Oak Mountain 50K Trail Run
Oak Mountain State Park is Alabama largest state park with 9,940 acres of some of Alabama's most beautiful scenery. There are 52 miles of trails traversing the park. They picked the worst for this 50K race. The park is located six miles south of my house so that is where I do almost all of my training. (Trail running, swimming and biking) I do my training runs on the same trails as the race and they are tough! The elevation gain on the longest climbs is about 600 feet. The "white trail" gains 600 feet in less than one mile! That is averaging about a 12% grade.
The course had about 4,000 feet of elevation gain and there is probably not 100 contiguous feet in the entire 33 miles that is level. (I am not sure how 33 miles comes out to 50K but in trail running close does count). The trail is either going up or going down - no flat. The trails consist of a beautiful, smooth layer of pine straw for about 200 yards total over the 33 miles, The rest is a mix of hard dirt, dirt with roots, dirt with rocks, dirt with rocks and roots, rocks with roots, roots with rocks and boulders, all of the above in above in every conceivable combination including all at the same time. Perhaps the worst is the steepest sections or the "red" bike trail. After years of a constant onslaught of mountain bikes, every movable rock has been dislodged and knocked off the trail. What is left are the tops of immovable objects. Hang a toe and you are going down. Oh yes, there is one steep section that looks like a scree field on a Colorado 14er. At the finish almost everyone was skinned up and bloody. (Except us locals that do all our trail running at Oak Mountain) We have learned the hard way to stay focused. In two years I have: 1) broken a rib, 2) twisted an ankle and continued to run for another 4 hours. That caused a stress fracture in my already twisted ankle. 3) Fell face first on a rock and ended up with 24 stitches in my forehead, and the area is still numb. 4) Too may scrapes and bruises to count. Amazingly, for the next year after that fall is did not fall once on a trail run including in the Pinhoti 100 mile trail run.
Below Peavine Falls - on the race course.
The climb up form Peavine Falls - on all fours!
6:12:34 Finish and 36th place out of 126 starters
The first hard climb less than a half mile from srart, on the Yellow Trail.
The stream below Tranquility Lake on the Yellow Trail.
Peavien Falls at the end of the Blue Trail.
Water Crossing on the Red Bike Trail.