Epic is the term that mountain climbers use when they talk about a climb that went wrong. The party got lost, gear was dropped, days being snowbound in a tent, destroyed camps, or even death. This year’s Twin Mountain Trudge turned into an epic day for me and all involved in the race. Just like on a good climbing day everything starts out fine and then slowly the situation begins to deteriorate. Some epic tales have a good ending while others do not. When things start to go bad and the situation begins to become dire, will you be ready to survive?
I am writing about my epic Twin Mountain Trudge because I want to share my experience with you so you can also be prepared for when things turn epic. I am very experienced in mountaineering, back country adventures, and ultra racing. Through the years I have never had any of my adventures turn epic, but I am always prepared just in case they do. And I sure did not think that the Twin Mountain Trudge would have turned into my first Epic adventure.
This was my second year running the Twin Mountain Trudge. The Twin Mountain Trudge has an 11 mile race and a 22 mile race which is two of the 11 mile laps. Here is a quote from Alec Muthig’s email about this year’s race: “The conditions this year could very well prove to be the worst we’ve seen for this race . . . I NEED to stress that this is an “adventure” event and not a typical trail run. You will need to try to be self sufficient. We will have a minimal aid station on the course, but you should carry enough for a long, tough outing. My guess is that the fastest single loop will be around 2.5 hours, with others being out for over 5 hours… yes, for the single loop. Please be prepared to be out that long and please plan on emergency situations. If you get injured it will be quite a bit of time before we can get in and pull you out on a sled. Will you be able to not go hypothermic in the time it takes us to get to you? While only 11-12 miles, this is truly a backcountry adventure. Please be prepared.”
As you can see I was well prepared and mentally and physically ready to start The Trudge. From last year’s Trudge I found that many of the 22 mile runners would start to really slow down on the second lap. My strategy was that the adventure really doesn’t start until the second lap and I would use the first lap to keep fueled and stay hydrated. I set my watch to go off every 30 minutes to remind me to eat a few mouthfuls of food. Then on the hour I would take two salt tablets (they are not just for running in the heat). Plus, as I mentioned earlier I wanted to drink the entire 80 ounces of fluid that I carried.
My first lap went just as planned and I was feeling great. Upon my return to the start/finish area I had a cup of warm broth, refilled my hydration pack with another 80 ounces of fluid, and was ready to go out for my second lap.
The Spiral into an Epic Adventure
What was Going Through My Mind
My Plan of Action
The Rescue Finally Came
My epic adventure could have turned out to have a really sad ending. Because I took the seriousness of the adventure event and Alec’s advice I was prepared and survived my epic ordeal. I saw other runners that took less than the minimum requirements set by Alec. If they would have gotten lost their Epic tale would have been of a recovery and not a rescue. If you are not educated on survival skills you should not even think about attempting The Trudge. If you are not willing to take the proper gear because it will weigh you down and you are more concerned with “racing” you should not think about attempting The Trudge. Unfortunately I see people going into the wilderness unprepared all the time and my friends in Search and Rescue are the most frustrated with the people who are not prepared. Don’t be one of those unprepared people.
Editor's note: You can find more of Ultra runner Ray Churgovich (AKA Hawaiian Shirt Ray) stories on his most excellent blog HERE .