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The Ultra Tribe – Rocky Raccoon Moments

As I hung out at the Rocky Raccoon Trail Run tweeting the spicy tread action of the 100 mile scamper I couldn’t help but observe the beauty and at times, the beast of this sport.

My hands-free tweet friendly shelter from the morning rain at Park Road Aid Station.

Here are a few of my strongest observations from throughout the day.

  • Rain? OK, let’s run! – While an easy out to call it a weekend, so many took that first stride as sheets of rain fell from the skies. The fast-footed could have decided to save themselves for the next race. Nope, they were all there ready to lead the splash fest.
  • The Giant Face – Out at the Park Road, a family had a giant, full color cutout of the runner they were supporting. The mug shot had to be four feet high by four feet wide…and they had two of them. As their runner made this way across the road, they were screaming and the giant heads were bobbin’.
  • A Family Affair – I was talking to an older gentleman that was from Wisconsin and was crewing for his son. You could tell the father was into it and was ready to do whatever he could to help his son get to the finish. What a unique and bonding experience. You could tell the father felt as if he was running with his son.
  • Crowd Crazies – The Park Road Aid Station road crossing had a large group of family, friends, and supporters that made a channel for runners to cross that road…and they yelled, squealed, and supported every runner that came out of the woods. It was a blast of energy that I felt 20 yards behind them. As the afternoon progressed, the louder they got.
  • Let Me Tape that For You. – A guy inspecting and taping another runner’s foot after 60 miles of running.
  • Scream and Dance – A 50 mile female crossed the finish line and once she saw her friends, they all started screaming and hugging. Another gentleman started dancing off a special number as the groovin’ tunes supported his dance across the 50 mile finish.
  • Hal “Fly-Guy” Koerner – As the race progresses, Hal’s hat/visor begins to increasingly lean and tilt in such a way that it appears he is only able to see the trail with one eye…and somehow he makes it look cool…and not take a digger!
  • Karl “the Professional” – You couldn’t help but see it as Karl Meltzer flew through the course that he radiates personal excellence. The dude toes the line ready to give his very best.
  • High Energy Aid Stations – From sun-up to sun-down to sun-up again, the aid station folk brought their A-game! People helping people. What a concept…and it works, just ask the 700+ runners!
  • Remove the Chip – One 100 mile runner came walking straight legged across the Dog Wood timing map and immediately started working to rip off the timing chip (to drop) as friends tried to stop him. He dropped.
  • Pain at mile 20 – Watching runners leaving the Dog Wood Aid Station at mile 20 with discomfort already in their eyes.
  • Joe P. Sits – During the nighttime hours on Saturday night as I was waiting for Sabrina Moran (100 mile female winner) to finish her last loop, I observed RD Joe Prusaitis sitting in a chair at the finish area eating some kettle chips out of the bulk-size bag. This was likely the first time he sat since early in the week.
  • The 3:00 Pacer – Yep, I am going to help him/her finish. I  will be pacing at 3:00. PM? Nope, AM!
  • Our Elites – Pretty cool to see Ian hanging out at the finish waiting for the top runners to come in after dropping out of the event in the middle of the afternoon. He definitely could have disappeared – he didn’t!
  • Oswaldo the Photographer – Oswaldo Lopez finished third in the 100. This guy won the Badwater Ultramarathon in 2011 so this dude’s a badass. Hal Koerner (100 mile winner) and Ian Sharman (last year’s 100 mile winner) are sitting in chairs post-race under the tents and I see Oswaldo taking a picture of one of his crew with his arms around Hal and Ian. I couldn’t help but smile and think, what a cool sport we have.

What a sport!

What a tribe!

What are some of your strongest memories from the Rocky Raccoon weekend?

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

8 Responses to “The Ultra Tribe – Rocky Raccoon Moments”

  1. on 08 Feb 2012 at 7:05 pm Tim Smith

    – Speaking of elites & top runners hanging out…Neal Lucas, who could have surely gone top 10 at 100%, was at DamnNation cheering people on at like 2am or something crazy as I came through pacing my runner.

    – Davy Crockett was puking early on and having a generally terrible day from what I saw/heard. Then, when my runner was around mile 95, we saw a man running toward us starting his last loop. It was Davy, singing way loud and apparently having a blast now.

    – Hearing my runner not only talking about his next 100, but wanting to do the Grand Slam as we were only around 70 miles in was awesome. What a champ.

  2. on 08 Feb 2012 at 8:36 pm james @reddirtrunner

    Dogwood, mile 80… my friend, Ryan Holler, pacing for first time ultra runner, Tim Harrington, says Tim struggled on loop 4, only jogging when prodded. After a break at the turnaround, Ryan looks away for a moment. When he turns back Tim is running out for the final loop. Ryan yells, “Look at you go!” Tim hollers back, “I’m ready to get this $h*+ over with!”
    He did, like a champ.

  3. on 09 Feb 2012 at 9:20 am David Hanenburg

    Tim and James – Thanks for sharing guys!

    It was a bummer to see Neal struggling. Look forward to watching him get back after it!

    Grand Slam talk at mile 70 – Amazing!

    James, I am sure that quote was used repeatedly throughout the nighttime and morning hours. 🙂

  4. on 09 Feb 2012 at 12:38 pm olga

    David, I just want to thank you so much for all the tweets you provided over the weekend. Without you missing Rocky would have been a pure disaster (bad enough I wasn’t there). Thanks, man.

  5. on 10 Feb 2012 at 4:24 pm David Hanenburg

    Thanks Olga! Happy healing to you!

  6. on 13 Feb 2012 at 2:55 pm Lisa

    I loved this! It makes me antsy to run my first 100 in October. I love ultra runners. They are the best! Thank you for your coverage!

  7. on 13 Feb 2012 at 3:53 pm Suann

    When I saw you at Park Road and told you it wasn’t my day and you told me you believed in me! That kept me going! There was move love and cheering and support at Rocky than many other marathons I have been at.

  8. on 14 Feb 2012 at 9:51 am David Hanenburg

    Thanks so much Lisa! All the best in your upcoming 100 mile journey. Look forward to hearing about it!

    Suann – There was a special vibe out at Huntsville for sure! “It wasn’t my day” is a common thought nearly every ultra runner experiences especially in the 50 mile and great distances. Highs and lows are often simply part of the experience. The beauty of the distance is that there is time to regroup and climb your way out of that low and when you do, you learn a little bit more about yourself than when you started this adventure. Kind of cool!