Today I established a new unsupported FKT on the Georgia Loop - following the current DRT route, not precisely Rick Schick's original route. Gear and systems at the bottom if it helps future runners.
A quick thanks to three folks - Jack Pilla who coached me for the Georgia Death Race since Jan 1, Sean Blanton for pouring his heart into the course and inspiring me to check out all those trails, and of course Rick Schick, who shared a bunch of his ultra stories with me on a bus to Cheaha 50k last month. He was the inspiration for me to try the Georgia Loop.
This season I was training for GDR, and I travelled to GA in February, living out of my car and falling in love with the trails of the Chattahoochee. When all the races were cancelled/postponed this season, I knew I had to give the Georgia Loop a shot before heading home as a celebration of my awesome experience here. My biggest 5 training weeks for GDR were almost entirely on the course or local forest roads, with 70mi per week and 11k of gain on average. I ended up knowing the DRT like the back of my hand and camping in some truly beautiful spots - the top of the forest road at Sapling Gap in particular was stunning.
I began the run just before 3AM because hot weather and then T-storms were forecast for the PM. I ran CCW from Woody Gap. The darkness was only a minor challenge, and may have actually prevented me from going out too hard. Weather was warm (for a northerner), humid and breezy. At 2.5 hr I was on Coosa, and at 4 hours, I was ascending out of Mulky Gap to the most incredible sunrise. Pink purple and red extended all across the horizon in huge bands and the clouds above cleared just enough for me to see the rising crescent moon above. (!!!) At around mile 22 I bonked a bit, and came back at mile 28. When I hit 30 miles at almost exactly 6hr, it blew my mind that I had managed to get there so quickly. I decided to push myself to see if I could match Ben Mercer's time, even though he had a slightly tougher route on DRT. The last 10 miles were just brutal since I was getting heat exhaustion (northerner) with a lot of stomach pains, and so my pace slowed significantly at the end. I think keeping my filtration/pack reshuffle stops quick was instrumental... I was stopped for about 15min total. Other than some nasty bumps of my L big toe, one minor fall and two blisters, I came away relatively unscathed! I will be going from 9 toenails to 8 after this adventure.
Lots of friendly hikers out. An incredible route.
I carried all my supplies and filtered water at Slaughter creek, Mulky Gap, Point Bravo (route 60), Long Creek, and a top off at Justus Creek. My water system was to combine Aquamira chlorine drops in a tube 5-10 min before hitting the source. Then they're ready to go right into the bladder, and I pour a second set of drops for the bottle so they bind while I hike away from the spring. Even with a little pack reshuffle, the transitions are very quick.
Sir Benjamin MacGruff, Keeper of the Legend of Beartown
- Hydration vest and also belt, mostly held 32oz in the former and 16 in the latter after each refill
- Map, Rain layer, buff, extra sox (Darn Tough the chosen sock) and other emergency stuff (phone, whistle, lighter...)
- Ibuprofen (one pill taken at 0hr, 6hr and 8hr for my bad knee)
- Hanky for mopping brow; sucked sweat out of it occasionally which was quite nice
Food I ate - 250+cal per hour
- 18-20 ounces of fluid per hour
- 10 scoops tailwind (100 ea), wearing my ex's T-shirt (packed in Nuun bottles :P)
- Stinger waffles - 450
- Grilled cheese - 400
- A cup of VT maple syrup divided in travel bottles - 800
- Pringles - 250
- Two Clif "enough caffeine to kill Grandma" gels, taken at 6hr and 9hr - 200
Hopefully that helps future runners. This is a gnarly route!