FKT: Lea Mulligan - S.C.A.R. (TN, NC) - 2024-04-27

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Total time
15h 22m 32s

I have dreamed of doing SCAR for years after going to school at Maryville College and spending those years exploring the Smokies. I have previously crewed 3 different friends going SOBO and decided that I wanted to share the experience of finishing in the epic lights of Fontana Dam. 

The night before, my partner, Mike, and I drove up to stay at a little air bnb near Davenport Gap. After a very restless night, we got up at 4 am to get ready to head to the start. I started at 5:24 am to the sound of birds chirping and a gentle breeze. I plunged into the night with Mike at my side for the first 50K to Newfound Gap. It was really special to get those miles together because SCAR was our last big adventure together before getting married in a month! 

My strategy was to shuffle as many of the ups as possible and bomb every single down. I felt amazing coming up to sunrise along the ridge line and eating my first of many Spring Gels. I consumed a gel every 30 minutes the entire run along with some cheez-its, ramen, and lots of Skratch Labs High Carb Mix. 

One of the best things about doing this run at the end of April was the first signs of spring in the mountains. Mike and I got to see a magical amount of tiny wildflowers, and it felt like we were running in an enchanted forest. There was a wonderful variety of fog and epic views the entire day! 

I was a little nervous as we got close to Charlie's Bunion because I realized we were about to hit a sub 6:30 50K at Newfound Gap. It was a lot faster than I'd planned on running the first chunk, but I'd felt miraculously fresh all day. I decided to continue pushed and turned on some music to fly down to meet the rest of my crew at Newfound Gap. 

My mom was crew chief for the day and made sure I had lots of snack options laid out for me. I spent approximately 5 minutes eating ramen and watermelon before heading towards Clingman with my good friend, Will. He was planning on running with me until the end. We had a blast chatting through the entire Clingman's climb, and I was starting to feel really hopeful about a fast time! I got to Clingman's Dome at 8 hours and 30 minutes and met my crew one last time. 

After that, Will and I booked it down the steep hill from Clingman's, and I started trying to soak in every moment of the remaining adventure. One of my favorite moments of the day was the fog clearing out around Rocky Top and getting full views in that area. Unfortunately, at that point, Will started feeling bad after sacrificing some of his water to me and eventually chose to hang out at a shelter to refill and recoup.

I finished the last half marathon solo and loved the time to reflect on the day. I was racing sunlight at that point, and it was something truly special to be descending alongside the sun. Mike and my friend Skyler hiked up the last 2 miles to run in with me to the dam. I could not have been happier to stretch out and see how fast I could run those final miles. 

Overall, I was able to remain consistent throughout the entire day and never had any huge low points. I was so thankful to be out there in the mountains with my people! This route is a special one. I'm so appreciative of Abigail giving me advice beforehand and of the entire supportive running community! I would highly recommend SCAR to anyone!