Brandon and I ran this together as a training run. We followed unsupported rules and carried everything from the start except for water filtered along the way. I came into this run with 40 miles w/ 2k vert for the week and Brandon with 70 miles w/ 12k. Definitely not the most rested legs going into this but that was the point. I ran this loop this time last year in 17:57 hrs with a group of friends so knowing the loop this loop, our goal was to run sub 12.
We started at Woody Gap at 7:49 am with a later planned start due to snow/ice, mid 20's temps and howling wind at the gap. We were in 2-4" of snow along the whole 1st AT section and a good 10 miles into the run before the trail started to clear. There were a few blow downs coming down to HWY 130 but nothing major.
My hip had started bothering me some at this point but was hoping it would go away as I warmed up. Around mile 15 Brandon took a fall due to snow and hit his ankle hard on a rock. It caused some small bleeding and swelling to start but the worst of it was that his favorite Swiftwick socks now had a huge hole in them...
We did take the new DRT reroute to follow the FS rules and this is where I noticed my hip was really bothering me. I was only able to keep sub 11 min pace on this section knowing I should be running a lot faster. My hip continued to hurt the entire way along with his ankle.
We made it down to HWY 60 in 6:34 hrs spent 10-12 mins filtering water and adjusting our food for the back half.
Around mile 35 the nausea started kicking in, a overload of sugar in gels and chews I'm guessing. The rocky decent down into Cooper's Gap took a toll on both my hip and his ankle. It made for very slow miles on the last runnable sections.
On the climb leaving Gooch Gap, Brandon's headlamp started to die which lead to us hiking in the last 2 miles. We were able to take 3:30 hrs of my time last year and drop the unsupported fkt by 50 mins. With a few of these mishaps going our way next time, we are confident to go sub 12 next time but that is how it goes.
Start- 7:49 am
DRT- 1:36 hrs
HWY 180- 2:11 hrs
Mulky Gap- 3:38. hrs
HWY 60- 6:34
BMT/AT connector- 9:43 hrs
Cooper Gap- 11:51
Gooch Gap- 13:14