Amy’s Pre-Race Report, Crazy Enough for Hellgate:
Hellgate calls itself a 100K, although everyone except Horton, seem willing to admit that it’s actually 66 miles. Starting at midnight (or rather 12:01 a.m. on Saturday) in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia the second Friday of December, it almost guarantees to be a suffer-fest and a race where no 100K PR will ever be set. To celebrate my 5 year anniversary as an ultrarunner, I’m finally just crazy enough to see for myself what it is about Hellgate that causes everyone to complain so, yet return to the source of the agony, again and again. Whether I’m tough enough to endure Hellgate is a question yet to be answered. Oregon has made me a bit soft, I’m afraid. – She’s certainly proved her strength!
Words from other runners:
It has been said that the Hellgate 100K is a “special” race, for a number of reasons. It was certainly a “special” race for me this year. And here’s why . . As you may know, I’ve dedicated this past fall to “redemption” in races that I’ve failed in falls past. First The Ring, where I still didn’t finish, but made it further than my previous attempt.
It was challenging, beautiful, nicely marked, and nicely groomed (well, for what was able to be groomed). Where I went wrong (in case you were wondering) – sleep. I have never tried to run more than a couple miles on a treadmill after staying up all day (the few lack-luster naps at Camp Bethel didn’t do much for me).
No matter how you think about it, it’s always a gamble…any race…any time…something can take you out of the game. For me, I know my weaknesses, all night, sleep deprivation, and always my mind. From the beginning of the Beast, right at Holiday Lake, I started picking everyone’s brains about being up 2 nights at GS100 and used all I could of those techniques at Hellgate. I carried a big can of Red Bull in my pack, I had a mantra for the dark hours, and one for the daylight hours. Luckily, as I had started 2 Hellgates, the last 2 years, I knew what to expect in starting the race, so I was relaxed. I knew what to pack, I was however coached in how much time to think about changing before actually changing, haha. It is a bit of a wait from the end of the prerace briefing until it’s time to drive to the start.
I’m sitting here on sunday afternoon with fat, blistered feet, sore achilles in both legs, wondering what would be the best way to describe this amazing journey I was fortunate enough to go on. It’s really almost a surreal experience to be able to sit here and say “I’m a hellgate finisher.”. Hellgate 100k in my mind was always the ZENITH of any of the ultras on the east coast. It’s where VERY TOUGH ultrarunners test their metal against the elements, rocky leaf covered trails and 14,000ft of vertical climbing over 66.6 miles.