Well, Chase the Sun Ultra and Relay is in the history books! This year’s race was as incredible as last year’s! This year’s runners, my gosh, did they push themselves hard! Last year, we had sunny skies with temps in the low 80s and light breezy conditions. This year, the race started off under dreary weather and it got worse before it got better. Early on, the rain and wind washed in on our timing tent knocking out my laptop and soaking the spreadsheet we were using as a redundancy for timing. Having a great timing team together we immediately improvised and began recording bib numbers on a white board as runners continued going through the chute. This created some inconsistencies in the splits of some runners on ultrasignup. We’ve also have had to update some discrepancies in mileage totals for some runners. The storm was severe enough that it blew over several tents and caused the collapse of other tents due to the weight of the heavy falling rain! Finally, we got the computer up and running miraculously again and the ultrasignup timing software came back up and we continued. As the day wore on the spreadsheet dried up and the weather improved. Ironically, the sun did not reveal itself until sunset as we were wrapping up Chase the Sun! It takes a certain kind of person and runner to show up to run for 6 and 12 hours under any conditions but under these very dreary weather conditions? That certainly takes a certain type of person! This Saturday’s CTS runners were all nothing short of amazing, impressive, spectacular (AIS)!! These guys ran and they ran and, they ran! Some ran even, though, they were obviously ill – (Missy Sailer & Emily McLaughlin). Both of these ladies pushed themselves beyond what I expected anyone to do so under the duress they were. Emily ended up having to go to the hospital to get an IV for calcium deficiency. Missy has suffered an upper respiratory infection for the past two weeks! What makes these people tick?
One thing I have come to know, runners are amazing people. Ultra runners, are crazy, overachieving types. This race, brought out the crazy, amazing and overachieving types for sure! For the 6 hour solo race, Malachi Williams and Bren Tompkins fought hard for the top spot. At the end, both finished with 24 laps and 44.88 miles each. Malachi crossed that threshold first, though, giving him the 1st place spot. The amazing, Mrs. Awesome Sara Maltby, clinched first place female with 22 laps and 41.14 miles. For the 12 hour solo race, things were equally intense as Mrs. Lara Zoeller and Mr. Thomas Olmstead fought for first place overall and, with Mr. Scott Horton not very far behind! In the end, there can only be One! Well, in this case, Lara and Thomas both finished with the same mileage,72.93 miles, but Mrs. Zoeller reached that surreal mileage number a good ten minutes before Mr. Olmstead. Mr. Horton finished the 12 hour solo with an immensely impressive 71.06 miles!
Lara Zoeller is truly one of the most impressive runners I have ever known! Every race I’ve witnessed her run in she has pushed beyond limits I didn’t think were humanly possible! At GSEC 24, she shattered the Georgia Women’s 24 hour record by running 133.184 miles! The prior women’s record for Georgia was 101 miles in 24 hours. At Delirium 24 hour ultra 2013, she ran 115 miles under very wet and muddy conditions. At the SC 24 hour race, she ran 109 miles even while she was terribly ill and had to take a two hour break from the race. This young lady is incredible! I’ve never known such a focused, strong-minded, determined runner like Mrs. Zoeller. It was a great honor for me to have her in CTS Ultra especially, this time around as this is Lara’s last year living in Savannah, Ga and, this is the last year that Chase the Sun Ultra will take place. I will be sure to keep up with Mrs. Zoeller’s running career when she moves to Washington DC at the end of this year.
The fight for the top coveted spot at CTS didn’t end with the 6 and 12 hour solo runners. The 6 and 12 hour relay teams showed up determined to maximize the number of miles in their respective races! In the end, Team Entourage, 6 hour relay led by Mr. Michael Butler clinched the honor of cranking out the most miles. The 12 hour relay race was seized upon early by Team RWB and they kept pushing and pushing ever widening their cushion of space until no one could challenge them.
This year’s CTS was again held in the beautiful, serene Whitemarsh Preserve on Whitemarsh Island. If you live in this area I highly recommend running at the Preserve! The live oaks and pines tower over you creating a large thick canopy that shades you from the sun. It’s interesting how on the trails you may not feel the rain on you until you exit that canopy of trees and enter the expansive clearing in the northeasterly section of the preserve where the start/finish line for CTS was at.
As you may know, Chase the Sun Ultra & Relay is the Savannah race for Liam’s Land. Liam’s Land is an honorable non-profit furthering the research and funding for lymphatic malformations. It was named after young master Liam, Joe and Janet Steffen’s son that was born with LM in 2010. Young Master Liam has experienced a great deal of surgeries to improve his quality of life but that has not dampened his spirit one bit! That little man was at the race bright and early and helped me kick off the runners at 7:05 am! After the race kick-off, YM Liam could be seen darting from one place to the next with water balloons in hand, jumping in and out of the kid pool we had out there and bouncing all around inside the bounce house we had available for the little ones! LM, lymphatic malformations, can be a very debilitating condition that if not addressed could prove fatal if not addressed. With Liam’s condition, he had difficulty breathing after being born. A tracheostomy had to made in Liam’s neck so he could breathe. Most of his young life, Liam, had that trach which limited what activities he could do. Last year, his trach was removed and he was finally able to experience the joy of splashing in the waves at the beach and swimming in a pool. Liam will grow up looking different than his peers and will likely have many more surgeries to deal with due to LM.
I believe in what Liam’s Land is doing and, I hope that one day we will know what causes LM and what can be done to prevent it from affecting another person. Although, Chase the Sun Ultra is being retired a new race will replace it as the Savannah race benefitting Liam’s Land. Speaking of benefitting Liam’s Land, Chase the Sun generated $1500.00 for this very worthy cause! Mother’s Run this Town took up a collection of several hundred dollars for Liam’s Land and, Fleet Feet Savannah ran a fundraiser at the store last Friday where they raised over $600 for Liam’s Land. All in all, Liam’s Land had a pretty darn good weekend, I would say! The running community is such a generous one! And, despite the rough weather we experienced this final chapter for Chase the Sun Ultra and Relay turned out to be a huge success thanks to the generosity of our running community and the selfless giving of the volunteers that made this race happen! I cannot end this blog without giving a shout out to the volunteers that gave up a Friday and Saturday to make Chase the Sun Ultra a wonderful success! Bigass Shout-out to the World Most Awesome Volunteers!
- Mark Waters: I don’t know what I would do without you in the races I’ve held so far! Thank you!
- Emily Ernst: My very lovely nemesis that jumps right into the mix of things and carries heavy coolers just like the guys, sets up tents, breaks them down, rises up at O-Dark-Thirty and manages the parking then runs to the aid station and sets it all up. And when she’s taking a break she’s actually buying pizzas for the runners and other volunteers! And, she even managed to squeeze in some miles pacing some of the runners. She even showed her better side to some very fortunate runners which I unfortunately missed out on. She certainly earned her mimosas that day! Thank you!
- Nelson Amos: This man is the human computer! He was a tremendous help with the timing. He was fast thinking and equally fast in responding! He can figure out splits faster than the computer can! Thank you!
- Bren Tompkins: Not only did he help set up the course of CTS, he also ran the six hour race, tied for first place and then stuck around until the end of this 12 hour event and helped out with the aid station and timing and, breaking down. That is what you call dedication! Thank you!
- Kerry Dulina and Michael Shelly Moody: these two fine folks drove into town, – one drove in from Richmond Hill, the other from Port Royal, SC and handled the packet pickup at Fleet Feet Savannah all day Friday. Thank you!
- Michelle Daniels: Despite her very busy schedule stopped by at the race and helped out at the aid station and timing for most of the day. Thank you!
- Tony Varney: also stopped by at the race early Saturday and helped out with the aid station and timing. Thank you!
- Takis Kiriakos and Lisa Rosenmeier: This awesome couple ran the Ymca 5k Saturday morning and then ran over to CTS and took care of our runners so well that many of the runners have contacted about how awesome Takis and Lisa were during the race! Thank you!
- Gregg Geiger, Molly Cohen and Stacie Pottenger: These three peeps stepped in and helped out tremendously in the timing! They allowed me time to go home and check on my dog, Mr. Gypsy and, gave me an opportunity to walk the course so that I could take pictures of the runners with my two gopros and Lumix GF2. So, we have lots of cool pictures because these three allowed me to get away from the timing tent to take pics! Thank you!
- Cecilia Arango: Thank you for starting us off right with your beautiful voice in the National Anthem!
I also want to give a Bigass Shout-out to our sponsors for making this race not only possible but more enriching!
- Fleet Feet Savannah: They are there always when needed. As a store goes, they provide all that you need for starting to run to getting right shoe for the veteran runner. They offer programs for beginner runners, intermediate runners and, programs for making fast runners even faster. They are behind practically every race in the Savannah including all Run 4 a Reason races. FF Sav has built a very strong running community that is not afraid of enlarging their game and tackling everything from a 1 mile run to a 100 miler! Thank you!
- Orange Mud: OM was very encouraging on social media, they provided their famous transition wrap towels, a hydraquiver, headbands, trucker running hat, a handheld and, 15% OM discounts for every registrant. Thank you!
- Neighborhood Realty: provided financial support. Thank you!
- Fabrika: provided financial support. Thank you!
- Celebritees: The gang at Celebritees provided the beautiful black running shirts each registered runner received at a tremendous discount! Thank you!
- Savannah Yoga Barre: provided a mid-day yoga session for our runners, volunteers and supporters! Thank you!
- Hammer Nutrition: provided gels, Heed, energy bars, Endurolytes for this event. I cannot say thank you enough to Hammer for they have been with me from the very first race I RD’d. Hammer has been an incredible loyal sponsor! Their hydration and fuels literally keep our runners going mile after mile, hour after hour! Thank you!
Lastly, I want to give a special shout-out to a group of ladies that have truly touched my heart. The Savannah chapter of Mothers Run this Town are made up of some of the finest human beings I know! These ladies juggle a lot! They are mothers and wives and athletes. They take care of their families’ needs, they run and still find the time to encourage and mother those around them. MRTT have been a part of everyone of my races as not only runners but volunteers and spectators. Always, they encourage and push hard! Before the race at O-Dark-Thirty they presented me with a very special gift that I sincerely treasure! A Huge thank you to Mothers Run this Town! I promise you that your gift will be displayed at every race I RD! Thank you!
Thank you all for making this year’s Chase the Sun such a wonderful, memorable experience! I am so fortunate and blessed to live among such outstanding people!
All the best to you and yours!