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Hellgate Recon (Floyd Field to Camping Gap)

I ran Terrapin Mountain 50k and Promise Land 50k++ in 2021.

They didn’t go well for me.

I mean, I finished them. Within the cutoff time. But I just barely didn’t finish dead fucking last.

Beautiful Beastie scheduled more Hellgate recon for us yesterday. This time starting at Floyd Field. And running out to Camping Gap. And back. She estimated 15 miles.

I didn’t know either of those names. But they looked far enough up the Blue Ridge Parkway that I felt that we were unlikely to wander onto Glenwood Horse Trail.

So I met BB and Gazelle at Floyd Field. And we started off down some dirt road. It was actually kind of nice. We just jogged along for two miles. Until we came to a trail. Beside a tiny waterfall. That I was…supposed to recognize as the beginning of Promise Land.

I kind of stood there. Turning in circles. Trying to understand. While BB and Gazelle reviewed the Hellgate course map.

Then decided that, yes. We are going to climb up this Promise Land trail.


Apparently, Camping Gap or whatever it’s called, is the ancillary gate you have to run out to at Promise Land, before turning around and going up to the parkway. Just, like, an extra 50 feet or whatever. But required.

My brain immediately reverted back to Promise Land brain. Calculating shit. I remembered that gate being about ten miles in. Almost 1/3 of the way through the race. If we out and back this, I’m going to end up having to run almost 20 really bullshit miles.

I was told 15.

I was not emotionally prepared for 20. Especially with the lingering Promise Land trauma kicking in.

But we finally got up to the grassy path portion of the route. That offers quite a nice bit of downhill running with only the occasional hole for my left food to twist into.

But there are also quite a few climbs mixed in. So that, by the time we got near the gate. (Only near. Because none of us felt the need to actually run down to it.) I was prepared to stage a full on revolt. If either of these chicks tried to make me turn around and run back.

I knew where I was. I knew exactly how far I had to go to get to the parkway. I’d calculated the hell out of that course in preparation for Promise Land.

But then BB and Gazelle start throwing around the word Terrapin. Saying shit like, “remember when you run through that gate to get over here?”

Ummmm, no…

Wait. Is this the circle part? Is this that bullshit circle part of Terrapin Mountain?

Wait. Are we on Terrapin Mountain?

I swear I do not understand these Blue Ridge Mountains. They just be popping up anywhere they damn well please. Forcing their way into whatever run they want to be included on.

Anyway, that conversation thankfully led to BB deciding that she’d seen what she needed to see for Hellgate. So we could cut up the Terrapin loopy path to the parkway. And I was happy. And then she mentioned something about taking the AT back to the car. But I just blocked that part out of my brain.

Because my legs had run through just about everything they had in them by that point.

They did not have AT left.

This was my view for much of the last part of this run.

I was just trying to keep that pink shirt in my field of vision.

And every now and then, they’d stop. And let me catch up. And every time, I’d unleash a new round of expletives.

“Ok, but we need to get you trained up for Hone Quarry.”

For what???

“Hone Quarry. That race I sent to y’all and you signed up for two seconds later?”

Oh. That. I did do that dumb shit, didn’t I.

“You didn’t even read about it, did you?”

I can’t read about those things. Because reading leads to thinking. And if I think, I won’t do.

I can’t let my brain have any say in my ultrarunning life. She’ll force us into retirement.

When we were about a quarter of a mile from the Parkway. BB and Gazelle stop. And wait patiently for me to catch up. And then they say…

“Good news! We’ve reached the highest point. It’s all downhill from here.”



I love these women. I do. They are strong and powerful and fun and funny and inspiring and…


These women are straight up liars.

Because I could see the damn uphill behind them.

We kept on climbing.

Like, another 200-300 feet of elevation more of climbing.

If we were at the highest point back there. Why the fuck am I still climbing? Are we climbing up to your throne of lies??

But we finally. FINALLY. Made it up to the Parkway. And then over to Sunset Fields. Where I started having Sunset Fields to James River flashbacks.

And my body hates the road. My hips and ankles will bitch about this next move for weeks. But I just couldn’t force myself onto the AT. Because my brain knows how the AT works. You go down. And then you have to climb back up out.

I would never make it back up out.

So I insisted on the parkway.

Which wasn’t not pretty.

But when you finally see sign of a person on a horse. That means happiness. Because that also means car.

And BB told me she was proud of me. And that I did so well. On a really tough course. And I don’t know why that felt as good as when my mom tells me she’s proud of me. But it did.

Because my heart spent a lot of time in red during that run.

So I didn’t feel like I did so well. But I did well enough to make it back to my car.

And home to thanksgiving leftovers. And Indiana basketball.

And now I’m not sure how to get back up off the couch again.

But it’s ok. Because I’m an adequate athlete.

And Hellgate’s gonna be over soon…



Just reading and writing and running and looking for my happy place.

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