We headed out at 3:30am on Saturday morning, arriving at Douglas State Forest by 4:15am. We pulled our gear together and headed out on foot by 4:25am. It was 28 degrees and very chilly. We hiked quickly by headlamp, trying to get warm while also not losing the trail. We made our way to the state line a few miles away by around 5:05am. We took pictures at the border and start of the North South Trail, then started our watches at 5:15am and started running. The cold and dark kept our pace slow for the first few hours, but once the sun came up and we had gotten through some of the trail’s most technical sections, we picked up the pace.
The first 25 miles went by quickly, and then time slowed down. The halfway marker wasn’t halfway by mileage, and we had go at least 2-3 more miles before arriving at the marker; it was a psychological struggle to know that I was halfway done but hadn’t hit the sign yet. At the halfway sign, we took pictures and then kept on moving. We had to shed layers a few times in the heat of the day (55), but as soon as the sunlight waned, we had to layer back up. As the sun went down and the miles started to look the same, time seemed to be endless and the temperature dropped back towards freezing. I accidently saw the mileage on my watch at our last water filter break and it hit me hard that we had at least 3 hours left. I tried to mentally hunker down and just keep moving without thinking too much. Once we hit the 8 miles left point, Justin seemed to perk up for a few miles, which helped dig me out of my misery and remind me we weren’t that far away.
Justin seemed to hit a wall for the last 6 miles, but I was feeling pretty good. It was a distance I could comprehend and be joyful about how close it was to the end. So I went out in front, kept us on trail in the dark, and power hiked as quick as I could. Once we emerged onto the road for the last time, I opened up my pace and hit 6 MPH for the last 1.4 miles to the beach, enjoying the smooth road and downhill angle, and the proximity to the car.
We made it to the beach just a few minutes before 1am. We dipped our toes in the incoming tide’s waves (since it was 30 degrees, we decided against a more thorough greeting), took some pictures, and then needed to rescue our dropped trekking poles from being washed out to sea. We slowly walked back to the car in the parking lot, started the car blasting heat, grabbed a snack from the trunk, changed into dry shirts, and hopped in the car.
The trail was very well marked and easy to follow, even in the dark; we only got off trail a few times and never more than a few dozen steps. Water sources were regular and relatively prolific; I only felt thirsty once and found water under the road soon after. My food plan worked well, primarily using gels and chews with some bars and waffles mixed in for additional fat and protein. I judiciously used caffeine, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen in the second half of the run, and that helped me keep my energy up and pain down. My feet and legs felt amazingly happy in my Hoka Speed Goats and I never needed to change my socks, despite bringing 2 extra pairs. I didn’t get any blisters or chafing, which feels like a miracle. With our excellent pace of ~4.2 MPH, we broke the last unsupported FKT by 3 hours. It’s still sinking in, what we accomplished. A grand adventure to be sure.