Monday, December 8, 2008

Hellgate!

Hellgate's ridgeline near Natural Bridge, VA


On Friday I will venture south to Fincastle and Camp Bethel, the finish line of the infamous Hellgate 100K. Once there I will nab a quiet bunk bed location for napping, catch up with other Hellgate devotees, eat a yummy pasta dinner (but not too much), and listen to Horton as he gives his Hellgate pep-talk/warning/scary story pre-race speech. I will look around the room and see fear and dread in the eyes of the newbies and grins and smirks on the mouths of the old-timers. I will overhear the same conversations between runners and crew: Shorts or tights? Screws or Yaktrax? Hand-helds or hydration pack? Headlamp, hand-held light, or both?

I love Hellgate.

On paper, Hellgate looks ridiculous. Why would any runner want to run 100K in December in Virginia, starting at midnight? Horton started the race in 2002 and it has filled up every year, earlier and earlier. The first year I ran, in 2005, the course was covered in ice and snow, and yet I have come back every year since. Race night falls near my birthday, so I always celebrate the passing year's events in my head while running along the Glenwood Horse Trail in the dead of night. By the time the sun comes up, I am finished thinking about the past and ready for the challenge and the unknown of the future. I have written before that I love the way we run into the light at Hellgate---an optimistic view that is very comforting and very symbolic for me: It is why I run ultras and how I like to live my life.

Am I ready for Hellgate?

Heck yes! I feel fully recovered from Grindstone and have had a few weeks of awesome training runs---a course PR on the toughest 5K course in Charlottesville a few weeks ago and a strong final training run in the SNP last weekend give me reason to think that if I run my race, eat and drink well, keep my head on, and if the weather cooperates, I could break my PR on this course, 15:16, set in 2006. That's my goal, at least...but who knows what the weather will bring Hellgate 2008? The adventure is in finding out.

10 comments:

running etc said...

Good luck, Soph. Something tells me that the Hellgate course is in BIG trouble from you this time around! :)

BGill said...

Kick some tail out there, Sophie! We'll be rooting you on from FatAss.

Rick Gray said...

Cheers to Hellgate 2008, with all of its unknowns, uncertainties and Horton's pre-race speech. A PR is barking at your door! Good luck and us other Hellgaters will see you Friday at Camp Bethel. Rick

Sophie Speidel said...

Thanks guys! Rick, let's hang together and see a PR bark at your door too!

Have fun at Gluteus Maximus this year, fellas. We are having new VHTRCF long-sleeve Mountain Hardware shirts printed (as I write this) and they will be on sale at Hellgate and at GM so bring your $$. Think of it as a Christmas present to yourself. Gentry-- you NEED one of these.

Keep sending the good kharma Friday night/Saturday day!

Kim said...

Good luck Sophie! your blog makes me want to actually attempt Hellgate one of these years!

Bedrock said...

Good luck Sophie. Look forward to the report.

I am a runner. "We are what we repeatedly do" said...

I want to wish you a happy Birthday and good luck at the horrific event hellgate is!!!! End the superb 2008 with another good one bud.

annette bednosky said...

Go,Sophie Go!
I wish you lots of fun, smartness,fastness and to continue the ridulousness of this amazing event! I'll be in NW NC Friday and Saturday-yet part of my spirit will be with you and the other Hellgate Runners! Go kick booty!

Tonya said...

Sophie! Have fun, run fast and safe, don't freeze your eyeballs or break your elbow! I sure wish I could be there with all of my Virginia ultra friends...you guys started it all for me and I will love you always for it. Say Hi to everyone for me and have a piece of birthday cake in my honor!

Logan Spangler said...

Mrs. Speidel,
I can see where this race gets its name. Conditioning the body to run 100k sounds like a daunting task- and in the freezing cold too!! I'm in great lifting shape, but not running shape, which I'd like to get better in-do you have any recommendations for me as far as a jumpstart program?