FKT: Rachel Blinn - Foothills Trail (NC, SC) - 2023-01-03

Route variation
out & back
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
2d 15h 13m 34s

Truly don't have enough words to describe this. I got the FKT which is amazing!!!! My original goal pace was 26 min a mile which in the grand scheme of things is very unfeasible in the beginning. I started off walking as much as I could and felt great! However I got to Laurel Valley about 2 hours ahead of when I originally intended to get there. My friends Jordan (crew chief/pacer) and Philipp (crew/pacer) were not yet there when I arrived and I got anxious- they said they'd be there at 8 and I got there at 7:40. Luckily after like 2 minutes they pulled up and were anxious because they thought they would have more time. I made the mistake of not eating something super substantial before this section- it was 32 miles and 32 miles is a looooong time when you're trying to take it as easy as possible. As we went out I still felt great- I ate every 30 min religiously and stayed drinking. However, Jordan and Philipp hadn't packed enough food or water. They were trying to save as much as they could- I had an extra Salomon bottle with a filter cap to lend them but that was the main thing that concerned me. In the grand scheme of things very grateful it wasn't me running out of things but still I felt bad! Luckily there were plenty of creeks for filtering water purposes. When we got to Whitewater (after crossing a bridge you had to jump onto from a rock and then jump off the bridge onto another rock) everyone was calorie deficient, probably including myself. Craig Peterson was there with food and I fueled up as he proceeded to pace me. The night was beautiful but I got grumpy towards the end. Anyway, at Oconee I was halfway through and feeling very worn out. I tried taking a 2 hour nap- my watch kept beeping telling me I was off course and then after about 1.5 hours of laying there skmeone stuck their head in the car and asked if i was doing okay.After that I just got up. I felt better and started off to do the next 2 sections alone. I was suffering a bit from Oconee to burrel's Ford. It was a long section with tons of ups and downs- plus, mentally I was very fatigued and wondering how on EARTH I was going to make it to the end. 100 miles is long and hard and I was wondering why I was trying to make my life so difficult by running way farther than that. Finally when I reached Burrel's Ford my friend Jordan was there and I ate some things that put some life into my body. I started the next section feeling a little more hopeful- I was dreading doing the laurel valley section (the one that came after) but looking forward to getting it over with and also running with my friend Lauren during it. I was running when I could and walking when I had to. It felt slow though. I had started hallucinating and as night approached I started getting nervous- I wanted to get to the next crew point before it got dark because I wasn't enjoying being alone with the "shadow creatures " (sidenote/something maybe you didn't know about me- I am a recovering drug addict, been clean since 2018, and one of my drug choices was crystal meth. Longest I stayed awake was 2 weeks! But anyway when I am sleep deprived from running I start seeing very vivid hallucinations and demons that I saw when I was using meth. It's odd to experience them again but at the same time I know they aren't real- but when I was using meth I was experiencing them constantly so always strange to go back to that state!). A fog rolled in as it was getting dark and I felt the shadow creature's presence even more clearly- their features were becoming more prominent and I grew nervous. I had service and my friend called me and we talked for a while as I shuffled down the trail. It helped and finally I reached the road and my friends cheered me on as I approached the truck. I loaded up on calories and was looking forward to running with Laurem- we left and shuffled down the trail, crossing bridge after bridge in the dark. We started at about 7 PM. We started strong and i told her all that had happened, both of us laughing hysterically at some events that had taken place previously in the run. After a few miles I felt myself mentally going dark. I felt tired. Very tired. The idea of running/walking 32 miles felt unfathomable, especially with how sleep deprived I felt. I asked Lauren if she thought I should take a dirt nap. She fed me some caffeine and said let's reevaluate in a little bit. I couldn't really talk and could barely run. Also, it had started raining sporadically. I closed my eyes as I was moving and realized I could fall asleep quite easily if necessary. I brought up the dirt nap again and Lauren said let's wait until we reach the halfway point. I was frustrated. Finally we crossed a few bridges, went up and down many stairs, and saw a huge rock that had some dirt underneath it. We took out our emergency blankets and I passed out for about 30 minutes. I felt sooooo much better when we got moving again. Sleeping really did wonders. But I was having a lot of trouble running so we mostly walked. Laurel Valley looked quite different inthe dark and going in the opposite direction. I didn't recognize most of it. But luckily I was in much better spirits and Lauren did an amazing job striking up conversations when she saw fit and knowing when I needed space. It started raining more as we reached the end- the section felt endless and took so long since we were mostly walking. We finally got to the parking area where Jordan was waiting at about 10:38 AM. I ate and hobbled down the road with Jordan, excited to start the final section. I couldn't really run- I could shuffle, but only sometimes and even that shuffle was sometimes the same speed as my walk. All in all Jordan did an incredible job pacing me. She gave me a lot of space in the beginning, which was a lot of climbing (1 was also kept entertained by my hallucinations). But after a few miles I was hit with the gut wrenching exhaustion where I could fall asleep if I just laid down. I told Jordan how tired I was and she engaged me in conversation. I felt much better as we talked and made our way to Sassafras Mountain. It was steadily raining, windy, and very foggy. We kept going and I started seeing apparitions in the fog. The leaves all had faces and personalities- sometimes they looked like photographs, other times Santa clauses. There were hooded figures, demons, flower people. It definitely made me entertained but also a confirmation of how tired I was. We tried running a bit. Finally we started descending. The last 4 miles are technical and beautiful. But my legs did not enjoy the technicality nor did my brain appreciate the beauty. When we had 2 miles left to go it started raining hard, thunder filled the sky, and we heard a tree cracking. We both got very nervous- it was cold and felt dangerous to be out there. Jordan said "I know you're hurting but we've got to go." I agreed wholeheartedly- my tired brain thought the shadow creatures had caused the storm and they were going to have a tree fall on me or something in order to kill me. So we ran- she was way ahead and out of sight and I felt scared because I saw the creatures all around me and didn't want to be alone with them. Finally Jordan called for me and waited for me- we had a mile left. Very close. There were some awful river crossings that normally would have been enjoyable had I not just run 150+ miles. We got to the beginning of the Foothills Trail and took a picture by the sign- Jordan had me turn my light off and right by my head was some sort of demon watching me and I didn't like that very much. Anyway we finished at about 615 PM and luckily had her camper van at table rock so had immediate access to a shower since I was so cold! This experience was incredible and this description doesn't do justice to everything I experienced/felt out there!!