If You Never Tri, You'll Never Know!

Running in the Dark for Rhino's

I know, it's a mess, but we were running!
Photo Courtesy of Nick Foto Jr.
Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Hutto
Midnight marked the start of the 1st Annual Rhino Run in Mississippi. If you wanna know WHY we were running, read THIS

This post is about running in the dark... kinda...
So I hit the trail around 3pm to get it ready for the run. With 5k, 15k, and 20k distances, I wanted a cone and chemlight at every 1/2 mile and a water stop at the 5k and 15k turnaround. This part of the trail is approximately 5.5 miles. After realizing, hey, you don't have a mountain bike Lisa I grabbed my road bike and thought, eh, this'll work, it's not too technical. What the HELL was I thinking!?

Entering at Airey Tower Road I set out to set up the 5k route. I only need to bike 1.55 miles. I loaded up 3 cones and a turnaround on my aero bars. Too easy! Umm, NO! This might not be a technical trail, but it's not road bike friendly either! It took me 30 minutes to bike the 3 miles. Good grief. No way am I going back in for the 15k. However, I WILL go to the Hwy 49 trail head and do the same. So I loaded up the car, drove 30 minutes to the other side, loaded up 6 cones this time and 2 turn arounds with the goal of getting the 15k AND 20k set up. Holy cow, this side is rougher than the other! I only flipped over my handlebars once but I made it 1.5 miles in and out again...in 40 minutes this time. Okay so now the front half is set up and the back half is set up but there's a 2 mile chunk of dark trail with no cones in between. I'm sorry 15k'ers...

Back on the other side, the 20k'ers had to cross the street and finish their distance on the east side of Airey trailhead. Sigh, another 2'ish miles off roading on the road bike... Cones on aero bars, I'm off. 30 minutes later, mission complete and I only flipped over my handlebars one more time. Only.

Got everything set up and now it's time to wait. Not only until dark, but until midnight. Who's idea was this? My friends show up to lend some helping hands along with the K9 Ranger guy ~who carries a gun by the way! He was cool but made it uber clear that no alcohol was permitted on the campgrounds AND Stone County is a dry county. Well that just ruined our after party... Red (blue) Solo Cups anyone !!??

Photo Courtesy of Amanda Hudson
It's finally nearing race time and racers start showing up and checking in. I'm getting so excited and nervous. It is REALLY dark out here... 
We got a few more same day registrations for a total of about 81 racers running for the Rhino's. Head over to the finish line and HERE WE GO...

It was so super cool watching everyone take off with their headlamps dancing around. I have to admit I was filled with anxiety, Please God, don't let anyone get hurt, get lost, or die...

Around 20 minutes we see a light bouncing its way to us. YAY, our first finisher! My bestest friend, David (who by the way forgot his running shoes on the boat so opted for a $17 pair of track spikes from Academy, ha ha ha!!). More and more fast runners started piling in, Zach and Blake and Nick and John and first female, Jennifer. In no time, 15k racers started coming in too and 20k racers were headed across the other side of the trail. Our overall 15k male, Derek, came in at 1 hour and 9 minutes. Female 15k winner, Emily, came in at 1:37. GREAT times for a pitch dark trail run!! Deven came in overall 20k male at 1 hour and 38 minutes. INCREDIBLE! Our female 20k winner, Ashleigh, was at 1 hour and 54 minutes. Great work racers!! I so enjoyed every single racer at the finish line. I was relieved that they finished, giggled at their falls, and awarded them their first ever Rhino Run medal. Our very last two ladies came in just under 3 hours. 3am.  

By this time, my amazing friends had cleaned up the equipment and registration area. I love them ~J.G. and Tish are two of my BEST friends in the whole world. Don't know what I'd do without them **hearts**. I think I should cook them dinner again. And finish all this beer from Lazy Magnolia. Yes, a Rhino Run party...that's exactly what we need!!

I can't even imagine having ran that trail in the dark. Even in the light I flipped over my handlebars and it was kinda creepy. I was talking to myself, leery of bears and snakes and mountain lions?? hell, I don't know!?!, singing out loud... But at night!? It was PITCH DARK out there! So racers, I'm IMPRESSED! You accomplished something HUGE for a HUGE cause!! Will it happen again? FOR SURE! We raised a little bit of money for SA and I want to raise a LOT more. I bet you'll love this trail in the daylight too...

BIG thank you's to everyone who played. I'm so happy to have met Sian and Sheena in South Africa and got to be a part of this effort to save the rhino's. It certainly won't stop here. Lots of sponsors for our event too, Run-N-Tri Company, Elite Screenprinting, Lazy Magnolia, Dominos, Kentwood Water, Crown Awards, and Academy. I appreciate all your support and generosity. A very successful event with only one complaint ~it went in the bucket (you'll get it if you were there...).
THANK YOU AGAIN!! OH, and p.s. our event made International news. FAMOUS!

Battle Scars (I'm still collecting pictures from the racers. It's not funny, but kinda funny. Lots of spills out there. I told them to be careful!!):