Running as fast as you can, diving into a moving car, speeding over forest service roads, sweating bullets and constantly watching to see if anyone is catching up. No, it’s not a hillbilly version of Grand Theft Auto, it’s the most fun possible way to run 57 miles, also known as Mt. Misery Madness.
I had heard about Mt. Misery Madness for years. It is a relay race from Asotin, WA to Troy, OR over mostly forest service roads. The route climbs to over 6,000 feet elevation, its about 35 miles up and 20 miles down. I determined that this would be the year to enter the competition.
Compiling the team required weeks of research and communication. An add was placed on Facebook reading, “In need of runners to cover great distances at intervals over uneven roads while breathing mostly dust. You must pay in order to render your services. Certain acclaim and instant glory to be gained for survivors. $15 extra for a T-shirt” With careful screening, I settled on a group of five topflight athletes who were kind enough to indulge me by running the relay.
The final group included:
Jeremy Chatelain: lanky young downhill specialist
Jeron Chatelain: calculating, precise and steely-nerved at the wheel of a Chrysler
Roberta Carr: our long-distance specialist and multi-marathoner (also my sister)
Jeremy Carr: enough strength to front squat the rest of the team at once (three reps)
Andy Forth: our ringer and true road warrior
and of course me: slow at even the shortest of distances and always able to find something to complain about
We ran very short legs (there are no official points to change runners, rather teams get to decide how far each member will go). Consequently, we arrived to the car in short order after beginning a leg of running and were allowed to recover. The only natural way to recover from such vigorous activity is to reach for the water bottle and guzzle. Such a recovery strategy led to constant filling of water bottles and emptying of bladders. There were several all-team roadside relievers (which excluded poor Roberta for obvious reasons).
Having only recruited fun people and myself, morale remained high in spite of the harrowing conditions. A radical discovery was made with only 10 miles to go we had overestimated the time it would take us by nearly two hours. The women and children meeting us at the end of the course were sure to miss our triumphal saunter into Troy. Fortunately, due to the vast and widespread coverage of the Verison network, we were able to pass word to them to make haste in traveling to Oregon. The discovery convinced us of our running prowess and bolstered morale all the more.
I think only the crew of Shackleton’s Endurance could know the extent of the difficulty of such an undertaking. Shackleton’s men spent a year in the Antarctic icepack and seas with only the safety of the rations they were able to salvage from their ship crushed by the ice floes. We spent six hours on a Saturday taking turns running. A bust of Shakleton was placed on Elephant Island where his men spent time awaiting a rescue party, and similarly, we each received medals.