“Doubles” in racing parlance refer to two races that can be accomplished in one weekend. Lots of Marathon Maniacs and Fifty State Club members like doubles because they can fit two races in on one weekend and thus save on travel costs. Although I have done plenty of “back-to-back” races (on separate but consecutive weekends), I had not done a double until this past November.
On Saturday, November 13, I drove to Columbus, GA, and did the inaugural Soldier Marathon. This turned out to be an excellent new race, with a varied course that took participants through Ft. Benning, along the Chattahoochee River on the Riverwalk (even crossing to the Alabama side for a bit before heading back to Georgia), through downtown Columbus, and then finishing at the National Infantry Museum. The race began at the Museum as well, and one of the best things about this race is that we were allowed to stay inside the Museum on race morning to keep warm and use the restrooms. That was a real blessing. There were plenty of wonderful volunteers who stayed for the entire 7 hours at their posts directing runners and walkers and manning the aid stations. On the paths surrounded by woods on the army base during the first 5 miles or so, I had a deer cross right in front of me, and when I looked to my left, another fawn stood quietly, just staring at me. A wondrous sight! Nice medal, on a dogtag chain, and refreshments at the finish line. My time was 5:49:22, and I placed second in my age group. A few weeks after the race, I received an attractive placque recognizing my finish. I plan to do this race next year as well – it’s a real keeper.
After this race, I drove several hours to PeachTree City, GA, so I could do the Darkside Running Club’s 50 K the next morning. After a shower, meal, and good night’s rest, I was up early on Sunday to drive to nearby Luther Glass Park. This 50 K is one of the Darkside’s big events (they have several) and is very well-attended. The 50 K consists of 6 loops (plus a short out and back with each loop) that runs through the park, through 6 “tunnels” that go under the roads surrounding the park, and is very scenic and pleasant. I was familiar with the course because I had walked the Labor Day marathon held here back in September. Since I took the early start, it was dark but knowing the course details beforehand sure helped.
Truth was, I wasn’t sure how I would do on an ultra after just having completed a marathon the day before. My shins were hurting, probably from pounding 26.2 miles on pavement, but I finished the first loop without a problem. I was walking with 2 other walkers, including Vicki, a fast racewalker with great form, and was having to really work at keeping up with both of them. By the 2nd and 3rd loops, I decided to let them go on ahead, and I would just try to finish within the allotted time (9 ½ hours for early starters). Slowing down a little seemed to help. However, by loop 5, I began to feel better, and knowing I had just 2 loops to go spurred me on. I finished in 7:37 and was very pleased. I drove to a nearby shopping center, found a restroom, changed my clothes, and drove home. It was that 6+ hour drive that nearly did me in!