[Editor's Note: Somehow Ashley's Suunto recorded the total distance and time correctly but the data is not being displayed correctly on Movescount. Movescount shows her effort ending about 25 miles south of the northern end of the park. Because the distance recorded by her watch is consistent with the length of the effort, we believe her effort is valid. Ashley has reached out to Suunto about getting this resolved.]
I started at 522 on Oct 7th at 9am and began to work my way southbound. I focused on moving comfortably and constantly on this beautiful fall day, arriving at Pinnacle’s just after enjoying a sunset near Mary’s Rock. I had my first longer break several hours later at Little Stoney Man, devouring a made-to-order burger from my husband and 30 minutes of putting my feet up to prepare for the very windy night ahead. I felt sleepy when I arrived at the Hightop parking around 5am and decided to eat breakfast and rest. After 45 minutes of trying to sleep with no success, I got back on the trail as the sun came up. I had a pacer for the first time and would have company on and off until the finish. I made it to Blackrock around 3:30 and was starting to feel tired after an energetic day but kept grinding, hoping I’d get close to Rockfish Gap before needing to sleep. The sun went down to start the second night a few miles after I left Turks and things began to change. My energy was low, I was irritable, my appetite wasn’t great, I became cold, and climbing felt so hard. I laid down for a short while at Beagle Gap, got up and crawled to the halfway point at Rockfish (39.5 hours), and then back to Beagle for another quick rest. Still, no actual sleep. Once the sun came up on Friday, my third day, I started to feel re-energized. I had a great day, moving well and smiling. I had great pacers, the weather was beautiful, the leaves were changing, and I ate like 25 bags all of my favorite chips. I kept pushing and didn’t try to sleep again until midnight where I took my longest break of 2 hours. I may have fallen asleep for a minute here and there but mostly tossing and turning trying to get comfortable with my sore feet and glutes. The sun came up on Saturday just before Fishers Gap and, for the first time, I started to encounter a lot of people. This was pretty difficult in the moment, so I kept my head down and took deep breaths. I enjoyed a huge breakfast that my husband cooked of pancakes, potatoes, bacon, and eggs at Stoney man. Then, for the first time since I started, I fell asleep for nearly 20 minutes. Much needed! My husband joined me at Pinnacle where he would help me move to Hogback – and I needed a lot of help through here. The crowds going through Mary’s Rock were frustrating and the trail tore up my feet. I was relieved when it became dark again. During the last 20 miles or so I felt like I was falling apart (I felt like I had run 200 miles). Everything hurt and I was ready to finish but I was able to keep moving because of my wonderful pacers, Sheila, Ellen, and the sweetest little dog Oakley. I arrived back where I started at 522 just after 1:30am. Ate a burger from Spelunkers and called it a day.
Huge thanks to my crew and pacers. I’ve never felt so supported and loved and couldn’t have done this without you.