back down I pulled out my camera and took some pictures. I had tried to stay away from my camera while I was still in the race as I did not want any distractions. Now that the race was over for me I took time to take in the beautiful vistas of Washington state. I worked my way back down to Aid station 2 where Kerry was waiting for me.
At Aid station 2, the volunteers greeted me warmly with m&m’s, fresh watermelon and hot espresso coffee. The volunteers throughout the race were simply amazing. They all made me feel so welcomed and appreciated. They gave me five star treatment. I hope they know how much I appreciated them!
Kerry and I drove down to the finish line from Aid station 2 and had a great conversation with the RD, Dan Probst. Dan is one heck of a guy! His passion for this race is so obvious. And, the safety of his runners and crews was not second by any stretch. For the past three years he has pulled off an incredibly difficult race to hold. There are so many parts to this race and, safety is the biggest concern. Dan Probst and crew laid out 9300 feet of rope for this race! They marked a course on the open mountain by probing with long rods to ensure the runners and crew would not inadvertently walk over a crevasse that was hidden by snow. The aid stations had everything a runner needed to fuel and go. I am thoroughly impressed.
The 2020 Mt Baker Ultra race opens for registration tomorrow and, I’m signing up for it again.
Thank you so much for helping us send off DFL on such a positive note! It was a great pleasure meeting so many of you! I wish all that had registered could of made it to this event. Saturday, June 20th was a spectacular day to run for hours on end. A few days before the race I feared that the harsh weather coming the day before the race would wreak havoc on the trail course but thankfully, the damage was minimal.
This was the last year for this race. With a heavy heart we are bidding it farewell. In the future, we may bring back another 24 hour running format but more than likely it will be at another location and, at least, not for another two or three years. In any case, it will be by a different name as well.
I want to give a shout out to our wonderful volunteers that helped not just during the race but before it…a week before, – clearing the trail! Adam and Laura Gross and, son, Soren came out to help us clear a lot of dangerously leaning trees off of the course. Michael Shelly-Moody and Bill Bailey also came out and helped move trees off the trail and cut back the ever growing shrubs along the sides of the trail. Jen Smith and Rachel Reese were indespensable on race day. Thank you, all!
There were some amazing performances at this year’s DFL 24! We had several runners get distance PR’s. Here are just some of those incredible feats performed by the DFL runners…
Sally Libonati came to the race on a mission and, she succeeded! She ran 102 miles in 24 hours on a course that can be quite demanding on the body. She was relentless in her pursuit of her goal and, nothing short of inspiring! Watching her race down the clock was so impressive! She was the only 24 hour runner to buckle this year. And, she also gets a DFL 24 signet ring.
A close friend of mine, Luann Lucier, was chasing down her first 50 miler and, of course, she succeeded! Friends from all over town rallied behind her and helped her clinch her first 50 in the early hours of Sunday morning. It was quite moving to see her accomplish a goal she’s sought out for the past couple of years.
Brad Setzer went after his first ultra distance goal and ended up with 70 miles…mind you, his longest run to date had been 25 miles! This man dug deep and found the strength and perseverance to achieve an impressive milestone.
Speaking of milestones, there’s Lindsey Dowling’s impressive 52 mile finish for 24 hours after dedicating her race to helping Luann achieve her 50. This past January, Lindsey achieved her distance pr of 39.3 miles. She then went after her first 100 at the CGG 100 mile ultra. The race didn’t go as she had hoped but yet, she reached another distance pr by running 75 miles! Three weeks later, with an injured hip, she cranked out 52 miles at DFL. That is quite amazing! She is an extraordinary human being!
I’ve had the good fortune of meeting Mandy McNeese a couple of years ago at one of our other trail races (a Run thru the Woods). It was so awesome to see her get a distance PR of 52 miles and achieve it in 12 hours with a first place female award at DFL!
Adrienne Anderson made her ultra debut at DFL as a relay teammate on “None Fast, All Dubious”. Her 24 hour relay team ran a respectable 150 miles with her solo run distance of 54 miles, earning her 3rd place 24 hour female.
Mary Owen signed up for 12 hours and ran a distance PR of 38 miles! And, she did so with a smile on her face the whole time!
Chris Varnadoe cranked out 60 miles in twelve hours! Is that not amazing?!
Chris Novakoski cranked out 38 miles in six hours! On this winding course, that is quite extraordinary!
Sixteen year old Soren Southard ran his first ultra and in six hours finished with 30 miles! That’s amazing!
Ace Brown signed up for the three hour race and ran 24 miles! Again, this is not the fastest course and yet this young man made it look easy to run a lot of miles on it!
It was quite amazing to witness so many runners achieve PR’s or, just to witness these amazing athletes run! It is truly quite touching that so many runners chose our race to pursue their running goals and, to have them achieve and even, exceed their goals was just extra sweet!
I say this all of the time…you could of chosen from so many other races that are out there but, you chose ours as your race. We are so grateful for that. That’s why we work so hard and try to give you the best race we possibly can. We want you to achieve your goals with no unnecessary obstructions in the way.
Here are some fun stats regarding this year’s DFL 24.
Sixteen 24 hour runners ran 886 miles. That’s like an average of 55 miles per runner.
Thirteen 12 hour runners ran 502 miles. That’s like an average of 41.8 miles per runner.
Eleven 6 hour runners ran 266 miles. That’s 24.1 miles per runner.
Thirteen 3 hour runners ran 200 miles. That’s 15.3 miles per runner
The total combined miles of all timed races was 1854 miles. That’s an average of 34.98 miles per runner
DFL had a total of 53 runners toe the starting line.
These stats also show us that although, all four timed races (3hr, 6hr, 12hr, 24hr) were popular choices, the 24hr and 3 hr were the most popular. That’s quite interesting, is it not? I think we may start to see more 3 hour formats pop up at timed events.
Here are some more neat stats…
DFL in 2017 had 25 runners
DFL in 2018 had 30 runners
DFL in 2019 had 53 runners
When you look at the numbers of runners registering for the past three years for DFL you’ll see again that the 24 hour and 3 hour time slots are the most popular.
This was the third and final year for DFL 24 For those that have wondered what DFL stands for, it’s not, Dead Fucking Last. Instead, it stands for, Dairy Farm Love. I’ll admit that the acronym was a play at Dead F’n Last, – ultra slang for the very last runner of a race but, I assure you, that Dairy Farm Love is the real meaning behind it. The reason is simple. It is at the Roberd’s Dairy Farm that I found solace after losing two dogs to cancer and, the end of a heart wrenching relationship. It is at the dairy farm that I would go to commune with God and nature. It is where I would go to find peace and healing for my broken heart. Part of the healing process has been the making of the trail called “Gypsy’s Trail” which so happens to be part of the DFL 24 course. Gypsy was a middle aged Australian Shepherd I rescued. He was with me as I began to carve out the trail through the dairy farm woods. Halfway through with the 1 mile trail Gypy’s cancer finally caught up with him and I lost him as well. Again, the df was a place for my healing.
Bringing a 24 hour running format to Savannah was important to me. Savannah is a beautiful city with a very rich history and, that’s what attracts many people to it as a vacation destination. That is great! I also believe, though, that Savannah is a great running location and race destination. Our hot muggy summer environment makes a strong runner. Our mild winters allow outdoor training year round. And, our flat geography lends itself for fast flat courses for record breaking especially, with the mild winters we have. Some of my thinking with the 24 hour format in Savannah has been that runners can come down to Savannah run and then maybe later, explore unique Savannah. Or, while one member of the family is running the others can explore this beautiful city of ours. Or, even better, everyone hangs out at the 24 hour venue and makes it a big family running party!
Be assured, the 24 hour running format in Savannah is not over with the end of the DFL 24. We will come back to it. These long races are so demanding. We need a little break from it especially since DFL is just three weeks after the CGG 155 mile ultra where sleep deprivation is the name of the game. We were not fully recovered from CGG before jumping into DFL. When we bring back a 24 hour running format there will be more distance between it and CGG.
In summary, the DFL 24 has been very special to me. I know that its been very special for our other two race directors, Kerry Dulina and Jason Edenfield. Without those two I would not have been able to make these races work. Without you that chose to run with us there would not have been a three year running of DFL. Thank you all for bringing life to this race and, to all of the races we hold as Rough Runners!
I am so very grateful to all of you that have been our bedrock of support for the races we put on. With you all we’ve been able to collectively accomplish so much…from running milestones to fast pr’s to tens of thousands of dollars generated and donated to worthwhile charities -all, through these races! That’s quite extraordinary! Thank you, all!
How do I even begin to wrap my head around the 2019 Coastal Georgia Greenway 155 mile ultra this past weekend and, how epic it was?
Nine runners signed up for the 155 mile version of the CGG and one for the 100 mile version of it. At the end, eight crossed the finish line while two did not. The two that did not my heart goes out to them. I know how big of a deal this was to you both and I’m sorry that your race did not go as you had expected or hoped. Please be gentle with yourselves and come back when you’re ready.
The CGG 155 and 100 are beasts. Any point to point race is tough. The CGG 155 starts in Savannah and follows the coast of Georgia, ending in St. Mary’s, a city a stone’s throw from the Florida border. A run like this quickly begins to tear down runners mile upon mile with so many potentially dangerous obstacles thrown at them.
The CGG is a race that demands acute alertness and attention to detail. Runners have to navigate a tremendous amount of real estate. Throw in potentially sketchy sections of towns, road traffic and construction, narrow, to no road shoulders, -loose, unsupervised dogs and, an occasional feral hog and alligator along the way can add to the dangers of this long journey.
Runners that decide to take on the CGG 100 or 155 must have a plan and, a contingency plan because things will happen that will challenge you physically and, mentally along the way. Having a strong running endurance foundation will make this journey a better, less painful experience as 100 and 155 miles of running in 35 and 60 hours (the cutoffs for the 100 and 155) are a heck of a lot of miles to crank out in a short duration of time. Mental endurance, though, may be the strongest skill set you bring to the CGG ultras. 100 and 155 miles on open roads from point to point, with traffic thick and light scattered through-out, lack of sleep, pounding asphalt through out the day and night, dramatic shifts in temperatures and climate, will tax the strongest of us and try desperately to break us down.
And secondly, and perhaps most importantly, any runner choosing to run the CGG 100 and 155 should come with a crew on board and a finely tuned plan of execution. If there ever is a race where the success of a runner is pertinent to the quality of their crew it is this race.
Friday, March 29th, the 155 mile runners began their run on Hutchinson Island and wound their way south toward St. Mary’s as most of Savannah was still stirring in sleep at 5:00 am. By the time they reached Richmond Hill, almost thirty miles from the start, the Coastal Empire was fully awake and highway 17 (where most of this journey takes place) certainly let the runners know that with so much traffic on the road.
Leaving Richmond Hill behind them, the runners were given many opportunities to see and experience the southern comfort of rural, coastal Georgia. The runners ran through quaint towns, past farm land, over long stretches of marshland and rivers and, forests.
All of CGG runners had their crews with them, inching up several miles ahead and ready to support their runner. The runner’s crew serves at the pleasure of the runner. That’s how its done.
This year’s runners, ten in total, are the biggest group of runners we’ve had at this event. Managing a race with only ten runners with such a vast amount of geography proved a great challenge to Kerry, Jason and I (the RD trio of the CGG ultra) but we managed to pull it off especially because of the indispensable help we got from Scott Owenby. Having Scott join our team allowed us to spread out across the field and be at the locations we needed to be through out the race. Having great phone coverage also helped in communicating with everyone at all times during the race.
The runner’s crews were amazing not just with their runners but with us, always keeping us abreast of where the runners were.
The line up of runners for this was quite diverse. There was our home town favorite, Bren Tompkins. He is such a genuinely good person. He works hard at everything he does. He is one of the most accomplished and fastest runners from Savannah. This run for him was very special. He was running in honor and remembrance of his older brother, Bo, who died last year of cancer around this same time. He was also raising money for a cancer cure, F*ck Cancer.
From the start, Bren ran like a champion, reaching the 100 mile mark in 19 hours, 19 minutes! That’s fast!
After those hundred miles the race turned sideways for him. Running these great distances in a short period of time seems to be inexplicable to our finite minds. Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution cannot fathom why we purposely choose to run ultra marathon distances. So, the mind begins to break down as also the body does. Ultra running is not natural. Self-preservation is natural, though. And, I believe that is why the mind begins to betray our goals when we take on such big, difficult tasks. Those that can master their minds master their bodies and, go on and achieve these incredible ultra running goals. I’ve seen this same kind of mindset with mountain climbers. You set an incredibly difficult goal to achieve and you train for it physically and mentally….then, you go after inching your way up a mountain claiming little bits of real estate step by patient step until you reach the top. Every inch you claim is painful but you endure because to you, its worth it.
With the help of an outstanding crew and pacers, Bren won the battle of the mind and forced himself to finish what he set to do. It took him 26 hours to cover the remaining 55 miles but he did it! Bren’s finish time was 45 hrs, 25 minutes. There is a lot to be said about that! I am incredibly proud and in awe of him! His team, though, deserves a tremendous amount of applause as he would not have done the impossible without them!
At this year’s race we had the honor of having an ultra running living legend toe the starting line, Joe Fejes. Joe’s resume of races run is as long as an ultra. His running accomplishments would turn this blog into a novel if I were to write them all out. He is a current record holder for the 6 day mileage race (600 miles). At 53 years of age, Joe proved why he’s considered one of the greats of ultra running. After having a rough start he found his groove and machined his way to the lead, finishing at 37 hours, 51 minutes…setting the second fastest CGG 155 finish time to date.
In all due honesty, I am always so very grateful for anyone that chooses to run one of our Rough Runners races. I mean, there are so many races to choose from out there…that you would choose one of ours for your running goals is quite a meaningful thing to me that fills me with great gratitude. To have Joe Fejes run the CGG 155 kind of took my breath away. Up until the day before the race I had not personally met him. I knew of his reputation of being an amazing athlete and human being but I had never met him. I nervously shook his hand last Thursday. By the end of the weekend, I had come to see what everyone else has said about this man, he is as awesome of a runner as he is a genuinely good man.
Speaking of a good man, Nathan Dewey, of Mount Pleasant was among the first to register for the 155 CGG ultra. I have come to know that Nathan executes races as does last year’s CGG 155 record holder, Steve Barber, -with a deliberate, well thought out plan of execution. He had studied the course and asked more questions than anyone else regarding the course. His race turned out pretty much as expected as he clinched second place overall with a finish time of 39 hours, 20 minutes. I remember Nathan arriving at the Darien checkin (mile 83) and saying that he could not hold anything down and had thrown up on his way to the third checkin. He then added, “that is to be expected..” After about ten minutes of small talk as he checked on his feet he gathered his stuff and, his pacer got him a cup of coffee and off they went…south, down highway 17, leaving Darien behind for good.
Several hours after Nathan left the Darien checkin, ultra couple, Jesse and Paige Ausec arrived. The Ausec’s are one of the most wonderful folks I know. My gosh, I cannot tell you how much I love these two young folks. They are sweet and endearing. They are also tough as nails!
At the third checkin, which is at the Smallest Church in America (mile 58), they decided to renew their ultra vows. And, they asked me to officiate. Honestly, I was quite moved but at the same time wasn’t sure if they were joking. We entered the small church, -I stood behind the alter as Jesse asked two of their crew team to stand in as hand maids. He then took his lovely wife’s hand and asked me to say a few words. Not knowing what to say, I began rambling about these two and this moment and thanked God for them. Anyway, to make a long story long, Jesse gave me a look that to me, implied, enough! He then shared some words with Paige on how much he loves and appreciates her. They then kissed. Then, they hit the road together in the dark….with lots and lots of gnats chasing after them. It was magical moment that I will always remember.
The Ausec’s would go on to finish the run at 56 hours, 17 minutes with Paige taking first place female, also making her the second woman to finish the CGG 155. Paige, though, would not be the only woman to finish the CGG 155 this year. Maggie Seymour would join Paige hours later, making her the third woman ever to complete the CGG 155.
Maggie, a former marine badass crossed onto the small patch of grass in front of the amphitheatre that signifies the finish of the CGG 155 at Howard Gilman Memorial Park in 59 hours and 14 minutes. She lay in a fetal position on the grass and exclaimed with a bright smile at learning her finish time that she still had 44 minutes to nap. Everyone laughed. Maggie kept a sense of humor through out the race. Her light-heartedness through out the run made her beloved by all that came across her.
Maggie is also on a quest to run across every state in honor and for veterans and special needs athletes. Before the run she asked me of a charity that she could run for while doing the CGG and, I said, how about Georgia Conservancy? Well, she did just that and through her CGG run she raised over $600 for the Ga Conservancy! Maggie is such a joy to be around.
Shane Tucker, a friendly but quiet high school teacher from North Georgia joined our gang and crossed the finish line in 50 hrs, 17 minutes. His parents and life long friend crewed him for the race. The Tucker family and crew were such a delight to be around. After Shane finished the run Kerry and I met up with the Tuckers at Cedar Oak Cafe and got to know them a little more. Such a wonderful family.
Shane is a veteran runner and ultra runner. He has cranked out some big ultras and, the experience on taking on this beast, the CGG, proved it. Shane did not run very fast but his pace was constant and deliberate.
Rounding out the CGG 155 finishers was another local favorite, Tony Varney. Tony is such a kind-hearted man that everyone loves. He is also, tough as nails! A 155 mile race is never going to be easy and he knew that going in and, he battled with every inch of real estate he gained. Amid tears, Tony would find humor to help him out during this struggle and, to put a smile on everyone’s face. Tony is also a local race director holding two very popular ultra races (Madder Marsh and Badder Marsh) that give all of the proceeds to very worthy charities.
Just as Bren dug deep and tapped into a secret volume of strength from deep inside so did Tony. During this race, Tony reminded me of Rocky Balboa from the first Rocky movie. He just kept getting up and coming for more. I am so impressed at his determination and strength! Tony was my hero for this race.
In the end, I wish every runner had completed their race. The races Rough Runners hosts are tough but they are not designed to break runners. These races are challenges that we personally want to do and succeed at ourselves. I mean, I have two failed attempts at completing the CGG 155. Failure never feels good but it is a great teacher and, if you learn from her well you will get back on your feet and not let her keep you down for long. Failure at some point plays a crucial part in making success meaningful.
I hope Lindsey and Soleil bounce back quickly, -regroup, come up with a new plan and get back out there and go after their big goals again.
Having ten folks running the CGG which is better known as the East Coast Greenway brings attention to another goal we have and that is to have a greenway run through Georgia where runners, hikers and cyclists feel safe. The way to do that is to have a separate path off of the road as much as possible. Please support the East Coast Greenway.
As for CGG 155 2020, we hope it gets bigger and more competitive. The Georgia Greenway is an ambitious project that can do so much good for the communities that the trail goes through. It promotes healthy living. It also promotes ultra running to the world and, hopefully, also economic opportunities for all of the counties impacted by the greenway.
It’ll probably be a month before we open the 2020 race for registration. We’ll keep you all posted if interested.
The DFL 24 Hour Ultra is a locally grown ultra running race held at the Old Roberd’s Dairy Farm during Earth Day weekend. The “DFL” in the name of the race stands for “Dairy Farm Love”. This race was born as a celebration of running in nature in one of Savannah’s most beautiful and, largest tracts of green space.
The privately owned, Roberd’s Dairy Farm, located at 2500 Tennessee Ave, Savannah, Ga. is literally a breath of fresh air in an ever burgeoning area of urban sprawl. The DF is adjacent to Bonaventure Cemetery and, is backed by marsh that is fed by small tributaries extending from the Wilmington River. The DF, like much of Savannah, is an area of great historical significance. It was one of the oldest and longest established dairy farms in Savannah, ceasing to operate in the early 1980’s. For movie lore lovers, a scene from Forest Gump was filmed at the Roberd’s Dairy Farm….young Jenny and Forest were filmed hanging out on one of the long reaching limbs of a live oak that is pretty close to being in the geographical center of the property. The tree is affectionately known as the Forest Gump Tree. Others know the tree as the Sentinel as it seems to keep watch over the DF. Whatever name you may know it as, this beautiful live oak has been a part of the Savannah fabric for several hundred years. If that tree could talk, imagine the things it could say!
Sadly, the ever changing coastal marshlands are impacting the health of the Forest Gump tree. The marsh is encroaching on the land where the Sentinel has stood firmly for centuries, breaching it’s long reaching roots with brackish water. Remnants of giants that succumbed to the onslaught of the ever encroaching marshland pockmark the 166 acres of the DF land. These giants are now skeletal shells of what they were when the DF was more pasture than marsh. The once proud Forest Gump tree seems to be in its last throes of life.
The Roberd’s Dairy Farm is a very special place in Savannah. The Pegasus Riding Academy, “a therapeutic riding program providing safe, professional and ethical equine assisted activities for individuals with physical, mental or emotional disabilities” calls the DF home. Peggi Noon is the wonderful soul that runs Pegasus Riding Academy. You always see her working at the DF, caring for the horses and the children that attend the academy.
Artist Matt Toole has a studio at the DF. His artwork is quite impressive! Check it out here.
The Roberd’s Dairy Farm is owned by Christie and Brian Redmon. Christie’s mother was one of the “Roberd’s” of the DF’s namesake. They are great stewards of the land, preserving nature and allowing responsible use of the land.
For information on the Old Roberd’s Dairy Farm (hosting an event there, history of the place…contact Star Kotowskie (manager of the DF) at 912.224.1596.
Today, the Roberd’s Dairy Farm is not just home to the beautiful horses of the Pegasus Riding Academy but to myriad wildlife species. Really, get out there and check out the DF. You’ll soon realize how special this place is.
It is at this place, the Roberd’s Dairy Farm, that the DFL 24 hour ultra has been held for the past three years. We hold this running event here because of the beauty of the land…because of the abundance of nature there…because of the wonderful people that own and protect this land…those that work and care for this land. It is a place where you can commune with nature.
As John Muir mused, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
So, it is at the Roberd’s Dairy Farm.
Come and celebrate nature with us April 20th! The DFL 24 Hour ultra offers the following distances for running:
12 and 24 hours of relay running. Relay teams may have two to eight runners.
Every registered runner will have a prayer flag made for them and hung along the start|finish line. After the race, we will transfer all of the prayer flags to the prayer flag project which is on a single track trail at the DF (which is part of the course). Blank prayer flags will be available for runners and spectators to fill out if they would like.
All registered runners will also get a tank top. Runners that complete their registered for timed race will get a finisher’s medal along with a personalized certificate with your name, race, date and how many miles you ran.
The top three male and females of each race will be awarded finisher medals, certificates and the award signifying the race they placed in.
Any runners that run 100-plus miles in 24 hours will get a beautiful buckle (see picture below). The runner that gets the most miles over 100 will get a buckle plus a signet ring with the DFL logo and their name and mileage inscribed on it.
For this year’s race we’re asking runners and/or general public to make a statement about the man-made perils of our environment with a piece of art you make and display and show at the race. Think about the trash that is clogging up our waterways and killing wildlife. Think about the mountains of plastic that we are creating and polluting our streets, neighborhoods and forests with. Think about deforestation, animal and plant extinctions exacerbated by man’s greed. Think about the chemicals we use in our yards, in our homes and on our crops. Think about the microplastics in our drinking water and found in the fish we eat. Consider the future we are handing off to our children and their children and, what we are prepared to do now in order to make the hand-off to the children one that gives them hope and a future worth striving for and looking forward to.
Consider all of this as you think about the art piece you want to make and display at the DFL 24 Hour ultra during Earth Day weekend.
Come out to the Dairy Farm that weekend and run or watch amazing athletes run the two mile course through forests, pastures and marshland for 3 hours, 6, 12 or 24. Enjoy nature at its finest at the Roberd’s Dairy Farm.
We’ll also have a slackline and bocce at the race for you to play around with. An night, we’ll whip out the projector and run movies on ultra running and extreme sports.
The Coastal Georgia Greenway 155 mile ultra (CGG 155) is just around the corner, -March 29th. This year’s race is going to be different. It’s going to be very special. For the first time, we’re going to have more than four runners on the course! This year, so far, we have eight registered runners. And, we have a new distance we’re offering, – the CGG 100. All of this is great and exciting but what is setting this year’s CGG ultra aside as special is one of the runners and what he is running for. Bren Tompkins is running this year’s CGG in remembrance of his late brother, Bo, who lost his fight with cancer last year, two weeks after the 2018 CGG 155.
Those of you that know Bren know that he is an amazing ultra runner. He is fast, focused and fierce when he races (the 3F’s). If you spend fifteen minutes with Bren you will learn quickly that he oozes with sarcasm and has a great sense of humor. Knowing Bren, you realize what a doting father he is and, what a compassionate man he is. I mean, every Sunday he goes out and feeds the homeless without calling any attention to himself which can be a very enticing thing to do in our world of cheap and shallow self-aggrandizing on social media.
Bren is a single dad always putting his children first and instilling strong values in them that are admirable, at the very least.
Bren is the real deal, – a man with a whole lot of heart and a strong conviction in being honest and honorable.
As stated earlier, Bren will run this year’s CGG 155 in memory of his late brother, Bo. He will also use this run to raise funds for cancer research via F*ck Cancer.
On a journey of 155 miles starting in Savannah, GA and culminating in St. Mary’s, on the border of Florida and Georgia, Bren will find himself with a lot of alone time in his head. Running far and long like this has a way of breaking you down to the core of who you are. No question about who you are goes unanswered on such a long, lonely quest. That’s one of the beauties of ultra running. You spend a lot of time in your own head, wrestling demons and, seeking new understandings of who you are and what you want your life to mean.
As Bren runs the CGG 155, we will be with him in solidarity on his quest to finish this race and in remembrance of his brother, Bo, and the family he left behind when cancer robbed him of his life. Please support Bren with your prayers and thoughts as he trudges mile after mile until reaching St. Mary’s, Ga, 155 miles from where he’s starting, in Savannah, GA.
As Bren runs the CGG 155 we will wear a black ribbon in remembrance of his brother and all of those that have been taken by cancer.
July 1st is the start of the Bully Challenge. What exactly is this? Its just a six month friendly competition of fitness.
On Sunday, July 1st, start keeping tabs of the reps, distances and times of the following exercises. And, every Sunday, jot down those numbers on the google drive spreadsheet linked here under the correct week: Bully Challenge
Rowing miles (kayak, rower machine, canoe)
SUP (stand up paddle board)
You do NOT have to do all of the exercises listed above. Pick the ones you want and go with those. The key of this challenge is to exercise and keep tabs of the exercises you choose to do and compare with the others in this challenge.
Every week whoever leads in any of the exercises listed will get a bully (Teddy Skull) added to his profile picture. Yes, we need a profile picture! Send that picture to me (Dan Hernandez firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ll add the bully to your profile and post it on the Run 4 a Reason Facebook Group Bully Challenge 2018 photo album.
The Bully Challenge officially ends December 8th. December 9th, we’ll announce the overall winner on Facebook. The overall winner will be the one that has acquired the most bully’s. We’ll also recognize all of the miles logged running, biking, swimming, rowing, walking, SUPing.
Also, if you’re a local (local to Savannah), you will be awarded a free pitcher of beer (or cider) and, a slice of pizza from Huccapoos or Mellow Mushroom (we cannot seem to decide on the pizza joint yet).
Everyone else that partakes of the challenges gets 1 point toward the RR Trail Race Series
Even if you live far away you may still partake of the challenge (you just don’t get the beer or pizza…sorry). You’ll get the accolades, though, especially, if you win. 🙂
You are responsible for entering your personal data into the google spreadsheet linked above. We are all under the honor system…so, don’t cheat! And, don’t mess with anyone’s results. Capiche?
If you have a question, just shoot me an email or message. Again, my email: email@example.com
Happy killing it out there!
for Situps exercise, you may do crunches, bicycle kicks, whathaveyou. For bicycle kicks, one set of both legs equals 1 rep! Does that make sense? Its not, that you do one side and count 1 and then the other side and count 2. One set of both sides of the bike kick is one rep.
for lunges, a rep of the right leg and, the left leg equals 1 rep! You do not count each leg you lunge as a rep…a set of both legs equals 1 rep.
The same thing as lunges applies to mountain climbers. a set of both legs counts as one rep.
you may do planks however you like and still count down the seconds and minutes. There is not just one way to plank.
for pull ups, you may do chin ups instead…whatever works for you. If you cannot do a pull up but want to, start off with negatives and slowly let yourself down. Do approximately 8-10 negative pull ups every time you go at it. Eventually, you will be able to pull yourself up.
you may apply your steps that you do through out the day in the “walking miles” entry on the spreadsheet. Here is a link to a Steps to Miles Calculator
Biking is the same as the walking miles. If you bike to work, count those miles. Your training miles on the road or stationary, – count those miles.
through out the six months we’ll will have challenges to keep us motivated and striving for more. These challenges will include one or several of the list of exercises listed at the top of this page. If you meet any of the challenges you will get a special bully added to your profile picture.
Here are some of the challenges to keep in mind and to begin when you’re hungry for it…
200 mile run in 1 month. shoot for 200 miles in 30 days.
50,000 meter rowing in 30 days.
5000 push ups in 30 days
1000 burpees in 30 days
800 miles cycling in 30 days
5000 squats in 30 days
30 miles swimming in 30 days
500 minutes of planks in 30 days
500 pull ups in 30 days
150 miles of walking in 30 days
5000 lunges in 30 days
I will have some cool stickers made for each of the aforementioned challenges but I will have to charge a $5 fee for each sticker. You do not have to buy challenge stickers but if you want one you will have to pay for it. That cool?
Heat related maladies are no joke, especially when exercising down here in the South. This past Friday I was reminded how quickly your body can go from running strong to running on empty and then, crash.
Early Friday morning the Rough Runners crew and I ran the Daufuskie Island half marathon course. When we started the run the temperature was about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. By the end of the run, the temp was in the upper 80’s.
After the 13.1 mile run, we then began to ride the course on bikes. A few miles into the ride my back stiffened greatly, making it very difficult for me to peddle without great discomfort. I got off my bike and stretched out on the ground several times. That felt better but, several minutes later my back was so stiff and tight I could hardly stand it. I decided to call it quits and peddle back to the Haig Point dock.
At the dock, I just was not feeling well. My girlfriend handed me a cold powerade and told me to drink it. Reluctantly, I did. Soon after that, though, I began to feel very ill. I felt nausea. Suddenly, the worst cramp I’ve ever experienced hit my right calf forcing me to grit my teeth and pray the pain would go away. After about twenty seconds the calf muscle loosened up but my nausea progressively grew worse. I looked up at Kerry and she began to blur out as if I were turning the focus on a camera in the wrong direction. Her face then began to streak before my eyes and I went down on my knees and began to dry heave. Fortunately, Kerry, a registered nurse, got me to sit back and quickly began to force feed me a hammer gel, followed by water. She made me drink more powerade. She helped me to my feet and guided me to the ferry where I then laid on the floor because I didn’t have the strength to stay up on my feet. The boat captain brought over some ice cold water bottles and ice. Kerry placed the ice on the back of my head where it meets the neck. She placed the two cold water bottles under my arms, in my armpits and, continued to force feed my hammer gels and water. While this was all happening, Jason took pictures to use as blackmail later.
Finally, though, I began to come to. Twenty minutes later, we pulled onto mainland on Hilton Head and I was able to walk off the ferry on my own, feeling severely spent.
The rest of the day, I remained completely spent. I felt as if all of the energy had been sucked out of my body. We hit a Mexican restaurant where I was revived somewhat more by eating their salty chips and salsa. When I got home, I showered and went to bed and, quickly fell asleep. The rest of the weekend, I remained very weak and lethargic.
Heat related maladies can come on quickly and become dangerous just as fast. You may think that you are hydrating well but always question yourself. Personally, I thought I was hydrating well. I was taking a combination of endurolytes and, anti-fatigue pills, one of each every hour during the run and bike and, taking sips from my water bottle regularly.
During the run, I refilled my 20 ounce water bottle twice and, drank a powerade at the convenient store in Freeport (which is along the course). Before we started riding I chugged down almost a quart of water and refilled my twenty ounce bottle.
My two running and biking mates (Kerry and Jason) didn’t experience what I did and they were hydrating as much as I was. No one person is the same, though.
I tend to sweat more than the average adventure seeker, especially as the temperature rises. So, I deplete my sodium and potassium faster than most people doing the same level of activity. Take for instance, that by the time we hit the 2.4 mile mark, Jason and Kerry’s shirts were halfway soaked from sweat, -where I looked like I had jumped into the ocean in my running clothes.
Drinking water is important but maintaining a healthy level of sodium and potassium intake as I continue to hydrate is equally important. My intake balance between water and sodium and potassium was off obviously and, drinking more water began to make me feel gravely ill.
Please take note from my dreadful experience this past Friday and hydrate well and replenish your electrolytes accordingly while exercising on hot days in the South. The mishap I suffered could of been much worse than it was. I was fortunate enough to have a nurse on hand to help me get through this heat related malady before serious damage occurred.
Keep your training going but be careful out there! Learn how your body reacts to heat and train smart.
Wishing you many happy miles of training this summer!