From Issue #50: Running with the Horses

Darkside 8-Hour Run
Bear Creek Farm, Moreland, GA

A Race Report by Scott Ludwig

You would be hard pressed to find a better venue, better weather, or a better host of runners and volunteers than could be found at this year’s Darkside 8-Hour Run.

Let’s start with the venue, the magnificent Bear Creek Farm in Moreland, Georgia. For the second year in a row Bear Creek owners Hal and Linda Barry opened up their property on Kentucky Derby Saturday so we could literally ‘run with the horses.’ Forty-four runners — most of them running the entire eight hours – enjoyed the beautiful 1.02-mile asphalt loop meandering in and out of the many pastures as they were gazed upon by pairs of equine eyes throughout the day.

As for the weather: Temperatures in the high 40’s at the 7 a.m. start, nothing but blue skies throughout the day and a cool breeze helping to balance things out once the temperature climbed into the low 70’s in the afternoon. Ideal conditions for runners and volunteers alike, as evidenced by the many sunburnt faces noticed beneath the gazebo as awards and race mementos (pint glasses!) were handed out after the race.

As for the runners and the volunteers, what can I say but repeat something I’ve said time and time again: Runners are some of the finest people I know. It’s my pleasure to tell you something about them.

(Please note: I had everyone sign a pre-race waiver. It was mostly standard fare—‘I am participating in this event willingly and of my own accord, etc.’ But I added one sentence that everyone failed to notice but I pointed out before the race officially started:

I agree not to boast about my performance on any social media with the understanding that the Race Director will take care of that detail for me after the conclusion of this event.

Now it’s time for me to keep my end of the bargain.)

So, in no particular order let me tell you a little something about them:

 Runners are generous to a fault. The Darkside Running Club provided drinks and fluids for the runners and the volunteers. Entrants were asked to bring a ‘community property munchie’ to share with their fellow runners. At the end of the day there was still enough food left over to fill the back of a passenger van.

 Four husband-and-wife teams competed: Sandy and Danny Staggs of Livingston, Tennessee; Amy Diaz-Carpenter and Don Carpenter of Greer, South Carolina; Meredith and Tim Beatty of Marietta, Georgia; and Kathleen McElhannon and Greg James of Ridgeville, South Carolina. Coincidentally, Kathleen and Greg won the unofficial ‘husband & wife total mileage’ competition with a combined 73.44 miles!

 Forty-four runners combined to run a cumulative 1,288.26 miles, the equivalent distance of 49+ marathons.

 Runners from six states competed: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Minnesota. David Holmen traveled 1,141 miles from his home in Eagan, Minnesota to Moreland, Georgia so he could celebrate his 53rd birthday by running almost 47 miles with his Darkside family. (Please note: The 44 runners ran further than the distance of David’s trip. Who needs a plane?)

 One father and daughter competed. Together they ran 43 miles. The daughter only ran one of them, but it was really, really quick for an eight-year old. Right, Maddie?

 It was good to see Jill Floyd running well again. She’ll be back to running 100-milers again before you know it. She is one tough lady.

 Our youngest runner was Angel Shoemaker, age 5 and came very close to running her age in miles.

 Our most senior runners fared quite well (ladies first): Marsha White, age 67 completed 32.64 miles and Roscoe Douglas, also age 66 ran 26.52 miles.

Don Carpenter ran a personal best for total distance.

Jess Kurti completed a ‘marathon’ in the state of Georgia in her quest for the 50 States Club (accomplished by running a marathon in all 50 states).

Susan Paraska ran a personal best for an 8-hour race. Like a fine wine…

Lisa Grippe finished her first 50K (the first ‘rung’ in the ultramarathon ladder).

Di Sha finished in second place amongst the women and ran one loop with a beer in her hand. She is my hero.

The volunteers were WONderful: Heather and Angel Shoemaker, Molly and Isabel Wolfgram, Jill Floyd (after she knocked out just over 21 miles), Joye McElroy, Susan Lance, Caleb Torres, Anne Rentz, Wendy Kent (after knocking out a marathon!) and Brian Farrier. What about the Race Director, you ask? Well, the volunteers were so great I found the time to run a few loops myself, including two each with the eventual male and female winner. How did I manage to keep up with the two of them for two miles? I waited until late in the day after they both had a good 40 miles or more under their belts and the tiniest bit of fatigue was starting to set in. I wasn’t born yesterday, people.

 The volunteers appreciated the two pre-sunrise containers of hot coffee, courtesy of the gracious Malissa Anderson-Strait.

 Eight runners—eight runners ran 40 miles or more. Four were men and four were women. Four of the women and one of the men were inducted into the Oval of Honor (40+ miles for women, 48+ miles for men). One of the women, Eileen Torres set a new course record. In fact, only three men have ever bettered her incredible total of 54.06 miles in the history of the event. One of those men is Ferit Toska, who won this year’s race with an outstanding 56.10 miles, with over 31 of them in the first four hours of the race. It’s worth mentioning Ferit is now the reigning champion of the three major Darkside events: last November’s Peachtree City 50K, the Running Dead Ultra (50K) last March and now the Darkside 8-Hour. As for the other new female inductees, welcome Di Sha, Ellen Comeaux and Sarah Murphy.

 Last but not least, the Darkside 8-Hour Run will have a new Race Director next year when it is held for the 13th time. It is my honor and privilege to tell you that Joye McElroy will be taking over the reins in 2015. I hope everyone will join me in wishing her well and supporting her and the event so it will continue to be one of the most runner-friendly timed events in the world.

One last thing I want to mention: Wendy Mitchell posted a photo on a certain social media on her way to the race. It was a picture of the radio dial in her car displaying the song that was playing at the time, John Cafferty’s…

On the Darkside

Coincidence?

Fate?

On the Darkside, you just never know.

2014 Darkside 8-Hour Run Results