Most times we get a description of one of our member’s long-term running journey in this section. This month I’m including a write-up I received from Nicole Berglund on her recent participation in a 500k. Yes, that’s not a typo. 500k. If this doesn’t motivate you to run a 5k (or 10k or 21k or 42k or….) then I don’t know what will. Many of you will not have run into Nicole at one of the local races. And, that’s because Nicole likes races much longer in time and distance than many of us (most of us, in fact). Anyway, Nicole’s story about her recent participation in the Last Annual Vol State 500k is sure to tell you something about her. So, it is a member profile.
Here’s Nicole’s story:
Every year for the last 10 years starting on the first Thursday of July and ending in 10 days from that 120 runners pay $1 and get on a ferry boat in Hickman Kentucky. They take that ferry boat to Dorena Missouri. They get off the boat. At some time after, the race director lights a cigarette to signal the start of the race. The runners get on the ferry again and pay $1 and head for Hickman Kentucky where they get off together. At that point they are all tied for first place. They start the 500k (314 mile) journey to Castle Rock Georgia. Twenty runners are crewed and have a support vehicle with them. They may get in the vehicle at any time as long as it’s parked. They can put their feet up. They can sleep. But, they can never drive in a moving vehicle. Their crew is allowed to go get them anything their heart desires. The remaining one hundred runners, as opposed to being crewed, make their way as screwed. That means they are responsible for getting their own food, drink and places to rest. The screwed runners carry everything on their back. Being a screwed runner, I carried 3 pounds of gear and I carried a minimum of 66 ounces of water. Two 33 ounce smart water bottles are perfect and frequently I had many other bottles of water on me. They were tucked in my vest. I relied on road angels who are friends driving by or other people. They might leave a cooler out on the side of the road with water or sometimes fruit or snacks when stores would be closed and I was traveling at night. I was responsible for checking in my location twice a day at 7:30 AM and 7:30 PM. I would have to report what mile I was at. I averaged 39 1/2 miles a day. Some of my best running was in the middle of the night, before the morning check in. Much of my traveling during the day was 3 miles an hour walking/power hiking with an umbrella and a long sleeve button down white Columbia shirt to protect myself from the sun. I also used a straw hat with a wide brim. I wore that or carried it every day for the 8 days.
Some nights I slept on a pool float under a gazebo that was left as a rest station for us. Sometimes I slept on the concrete at a gas station that had closed for the night. I laid my tarp down and hid by the pumps so I was safe. I was sleep deprived and sometimes hungry. I ran through hurricane Barry and 4″ of water one morning to make it to check in where I wanted to be. I had gotten up at 2 am from a short hotel stay and opened the door and saw the deluge and put my poncho on grabbed my umbrella and started out for the goal for that morning. and I made it. Some days I was left frying on the shoulder of a 4 lane divided highway in over 100 degree blazing sun. Sometimes the shoulder I ran on wasn’t there. I ran next to cars coming at me morning, noon and night. I ran on the rumble strips. And I finished. I made it down a 3-mile 7% grade mountain in the dark. I made it up the other side of the valley also 3 miles and 7% grade in the blazing sun to run through corn fields on a farm and come out in a forest that was 500 feet up on a cliff overlooking the Tennessee river valley. The race director’s wife walked me out to the edge where I touched the special rock which was the finish. picture attached of that finish view.
I finished in 8 days 5 hours 9 minutes and 15 seconds. Not bad for a first year / rookie. There were people still finishing Saturday night when I was home in Houston.
Below is a picture of my American flag which I wore on my vest which was my race bib unifying me with the other runners and of my patch and woodalian which are my finisher tokens. Also pictured is the change I picked up during the run. I like to keep my road money as a memento.