The Fine Print

How many times have you scrolled down that infinite page of text on the screen before checking the box, “I AGREE”, and hitting NEXT?  How often do you take all the “Disclaimer” and “Warning” documentation that comes with your new gadget and chunk it in the garbage while looking for the POWER ON button?  How often do you actually ignore or just not comprehend the so-called fine print?

When I was looking for a race to run, I was looking in the North Carolina area for a few reasons. First, North Carolina is beautiful and has some amazing scenery to look at.  Second, it would be a chance to go run somewhere new and challenging.  And third, I could tie it in with a trip to see Mason at college!  Somehow in all my reasons to go run there, I ignored or failed to comprehend one key piece of information in the fine print.

Leatherwood 50K Profile
Leatherwood 50K Profile

You would think that 9000 feet of elevation gain would have triggered more of a fight or flight response from me. But being from zero elevation south Louisiana, it just didn’t register. I am still trying to wrap my head around it. So being the engineer that I am, I decided to compare it to something I do know.

Back in 2011, a group of us went to Alabama to run the Mountain Mist 50K. It was known as the toughest 50K in Alabama and I distinctly remember it having 3 pretty intense climbs on the course. I remember them because my quads were cramping like crazy on the last climb and only the beer at the top of the hill kept me going! That was a tough course! It had to have at least 6000 to 7000 feet of elevation gain, right?!?

Mountain Mist 50K Profile

3872 feet.  That isn’t quite close to 9000 feet is it? Are you sensing that I may be in a little bit of trouble now? If not, let me spell it out for you a little clearer. Last Saturday, I went for my long run (4.75 miles!) During my run, I made a loop to add in a BIG hill by my house so I can start my hill training. Later this week when the hairs on the back of my neck (I do have some hairs close to my head) started standing up concerning this elevation gain, I went back and looked at the total elevation gain from that training run.  Here is what Strava told me:


Zero. Nada. Nil. In the words of the church lady, “Well isn’t that special?”  At least when I pulled up my Garmin Connect data it gave me credit for 25 feet!  That only means I have to run up and down that hill 360 times.  360 times!

The infinite ladder.
The infinite ladder.

I’m sure for some of you, these are still just numbers on a page. So I will give you one more comparison that may make my “challenge” a little bit more understandable. Imagine you get out your tallest extension ladder and you start climbing up it. And you keep climbing up it for 1.7 miles. Yes. I said miles. When you get to the top, you then run 27.6 miles along flat ground. Then you reach another ladder and climb back down 1.7 miles. (You are free to assume that you circled back to the original ladder.  I mean who has two 1.7 mile tall ladders anyway?) So you reach the ground and take a step across the finish line. Congratulations, you have just finished this race.

Okay. I am going to go lie down now. I’m tired from just writing this post.  But here’s the bottom line.

Read the fine print before signing your name on some crazy new adventure. But never use the fine print as an excuse not to try it.

I still don’t have a concrete game plan of how I will prepare for this insane amount of climbing, but I will figure it out. I just may have to get a little creative in the process.

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4 thoughts on “The Fine Print

  1. This was funny and I know your fear. I signed up to do the Jemez 50 miler in New Mexico a couple years back. They have mountains! It was crazy. Of course I only finished the 50K on account the race was called because of a blizzard!

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