Elevator Shaft Run. On Fire.

I just woke up from a nap coma.

I don’t know if y’all noticed. But the earth is on fire. It is on actual fire. All of it.

I like to think it is the weight of the atmospheric fire that is making movement feel impossible. And undesirable. That and the decision to run stupid places.

As of two weeks ago, the plan was to run The Wild Oak Trail today.

Because I liked saying I was gonna do the TWOT.

Then we ran up Hanging Rock. When the earth was beginning to smolder. And about halfway through that process, we decided it was too hot for that bullshit. So we’d just have a lake day instead.

And then the earth caught total fire. And someone decided it was going to be too hot for a day in the water.

So let’s run the Elevator Shaft instead…?

Because it’s too hot for water. But perfect weather for this.

See how that goes straight up? In a single mile?

Need more of a real-world visual to grasp the bullshittiness of this?


And that was on one of the few sections where I could stop without falling backwards straight off of the mountain. Which I almost did. Taking Rogue with me. But I’ve got a core of steel and managed to stop myself. Or God. Maybe God stopped me. Whatevs.


That’s some bullshit, man.

That’s not how people spend the hottest day in forever.

But here we are.

So, Drinkwater thinks he wants to make this the next challenge. To replace the North Mountain Loop bullshit. If he ever finishes it.

You may have heard me whine about that one before?

Damn. That.

Now, I will say that it is possibly not as horrible as NML. Possibly. Maybe a smidgen less worse. But just a smidge. Only an undetectable smidge. And I imagine that smidge will disappear the second someone forces me to run that route and then turn around and run the same route backwards. Which will happen. We all know it will happen.

And maybe there is a teensy weensy bit more beauty on this course than on NML.

Like the near-view you get towards the top of the Shaft. Where you see the sun starting to crest the mountain next door. That no one knows the name of. And it’s throwing pretty dances of light through the trees onto the trail.

And you realize that that bullshit is about to turn into history’s most vicious sauna.

And Rogue is already pointing out that the bears can absolutely smell our cooking flesh. And it probably smells to them what bacon smells like to us.

And you’re already soaked through with sweat. Which means you don’t have anywhere to wipe the sweat rolling down your face. Or is it snot? Both? Probably.

Luckily, lessons were learned that one time on North Mountain. Remember? How My Weekend Fell Apart that one time?

So I was running through three bottles of water and Gatorade. Totes staying hydrated today.

But as we finished that first mile and a half of straight the hell up climb, I was only keeping delirium somewhat at bay as Tiny Brazilian was explaining directions to get through the next part of the route. Something about a Big Bad Wolf and turning left, not right. Or right, not left. Or…

We walk-ran hybrided up and down that top two-ish miles of wolf trail. And we were pretty happily moving along.

But when we got to the section about three and a half miles in where we should be turning onto a trail to take us back down the other side of the mountain. The not totally engulfed in flames side. I wasn’t fully processing what was happening.

As Tiny Brazilian wandered up and down the dirt road.


And so we all began just wandering into the woods at random spots.

At one point, I think I suggested that we just head straight in and we’d end up on a road eventually.

I’m pretty sure Rogue was also thinking it.

That’s what Spartan does to you.

But I could see that others were intent on staying on an actual trail.

So I did what I do.

I took control.

I found the trail.


I did.

I found the trail and saved all of our lives.

I mean, our water wasn’t going to hold out forever.

Someone had to lead us back to safety.

So, I did.

I found this.

Trail. Master.

This part wasn’t horrible.

Until we came up on a wall in the distance and I got a little nervous that this was a trap and someone was gonna push me onto the other side of the wall and then not let me back in.

But then I remember that I was totally born here and there’s no way someone is gonna send me back to a country I’ve never even visited. That won’t ever happen. And also, we’re not that close to Mexico. So…

We did a little rock climbing.

And then.

We lost the trail again.


But again. Who saves the day?

Well, ok, so Rogue may have seen the trail first. But I saw it right behind her. And she said I get to claim this one. Because I needed it more. Because of how I was gonna feel when I took my hat off and saw what had happened to my beautiful hair during all of the sweat and elevation. But also because she totally ignored me Tuesday when I walked into PlayFitStayFit in my work clothes and didn’t even bother to tell me I looked hot.

What kind of friend doesn’t tell you you’re hot?

So, as I claimed to find the trail yet again, Floyd Fit Fastness promoted me from Trial Master to Trail Sherpa.


So, this is where you start coming down off the mountain. And it’s not horrible. And totally runnable. But not photographable. Because you’ll just fall the hell off the side of the mountain if you try to do that. Because those switchback trails are about a tenth of a centimeter wide. Fair warning.

But at the bottom? This little oasis of cool awaits you

So, this is where some people will turn around and do all of that. In reverse.

And sure them dudes ballin. Yeah, that’s nice.

But no. Not today Earth Fire King.

Today we climbed up out of that oasis. Up to the abandoned tire road. Where I was briefly worried that Tiny Brazilian had set another trap and was gonna make us push those tires back to the car. Not roll. Push. Have you tried that bullshit? It’s a PlayFitStayFit favorite.

But I don’t think she saw them.

So instead, we just ran the mile back to the car.

And as we stood around Floyd Fit Fastness’s car trying desperately to make the sweat stop pouring off of us, Rogue realized that it was only 9am. And Magical Erica Austin Roanoke Yoga was gonna be at Ballast Point at 10am.

We debated a bit about how gross we were and who had extra clothes and how much we wanted to test Magical Yogess. But really, when does she ever get to see us when we’re not coming off of a mountain and smelling very much like decomposing bodies?

She accepts us in all our forms.

And smells.

So we went. To magical yoga.

To undo the damage that a week of work stress and financial stress and physical fitness has done to us.

And it was perfect.

Life is all about good choices.

And this is NOT going to be our next challenge.

7 responses to “Elevator Shaft Run. On Fire.”

  1. “I saved all of our lives.” 🤣😂

    1. I totally did. Don’t let Kim or Erc tell you any different.

  2. You were in my backyard. That trail you found and did some rock climbing then lost then found is the top piece of Asylum. If you had just stayed on the bigger, wider road you would have ended up in the same place much easier, but with less adventure. Both ways lead you to the top of Big Bad Wolf which is much more reasonable than Elevator Shaft which is just ridiculous. I struggled to just keep my footing it is so steep.

    1. This is good intel. Because you know they’ll make me go back. Of course, they probably also won’t let me do anything other than the ridiculous…

  3. Oh, and thanks for moving me out of last place this year on the Shaft. Look at your Strava map how close you were to the main trail the whole time. That’s a nice little trail but the direction is deceiving. I was shocked where I came out.

    1. I do what I can. (But yeah, I see what you’re talking about. I was trying to see that while we were looking for the trail to see how close we were, but of course nothing shows up on there while you’re in the middle of it.)

  4. […] Because fucking Elevator Shaft. […]

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