White Rock is close to home, which is a refreshing change from the runs requiring a 3:45am departure ahead of a 3 hour drive. This year I had some friends from Memphis who came all the way over just for the event. Not used to herding an entire household out of the door in the morning, we came screeching up to the start in my subcompact Honda just as RD PoDog was yelling "Go!". As we joined the jolly but small starting line, I saw that I knew about 2/3 of the field, and was instantly bombarded by friends congratulating me for making it. I ran to the first aid station in full conversation with several folks that reinforced the feeling of "home" that I often get in this situation. Running countless miles with others over the years has a way of turning the whole into far greater than the sum of the parts, and I am often touched at the sense of family that I feel in the presence of the running peers that I have gotten to know. Back to that first aid station... I stopped for what felt like a full 10 minutes to re-organize myself since I didn't have a chance to do it pre-race. A little embarrassing, but overall added to the relaxed tone of the day. I have a couple of events in March that have a little more pressure on them, so I enjoyed a true fun run.
I wish that I had a good picture of the scene at the top. I am not good at remembering the mile-by-mile details of runs, but I do recall thinking that the course (still a temporary course due to closures on the original) doesn't seem to be "up" on the way out and "down" on the way back at all. In fact, I swear that I walked more uphills on the way in. Don't you like my non-scientific course profile? Anyway, upon getting to the "top", I was beckoned in by friends from Fayetteville who were working the turnaround aid station. I had seen these guys no less than 12 hours earlier at happy hour, then the after happy hour, and... you get the idea. I saw my Athens-Big Fork running companion already plopped into a camp chair, beer in hand. After exchanging a knowing look that his race was done (me), and a look-who's-smarter thumbs-up (him), I wrote my name on the list at the overlook, said goodbye to my friends, and turned around.