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Laurel Highlands 70.5 - June 14, 2008 - Ohiopyle, PA

While plotting and scheming my next 50 miler, I came across the Laurel Highlands 70.5 ultra in Ohiopyle, PA. I learned from the website that the course is a scenic 70-mile trail run with rocky terrain, and downhills and uphills. The first 19.3 miles would be the toughest and the first cut-off. I wasn’t too worried and had faith I could definitely make the cut-off. I saw this ultra event as a new challenge I felt I was ready to experience. I had a talk with myself and concluded that since I had four 50-mile ultras under my belt, and because I was not really tired, exhausted or completely wiped out at the finish of my previous four 50 milers, why not increase my mileage. What’s 20 more miles? If I can run and complete 50 miles, I can complete 20 more.

But it was not to be. On the wet and misty morning on race day I overslept in the hotel room, as did my husband and children. We raced from the hotel room to the start 30 minutes away. My husband hit the gas pedal. We got pulled over by a cop. He clocked us doing 52 mph on a 25 mile speed zone. After a little explaining, he let us go and told us not to speed. We got to the start with 15 minutes to spare. The first 19 miles were brutally uphill. I was not running. I was gingerly and slowly moving my feet so as not to trip and fall on the rocky, rooty, and muddy uphill trail filled with massive rocks and boulders. I found myself crawling and scaling. I fell twice. With 3 miles to the 19.3 mile cut-off, the sweeper stayed with me until we came across another runner who was not well and really struggling. I continued on my own and missed the cut-off by about 10 minutes. It was a humbling experience. It was my first DNF (did not finish). As my family and I walked to our mini-van to head back to the hotel, it began to pour and thunder. It poured the rest of the the day, race miles, and night. So I didn't feel too bad! 


















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I am also the author of Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times. Read excerpts, praise, and reviews, and order the book here from the publisher, Amazon, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble. My Laurel Highlands journey is one of many ultramarathon experiences that weaves through my memoir. 

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