The 2019 Cruel Jewel 100 (actually 106 miles) went of about smoothly as running any 100 every could. I never considered quitting, didn't get caught in any severe overnight thunderstorms on mountain ridges, didn't have trouble making myself leaving aid stations, managed to stay hydrated using "Base Salt" and an occasional Gatorade. I stayed fueled by eating, as usual, a little of everything in sight! Not really but at every aid station I ate a 1/4 or 1/2 sandwich, orange, occasional banana, candy, quesadilla and even GU's. (Not too many of those.) I Even purchased a 1/2 barbecue sandwich from a little cafe right across the road from the old iron bridge over the Toccoa Bridge near Blue Ridge, GA. They had a little stand set up outside the restaurant, right on the course selling food to runners in CJ and Mtn Bike riders involved in some type of race. Oh, I did do something totally new this year. I carried several of the Starbucks Instant Coffee sticks with me. Since all aid stations have hot water at night, I was never without coffee.
In fact, there is really nothing to write about. I finished in 44 hours and 15 minutes, 40 minutes faster than last year and felt great. (That's great by 100 mile run standards!) I actually ran much of the last 6 miles "as long as it was flat or downhill." I didn't even have any hallucinations like I did last year. Well, I one little issue that's kind of funny. I went into the Fire Pit Aid Station at Mile 98 and saw a friend, Peter S. (I haven't asked if I can use his name) and had a short conversation about his race. He was wearing the 100 mile finisher buckle. He told me finished in 33 hours which is a very fast time for CJ100. The race cutoff is 48 Hours. I was amazed he had offered to go up to Fire Pit and help after finishing. I grabbed a sandwich and a cup of coke and sat down for a minute. I got back up to grab a few things to take on the final 8 miles and walked over to thank Peter for helping. Peter wasn't there! I have no idea who the guy I had been talking to was. He really didn't even look like Peter. Now, it was about 4:30 AM Saturday Night (The race started Friday at Noon. This is the second night without sleep.) and the lights were not very bright. (Excuse!)
I though it might be fun to create a photographic illustration of the race. It's almost impossible to express in words what runners go through during a 100. Cruel Jewel is one of the hardest 100 in the US with over 33,000 feet of elevation gain. It's like climbing straight up for 6.25 miles. Sometimes faces show reality better than words.
A good friend, excellent photographer and fellow Ultrarunner, Gordon Harvey took over 1000 photos of runners at the race. I selected some to post below. They begin before the start at Vogel State Park and go all the way to the finish with those finishing between about 44 to 46 hours back at Vogel. They follow the run through the crew accessible aid stations and the turnaround at Camp Morganton and back to the end. Remember, the faces tell the story. Most of the photos I selected were of those runners moving at perhaps one or two faster or slower than a 44 hour pace.
Waiting for the Start. Everyone had too much nervous energy but you know you need to sit.
The Start - It's finally 12 Noon and we are off!
Skeenah Gap Aid Station, Mile 21 - Everyone is looking strong.
Wilscot Gap Aid Station - Mile 26. The run from Skeenah to Wilscot is one of the toughest 5 miles you will find in any race. The entire section is on the "Dragon's Spine." (Big difference in the faces from Skeenah, above to Wilscot, below.)
Camp Morganton - The Turnaround at 50 Miles. It feels like the halfway point but you know it's not. Everyone is a little battered after the first night of the CJ 106.
Stanley Gap Aid Station - Mile 69. The next 5.4 miles is the easiest in the race.
Wilscot Gap - Mile 81. This is where it get serious. Those of us in these photos had been on the trail for 31 hours (except pacers and 50 milers.) It's almost dark and we are headed up to the "Spine of the Dragon," AGAIN! Everyone is very tired, except pacers and 50 milers! (Did I already mention that?)
Runners finishing in 44 up to about 46 Hours.