When you first start this run everything looks innocent enough. Beautiful Pennsylvania woods in the fall. What could be more pleasant?
Never believe the brochures. This is an evil course. Freddy Krueger would not run this thing.
My ever patient running partner, Baba the Freak, turned to check on me during the very perilous switch back portion of the run and was a bit dismayed to find me crawling on my hands and knees to make my way around the edge of the drop-off.
My will to live was battling heavily with my desire to curl into a ball and hibernate, hoping somewhat unrealistically that I would wake up somewhere safe and comfy.
The Cannibal fared much better. The demons didn't start calling him until night fell. Good thing he had a pacer. Oh wait, his pacer was the first to puke. Note to the Cannibal, need to pick your pacers more wisely.
But actually, if it wasn't for Chuck (the Cannibal's pacer) pulling him out of the woods after that second loop, Clyde might still be in there today, storming through the woods naked, lighting his way with a 2009 race bib aflame in his hand.
This course had many interesting (nut job insanity) aspects about it. Running steep downhills along moss covered, slippery rocks kept my adrenalin flowing. No need for caffeine today. And I don't even want to talk about the narrow wooden bridges sans guard rails.
Running (crawling on all fours, clinging to a tree for dear life) along the rim made you wonder if this would be your last run, but even scarier was when you heard phantom whispering in the forest and began to see sightings of Cheshire Chuck in the trees.
But the cruelest aspect of all was section four. Only eight miles to go - the last two on the road in a civilized world! Piece of cake. You were almost done.
Just when you were convinced that you would be emerging from the mountain soon, the pink and silver markers began leading you back upwards. You knew that "down" led you to the road. You wanted "down". "Down" meant "out", so clearly, "up" was bad. But the markers didn't give a damn how tired and mentally crazed you were. Up, up they went.
Once in awhile they would lead you downwards to make you think you were ending your journey, but just as the sound of the Drake Oil Well grew louder, the flags would lead you back up into the woods again, away from the finish line. The pounding sounds of the well growing ever fainter as you wondered if this race would ever end.
As for Roger, he went back into Hell three times! He is clearly a contender for Nut Job Of The Year. How do you go back in there in the dark for a third time?!!! You know what is waiting for you in there. Just how insane are you??!!
And let's not forget about the race director of Oil Creek. Tom Jennings is a great race director, probably one of the best out there. He shook hands with each and every finisher and personally handed them their wonderfully crafted (made in the USA!) belt buckles as you crossed the finish line.
But I can't help but wonder. What kind of a twisted mind would design a cruel course like this? Great guy, or sick-humored ghost from the historic oil mine past? He may not be of this world. Something to check out in the future.
Anyway, loved the challenge in a "terrified" sort of way. Can't wait to see what kind of stupid thing the nut jobs will sign up for next year.
Thanks for the unforgettable adventure, Nut Jobs,
Sheri the Mountain Mule
Here are a few "before the mountain" pictures.
P.S. - Before or after the Oil Creek 100 Trail Runs, be sure to stop at the Blue Canoe for a great micro beer!