Moonbow Ultra 2017 Review:
I have so many people that I need to thank after this event so let me start with that:
- Johns Run/Walk Shop - I was very fortunate enough to get to know Melody and the entire team from the shop prepping for this event. Not only were they an amazing sponsor but I came away with a new group of running community after this event.
- Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort - Owners Papa Smurff and Dania played a big part in making this event happen in the first place. Smurff knows this area like the back of his hand and over a year ago when I was still exploring the area he would tell me where all the secret "goat trails" were. If you ever wondered how we got some of the coolers to the remote locations like we did it's because of their great navigational skills floating up the river to place these coolers.
- Mike Whisman - Mike is another ultra marathon race director in Kentucky. He's actually my inspiration for the Moonbow in the first place. I have competed in his events and they have all kicked my ass. Over the year I have gotten to know Mike personally and he is overall incredible guy. When he offered to do timing for the Moonbow I knew this was going to be a great event. Definitely check out one of his many trail runs with Next Opportunity Events.
- J&H Lanmark Store - This is probably my favorite store in Lexington. Jim Johnson (former RD for Iron Horse Half Marathon) offered to get together with me and give me some race directing tips. Not only that but he also was able to get the Solomon race shoes for our first place 50K racers.
- Territory Run Co. - Spoke with Brett via the phone for a while one day and was more then excited when I heard he was going to donate supplies for our event. Great guy and definitely hope to stay in touch with him for the future.
- Sheltowee Hammock Company - Got to meet Alex and his wife during this process and I'm really glad I did. Not only did Alex donate a couple hammocks and pillows for our racers but Alex actually came out and made killer time on this technical course.
- Hammer Nutrition - Was able to speak with Andraya from Hammer who donated so many great supplies for our event.
- Farm House Inn - Peg was so sweet and so glad she partnered with us this year. I hope whoever stayed at her BnB enjoyed every bit of it.
- Kristina's Kitchen - I was so glad I finally got to meet Krisitina the night before race day. She drove all the way to Cumberland Falls to bring us muffins and energy bites for all the racers. I can't wait to get back to the area to try more from her restaurant.
- Evan Coppage - My good friend Evan donated some of his Country Boy Brewing's beer for all of our volunteers. Him and his girlfriend Emily also participated and did really good for their first trail run.
- Highbridge Springs - Linda and Joe from Highbridge springs are why everyone stayed so hydrated on race day. They have donated to a couple other events I have done in the past and am so grateful to have them in our community.
- KY State Parks and Daniel Boone National Forest - Diane, Roy, and Eloyce I realize that none of this could have happened without you all. Thank you for being so easy to work with.
- Lisa Anstine and Scott Black - Thanks to both of you for letting me borrow some coolers
- Joe Kuosman and the entire W6 team - For helping us out with T-shirts and pint glasses
- Rick Showalter - For coming out and taking some photos
- Volunteers - Ryan, Lori, Doug, Laurette, Dan W, Sam, John, Don, Scott, Ester, Whitney, Leslie, and Mr. Godbey all of you played such a big part in making this day happen. I really can't thank you all enough!
- Wife and Daughter - Most of all my wife and daughter deserve the most credit for letting me take so much time to plan this entire thing over the year. All the logos, pint glasses, shirts and many of the social media aspects were done by my wife. She tends to stay behind scenes but there is no way we could have done any of this without her!
Now for the race re-cap itself:
You really could not have asked for a more beautiful day then what we had for our inaugural Moonbow Ultra. Crisp fall morning with a high of about 72 degrees. It was such a perfect autumn Kentucky day. However, things were not so perfect for our first years event.
It was around 7pm on Friday September 29th when one of the runners came up to me at the packet pick up and told me they had been out on the trail that day and noticed where some of the course markings had been taken down and removed. My heart dropped as I realized the trail I had been marking in sections over the last few weekends had been vandalized. I was warned about this by Dania from Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort who told me the locals will sometimes do things like this.
As soon as I found this out I sent my friends Ryan and Amy into Corbin to the wal-mart to get some supplies. After the packet pick up was over I went out on the course to mark the most important places that I knew needed them the most. I was out on the trail until about 1am that night. I eventually got a hot shower and went to bed at 1:30am.
My alarm went off on Saturday morning at 4:30am and then I drove into Corbin to pick up coffee, breakfast, and to fill up on gas just in case since there is not a whole lot of gas options near Cumberland Falls. Turns out I am really glad I filled up when I did. Little did I know I was going to be driving around as much as I would on race day.
The start to the day seemed pretty smooth as each division took off at their scheduled times. At around 10am I drove out to Aid Station #4 to make sure it was fully stocked. It was shortly after this I received a call over the radio that we had a runner who had been stung by a bee. My first reaction was, "Well, this is trail running and that is bound to happen."
My friend Ryan responded back with, "No, this is really bad he needs EMS as soon as possible."
The rest of this time is still kind of a blur to me. Running back and forth between aid stations and the finish line. Every person seems to have a unique version of the story and each one is powerful enough to make you realize how amazing people are when they come together like that. From the stories I have heard it sounds like we had at least 12 runners alternating in carrying Shane, who had been stung by the wasps, out to the ambulance and then to the hospital. I have already discussed this with all participants in more detail but I really believe it's because of the camaraderie from our runners who possibly saved Shane's life that day. At around 7:30pm we wrapped up the day as far as getting everyone off the trail and back to safety.
The Moonbow trail is about as remote as it gets in Kentucky. If you have Verizon you are lucky to have one bar at a couple of the ridges. Our radios that we are using still struggled to get communication on race day even after all the tests we had done. We had multiple people coming back with wasp stings, bear sightings, snake sightings, twisted ankles, bloody knees, and all around beat up from this race. I had originally stated the trail is steep and technical at the beginning but it eventually flattens out. Some people agreed most people did not like the fact that I even gave them the impression that this trail has any bit of easiness to it. Majority of the consensus was this is the most scenic and beautiful trail runners had ever been on but also the most technical and difficult trail they have ever done. People also found that GPS tracking in this remote valley is nearly impossible with various readings most of them being longer then the proposed distances.
All in all it was such a fun weekend getting to meet so many different people from around the country. Still not sure if Moonbow Ultra will be something that becomes an annual event or not. If it does I have already stated a few of the things we would do differently that I have discussed about with most of you. I look forward to spending some more time in the future with my wife, daughter, job, and a lot of you running on some trails and training for some other ultras around the region. Thank you so much to all of you for participating in the Moonbow Ultra this year and look forward to seeing you all again soon!