The spectacular sunrise as we drove to the start of the run.
Today I drove to the end of the world. Or, more accurately, World’s End. In an effort to fulfill my goal of pushing outside my comfort zone, I signed up for the Worlds End 50K this May, and today I made the 3-hour trip north with two friends to attend a course preview run that they were hosting. When we arrived, both the impressive mountains and the 23-degree temperature were a bit intimidating, but we organized our hydration packs and set out to join the impressive group that had assembled for the day.
The beautiful view at the start of the run.
After a quick briefing on the course, we were off. We ran a couple of easy minutes along the road, and then turned off onto the trail. That is where “easy” promptly ended, to be replaced by climbing. Lots of climbing. Up a steep, somewhat icy slope. I resisted the urge to look behind me and just focused on the feet of the runner in front of me. With quads and lungs already burning, we finally made it to the top, where the field quickly spread out.
The next challenge that we encountered was the interesting combination of fallen leaves and ice, which created many hidden “pockets” that would surprisingly swallow your foot. After breaking through the sheet of leaves and almost turning my ankle several times in quick succession, I quickly learned what to look for, and how to slow down to respect the terrain.
The frozen temps were not entirely a negative thing, however. We crossed numerous small creeks through the day, and we were always fascinated to discover that while the top of the creek was frozen solid, we could often see air bubble or even running water underneath. It was a beautiful sight that we weren’t really able to capture adequately in photos.
In fact, we took many photos of the day, but in looking back at all of them, none of them fully captured the beauty of this course. Even in January, with the bare trees, the course was amazingly beautiful. It was one of the things that motivated me to sign up for this race in the first place, and I can’t wait to see how it all looks when we return for the race in May.
One of the best things about the trail running community is how open everyone is to building connections out on the trails. We quickly partnered up with another runner named Dan, who was happy to have some company along the way. We traded many race stories throughout the day, and all four of us worked together to make sure we didn’t veer off course. This task became much easier halfway through the run, when we met up with Jeff, one of the race directors, at the simple water stop. He kindly stayed with us for the remainder of the trip, sharing his thoughts on many of the races in the area, and kindly pointing out whenever we missed a crucial turn.
We finished the run with sore legs, but full and happy hearts, eager to return for the full race in May.