A Run thru the Woods 2015 Recap


A Run thru the woods 10k turned out to be a very fun event.  We had 37 runners show up and run the course and 10 DNS.  The run was capped at 50 runners.

For a technical trail run through single-track rooty trails the runners did incredibly well.  I didn’t hear of too many wipe-outs.  And fortunately, the few wipe-outs we experienced were more ego bruising than skin bruising.  The top three runners were pretty darn fast for such a winding, single-track root trail too!

Mrs. Sara Maltby and bigfoot
Mrs. Sara Maltby and bigfoot

This race marked a second successful pairing between Mrs. Sara Maltby and I.  The first time she and I worked together was on the Armadillo Broil 50k this past summer.  For this race, Sara was the race director and I was the co-rd.  She did a phenomenal job.  Not only is Sara an amazing, gifted runner but an awesome RD.  I look forward to working with her on more races in the future.

Kerry Dulina, 1st place female
The lovely Mrs. Kerry Dulina, 1st place female

The top three males and females were:


  1. Ryan Smith of Savannah, Ga, finish time: 40:37
  2. Matt Foley of Savannah, Ga, finish time: 41:28
  3. Bren Tompkins of Savannah, Ga, finish time: 43:00


  1. Kerry Dulina of Richmond Hill, Ga, finish time: 49:11
  2. Jane Floyd of Savannah, Ga, finish time: 56:43
  3. Kelly Leonard of Guyton, Ga, finish time: 1:01:25

The rest of the results can be viewed at ultrasignups site: run thru the woods 10k results

The top male and female got to choose the charity to donate the proceeds of this race from.  Now mind you, this race was small and literally made on a shoe string budget.  Yet, the race, after all expenses were covered generated roughly $150.00.

Contribution made to Girls on the Run on behalf of Ryan Smith
Contribution made to Girls on the Run on behalf of Ryan Smith

Of that $150.00 Mr. Ryan Smith chose to donate his $75 split to Girls on the Run.  Mrs. Kerry Dulina chose to donate her $75 split to Save our Rails to Trails.   Thank you both for choosing such worthy causes!  Hopefully, for next year’s run thru the woods we can generate more interest and support and have a bigger bounty to donate.

Our volunteers were second to none!  As always, the volunteers are the difference that makes a race great!  I am so very thankful for everyone that helped bring this race to fruition!

Brian Garvin, one of our great volunteers!
Brian Garvin, one of our great volunteers!

Our great volunteers were: Cealan Clifford, Brian Garvin, Rob Reed.  You guys are awesome!  Thank you all so very much!

A run thru the woods was a very fun run with a very silly story line behind it.  If you haven’t read the story behind this run, here it is: Stikman Lore.  Stikman dba, Bigfoot, was integral to a run thru the woods and was sighted more than a few times by more runners than not!  I doubt that any other race in this US of A can boast of more Bigfoot sightings as our little 10k thru the Whitemarsh woods has.

Next year’s race brings a twist to the Stikman saga…Bigfoot vs Krampus! You won’t want to miss next year’s race!  It will be full of all kinds of drama! Again, it will only be 50 total runners.  This race will never be bigger than that.

breakfast after the race
breakfast after the race

Thank you all for making a run thru the woods such a fondly memorable event!

May you all have a very happy holiday season!

Be good cuz Krampus is coming!



find your center
find your center


Public Meeting 11/17-Highway 80/City of Tybee (Bike/Walking/Running Lanes) We need runners & cyclists to attend)

I would like to see some pathways leading underneath highway that allow turtles safe passage from one side of the highway to the other
I would like to see some pathways leading underneath highway that allow turtles safe passage from one side of the highway to the other

Here is an important note from Christina Dolan, an environmental specialist with Ecological Planning Group regarding the proposed expansion of highway 80 to Tybee Island.

Please try to make this meeting if possible and let your voice be heard whether in sport or against.




From: Christina Dolan [mailto:tcdolan2@yahoo.com]

Subject: Public Meeting 11/17-Highway 80/City of Tybee

Hello all-

On Tuesday November 17th, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will be hosting an open house from 4-6 pm at the Tybee City Hall to seek public comments regarding the proposed changes to Highway 80, including the planned replacements of both Bull River and Lazaretto Creek bridges.  (You may attend at any time during those hours. There will be no formal presentation.)   The public notice is attached and may also be viewed athttp://www.dot.ga.gov/BS/Projects/SR26US80. If you can’t make the meeting, GDOT will accept public comments through December 1, 2015.  If you have questions for GDOT or wish to submit comments, please see the attached file for the appropriate GDOT contact.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the proposed expansion of Highway 80 and replacements of these bridges leading to Tybee Island.  Obviously this is controversial in nature and everybody has their own ideas of what should/shouldn’t happen.  Some people want a 4-lane, some don’t, some want the bridges replaced, some don’t, etc.  With the recent accident on Highway 80, there’s been more public scrutiny regarding this project and some recent articles in the newspaper.  The quick summary of the project (as least as far as I know, but I’m certainly not an authority on this subject) is that GDOT is currently considering improvements to Highway 80 and replacing both Bull River and Lazaretto Creek Bridges (info below from the MPO study that explains this in greater detail).

If you have an opinion on this subject, please consider coming to the meeting and/or submitting comments to GDOT.  It’s important that GDOT hear from a variety of different citizens and organizations to understand what there is, and isn’t, public support for with regards to this project.

I’m attaching some information below about this project to give you some background information that is available to the public.  In case you are wondering what my affiliation with this project is, I work for Ecological Planning Group (EPG), a private environmental consulting firm.  I am not affiliated with GDOT (or the City of Tybee) nor am I trying to start a petition or anything of that nature-I’m simply sharing that this meeting is happening and inviting those that may be interested to voice their opinions, whatever those may be.

My company, EPG, has been assisting Chatham County with trail design and planning efforts to provide more walking/biking trails in this area.  Extending the existing McQueens Islands trail to Tybee Island has long been a dream of various organizations and planning efforts in this area for quite some time (as well as mine, frankly, both from a personal and professional standpoint), but it has always been hampered by various impediments, including the bridges leading to Tybee Island, what will/won’t happen with Highway 80, and obviously by the expense and environmental implications associated with trail development, land acquisition, etc.    With the  GDOT’s proposed plan to replace the bridges leading to Tybee Island, it does open up opportunities in the near future to connect the existing McQueens trail (by extending it across Fort Pulaski-owned lands) to the new/future Lazaretto Creek Bridge (which is currently proposed to include a separated path on the side for bikes/walkers), making the “dream” to more safely bike/walk from Wilmington Island to Tybee Island more feasible.

If GDOT sees that there is public support for a separate walking/biking path leading to Tybee Island (and not just relying on paved shoulders adjacent to the road for biking whenever they make improvements-whatever those may be-to Highway 80 and the Bridges), it stands a greater chance of becoming a reality.

Whatever your feelings about the proposed project may be, I invite you to take the time to consider what you would like to see happen with this project and submit your comments to GDOT and/or attend the public meeting.

Below is some additional information that you can use to research the history of this project, if you want to know more.

Background Information-CORE MPO Study

The Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (CORE MPO) conducted a planning study from 2010-2012 to examine the needs and possible alternatives for this corridor and GDOT is using the results/recommendations from the MPO’s study as a baseline for their ongoing planning efforts. The MPO study, titled US 80 Bridges Replacement Study, is available at http://www.thempc.org/Transportation/US80BridgesStudy.html.  There is a 3-page executive summary that you can read that summarizes the study’s scope and results.

The MPO’s study recommended “Alternative 3” as the best option for moving forward (and this is what GDOT is currently planning), which included replacing the existing bridges (w/2 lane bridges with an 10-foot barrier separated path and 10’ bikable shoulders); roadway improvements (widening existing road to accommodate a 10-foot paved bikable shoulder-which could act as an evacuation lane in event of an emergency); road restriping to allow for left and right turn lanes; and construction of an 18-space parking area at the entrance to McQueen’s Island Trail.

An earlier proposal for a 4-lane road expansion w/bikable shoulders was not approved and is not currently being evaluated by GDOT at this time as far as known.

Thanks for your time.  Your voice and opinions (whatever those may be)-counts-

Christina Dolan
Environmental Specialist
(912) 604-2871
Ecological Planning Group, LLC

McQueen’s Island Trail and the Savannah Rails to Trails Ultra 2016


Title Sponsor
Title Sponsor

The 4th annual Savannah Rails to Trails with Ledesma Sports Medicine as the Title Sponsor is just around the corner!  Since 2013, we have held this race the second Saturday of January.  In 2016, that second Saturday of January falls on the 9th.

Holding this race has been a great and exciting experience to me.  This is the race that started the momentum for the restoration of the McQueen’s Island Historical Trail.  This is the race that brought the first ultra running event to Savannah.  This is the race that many of our local ultra runners chose as their first ultra to run!


In recent years, the McQueen’s Island Trail (RTT) has been impacted quite severely by the elements.  Some voices in the community have stated that nature should be allowed to claim the trail.  And, there are other voices that have clearly stated that the trail should be saved and restored as it constitutes a remnant of our past along with a unique glimpse of our natural coastal beauty.  This narrow strip of land which is almost six miles long and in sections only ten feet across offers not only a glimmer of the history of the Lowcountry but also offers an oasis that is teeming with wildlife for the runner, cyclist, hiker, fisherman and naturalist that  ventures upon the trail.

these are just a few of the critters that call the McQueen's Island trail home!
these are just a few of the critters that call the McQueen’s Island trail home!

This trail was originally a railroad bed linking Savannah to Tybee Island.  In the 1990s it became the very first Rails to Trails project in the state of Georgia.

Mr. Francis Kwok flew in from Brooklyn, NY to run the Savannah R2T 50k in 2015.
Mr. Francis Kwok flew in from Brooklyn, NY to run the Savannah R2T 50k in 2015.

The plight of this trail brought a community of runners together from all parts of the country – Georgia, of course but also, North and South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Virginia and as far away as Washington and California, Texas, Illinois and New York.  For the 2015 race, we had a runner come from the Netherlands to run the Savannah R2T 50k.

proposed signage
proposed signage
proposed signage
proposed signage

The Savannah Rails to Trails Ultra has generated $10,000.00 for the McQueen’s Island trail restorative efforts.  We are currently in the process of using the proceeds from the 2015 and 2016 races to purchase the signs for the trail.  The signs have been designed by Christine Powell and nicely share the history of the trail, the wildlife that call the trail home and mile markers from start to end.

proposed signage
proposed signage
proposed signage
proposed signage

Please consider joining us on January 9th.  There is a distance for everyone.  The Savannah Rails to Trails offers a 50k, 25k, 12k and a 50k relay.  Every finisher gets a pretty sweet medal and a race shirt.  Awards will be given out to the top 3 male and female runners of each distance race. The course is a beautiful 7.75 mile loop that takes you around Fort Pulaski across a bridge spanning the southern channel of the Savannah River and an out and back on the McQueen’s island trail.  Running this loop you are running through approximately 175 years of Savannah history including the old fortress which was severely pounded by the Union in 1862 with their new technology of rifled canons.

Finisher’s medal

The Savannah Rails to Trails is a unique race where southern charm, history and natural beauty converge seamlessly.   So, come down and make a weekend of Savannah, crank out some miles, explore Fort Pulaski after your run and then hit downtown Savannah Saturday evening for some good food and beer or, wine.  You’ll totally dig this run and exploring Savannah.  I promise you that!

Maranda Lynn
Maranda Lynn, little sister from Charleston, SC

If interested in being a sponsor, please know that R4R offers a pretty diverse set of sponsor packages and will gladly customize it to meet your organization’s needs.


Thanks for stopping by.




Richmond Hill’s 1st Ultra, RH Armadillo Broil, Was a Hit!

Beverley English running her first ultra.
Beverley English running her first ultra.

The inaugural Armadillo Broil is behind us now.  It went well although, we did have some glitches with timing.  The race started on time, right at 7:00 am and the last runner crossed the finish line just before 4:00 pm.  It was hot and it was muggy but the runners ran strong and each demonstrated what awesome truly is.

Again, the volunteers were the difference between success and failure.  The race succeeded because of the amazing volunteers we had at the Broil!  Also, it cannot go without mention that Sara Maltby, the Co-Director of the race exceeded all expectations!  She was even the first place 25k female!  That lady is quite the overachiever.  I could not have executed this run without her.  She was my right hand.

There were the sponsors that came out and exceeded my expectations as well.  Ron and Sandra Elliot, owners of Georgia Game Changers, brought their balloon arch, food for the runners, music and hard work to the Broil.  I am so very grateful for their sponsorship and strong involvement in the Broil! They exceeded my expectations by a long shot!  I wish more sponsors were this hands on at the races.

Overall 50k winner, Taryn Guimento
Overall 50k winner, Taryn Guimento

First Command was another sponsor that totally went all out!  They not only contributed financially to the race but had a strong presence there and even provided watermelon, frisbees, water bottles and held a raffle for a $100 Game Changers gift card.

Then, there was the Orange Mud presence!  OM has been a part of all of R4R races since May 2014.  We raffled off an OM transition towel and several OM headbands.  Everyone wanted that transition towel!


And then, there was our beneficiary, Mission on the Move,  a wonderful charity doing amazing work with children in Mexico, Guatemala and Africa.  MoM showed up and was with us at the race most of the day.  Some of the missionaries from Tapachula, Mexico were at the race and offered a unique perspective to what kind of work MoM is doing there.  The two missionaries presented me with a wonderful cooking book they put together of recipes from the Tapachula area.  In return we presented a check for $1500 to MoM at the race.  Not bad for a first time ultra race in a small town in the hottest time of the year!

All in all, it was a lot of hard work putting this race together but it came together due to the hard work and energy of so many people!  I am so grateful to all of the volunteers, the sponsors, Sara Maltby, the Mission on the Move people – especially, Rebecca Shealy!  Ms. Shealy introduced me to MoM representatives which coincidentally is her mother and, to the missionaries from Tapachula.

25k winners, Sean Keefe and Sara Maltby
25k winners, Sean Keefe and Sara Maltby

Putting together this race was a true joy!  It’s been the first race I’ve held where I haven’t felt overwhelmed and stressed out leading up to it.  Again, that is due to the amazing group of people that helped out with this race!

The top three males and females of each race were awarded and, everyone that completed their respective race received a finisher’s medal.

Due to the heat and humidity this was a very tough race.  Those of you that stuck to it and finished should be very proud!  This was a tough event!

Here is the breakdown of the runners that finished first, second and third in the 50k

  •  Taryn Guimento, 1st place overall, 1st place female.  Finish time: 4:07:05
  • Lara Zoeller, 2nd place female, 2nd place overall.  Finish time: 4:23:05
  • Jay Sweatt, 1st place male, 3rd place overall.  Finish time: 4:42:55
  • Andy Bruner, 2nd place male, 4th place overall.  Finish time: 4:58:55
  • Kerry Dulina, 3rd place female, 5th place overall.  Finish time: 5:22:50
  • Daniel Ott, 3rd place male, 6th place overall.  Finish time: 5:26:00

Here’s the breakdown for the first, second and third 25k finishers…

  • Sean Keefe, 1st place male, 1st place overall.  Finish time: 1:46:54
  • Sara Maltby, 1st place female, 2nd place overall. Finish time: 1:47:40
  • Matthew Lapaglia, 2nd place male, 3rd place overall.  Finish time: 2:01:33
  • Tim Waz, 3rd place male, 4th place overall.  Finish time: 2:17:54
  • Pamela Howe, 2nd place female, 5th place overall.  Finish time: 2:20:56
  • Jon Barrows, 3rd place male, 6th place overall.  Finish time: 2:23:40
  • Sandra Elliott, 3rd place female, 7th place overall.  Finish time: 2:24:26.

The results can be accessed by the links below:

Sandra Elliott, 3rd place female of the 25k and sponsor of Armadillo Broil via Georgia Game Changers
Sandra Elliott, 3rd place female of the 25k and sponsor of Armadillo Broil via Georgia Game Changers

Many thanks to all that played a part in this inaugural run!  We hope you will consider joining us for next year race!  This is a beautiful location for a run and southern hospitality of Richmond Hill is outstanding!




The Coastal Georgia Greenway 155 Mile Ultra Run Challenge


Last year I concocted a new challenge for myself and managed to recruit a few friends to join in the mayhem.  I called it the Coastal Georgia Greenway 155 Ultra.  I scheduled this challenge for the weekend of April 19th, 2015.  When that date finally rolled around three friends and I embarked on a running journey from St. Mary’s, Georgia (which is on the southern coastal border of our green state) to Savannah, Ga (which is on our northeastern coastal border of Georgia).  We decided that completing this task in 48 hours was doable.

To make a long story short, of the four of us that started in St. Mary’s on Friday, April 17th; only two finished.  The two finishers’ were Karl Joseph and John Durant.  I did not finish it.

Spring of 2016, I’m giving it another shot with a bigger (well, leaner), better and much improved me.  In the mean time, I have taken a moment to acknowledge the amazing accomplishment made by John Durant and Karl Joseph.

Karl Joseph with his plaque and CGGU 155 certificate of completion
John Durant with his plaque and CGGU 155 certificate of completion

These two gentlemen showed what strength and honor are all about.  They endured tremendous hardship as they ran their way up the CGG.  Forty-four hours after starting this challenge both of these men completed this journey on Hutchinson Island, just across the Savannah River overlooking River Street.  To my knowledge, these two gentlemen are the very first to run the 155 mile Coastal Georgia Greenway from St. Mary’s to Savannah!

This journey was not a race but simply a challenge.  At the end of the run there was no elaborate finish line, loud music, nor cheering spectators.  The run ended on a lonely, chilly, rainy Sunday morning at the steps leading to the Savannah River front and the International Trade Center.  We (the crew) congratulated these gentlemen and took some pictures.  We all then headed our way back to our worlds.

The CGG is the brain child of Jo Claire Hickson who’s working on uniting existing trail systems with new trail systems up the entire coast of Georgia.  This is a huge work in progress but Ms. Hickson is the type of visionary that can see this project through.  So, at the time of this writing about 80% of the CGG is on highway 17 and state road 99.  The remaining 20% is on paved and unpaved trails off the highways and traversing small quaint southern towns.  The course takes you through nine towns and 15 jurisdictions.  The nine towns are: St. Mary’s, Woodbine, Kingsland, Brunswick, Darien, Riceboro, Midway, Richmond Hill and Savannah.

Jo Claire Hickson
Jo Claire Hickson

I would like to make the CGGU 155 a race but trying to securely manage a 155 mile run where 80% of it is on highways is more than I want to take on.  Some of the roads and shoulders you have to run on are pretty hairy.  It is definitely a worthwhile, doable venture but you have to be very mindful and careful running on highway 17 and route 99 especially, at night.  Managing the logistics for such an event to ensure first and foremost the safety of runners would be so very challenging, to say the least.  Perhaps, when the CGG is 80% off the highways that may be the time to make it into a race.

For now, I’m proposing to make the CGGU 155 a challenge for anyone up for it to run the CGG from St. Mary’s to Hutchinson Island, Savannah, Ga.  You do it on your own, at your own pace, for your own reason(s), – assuming all responsibilities for your own safety and that of those crewing you.

After you complete the 155 mile journey I will give you a plaque and certificate of completion…that is, if you want something like that.

What the certificate looks like.  It is printed on 8x11 65lb card stock
What the certificate looks like. It is printed on 8×11 65lb card stock


If that sounds cool to you and you would like acknowledgement from Run 4 a Reason for having run and completed the CGG 155 Ultra Run you must do the following…

  1. $25 money order or payment through paypal payable to Run 4 a Reason (dlh14255@gmail.com).  This money will be used for one of two things, to make your plaque and certificate if you complete the challenge & to mail it to you.  If you don’t complete the challenge the entire $25 will be donated to the Coastal Georgia Greenway 501c3 organization headed by Ms. Jo Claire Hickson.  If you complete the full 155 mile run you will get your plaque and certificate within 4 weeks of the completion of your run.
  2. You assume all risks of running the CGG.  There are long stretches of highway that have to be spanned during the day and night.  You may encounter a variety of critters along the way that may want to cause you harm – among those, snakes, wasps, mosquitoes, alligators, crazy people, drunks, black bears, ill-tempered deer.  Of course, there are lots of cars and trucks on the roads of the CGG.  R4R will not be responsible for anything that may befall you during this challenge.  If you are still cool with this then please continue to #3…
  3. You must prove that you ran the entire CGG.  That means, you must produce pictures (should have gps enable tracking), videos, call and leave voice mails when you reach certain milestones along the way.  Your voice mail should state your name, location, date, time you reached that location.
  4. You shall start in St. Mary’s, Ga. at the Howard Gilmore Waterfront Memorial Park and you conclude your run on Hutchinson Island, Ga after having run one loop around the race track on that island and finishing up on the steps leading to the Savannah River and the International trade center.
  5. Thirty days from when you finish your CGGU journey you are kindly asked to submit an essay on what this experience was like and meant to you.  I’m not looking for a formal essay with proper grammar and spelling – (you’re not being graded).  I’m just looking for a short write up on what this experience was like to you.  It will be posted on this website!

Again, these five steps are only necessary if you want recognition from Run 4 a Reason for having run the CGGU 155.  If you do not care to have recognition from R4R that is totally cool and, I hope you have an excellent adventure and experience! :)


Regardless of how you choose to run the CGGU 155 (with recognition from R4R or not) you may find this detailed course beneficial for your journey: cggu155-mapStuff
I broke down the course into county sections. It’s easier for me to wrap my head around this distance that way. Look it over and do not hesitate to contact me for clarification on any part of it.
Again, the Coastal Georgia Greenway is a cool and ambitious project and if you decide to run it I wish you much success and safety along the way. And, if you want recognition from R4R then follow the instructions aforementioned.

cggu-b cggu-c cggu-d cggu-e cggu-fcggu-gang cggu-gcggu-h cggu-i cggu-j cggu-kcggu-l cggu-m cggu-n

May you have a great experience!

Enjoy the journey!




Savannah Grit 2015 Recap

2015 Overall Savannah Grit winner, Sara Maltby. She won every stage and finished in 21 hours and 27 minutes.
2015 Overall Savannah Grit winner, Sara Maltby. She won every stage and finished in 21 hours and 27 minutes.

The Savannah Grit 175k was a very ambitious race project, no doubt.  That we were able to pull it off was quite amazing!  Then again, I had a great team working with me.  Becky Walters as the Co-Race Director along with the Volunteer Dream Team, how could we go wrong? The Grit, as I refer to it for short, is a four stage three day stage running race.  Each stage is in a different location around the greater Savannah area and almost entirely on trails.  The distances for each stage varied greatly starting at a 100 kilometer run for the first stage and ending with a 1 mile run for stage 4.

The Grit is loosely based on the Tour de France model where runners compete in different terrains on different days and varying distances.  The winners of the race are the runners (male and female) with the lowest cumulative time of all four stages combined. Runners are encouraged to sign up in teams of four but can register as solo runners.  The male and female stage winners are awarded yellow running caps while runner ups are awarded blue running caps.  There is a special pink running cap that is awarded to a male or female runner that wins every stage.  The runner (male and female) and, team that has the lowest overall combined teammate’s times of all four stages wins the Grit.

Winning Grit team, Shut up and Drink your Beer
Winning Grit team, Shut up and Drink your Beer

The team that wins the Grit is awarded black running caps for each teammate.  An interesting aspect to the Grit is that although runners in a team are competing as a team to win together under the team category they are also competing against each other.  So, a runner from a team can be the one that not only contributes to his team for a win but may win the Grit overall as a solo runner.  And, that happened in this year’s Grit with John Dailey finishing first overall male and his team winning the Grit in the team category.

2015 Savannah Grit Buckle
2015 Savannah Grit Buckle

This being a three day, four stage event the runners that complete every stage at the end of the Grit will each have run 109.74 miles and earn a pretty killer buckle.  And, “earn” is the key word as the Grit is anything but easy.  Even if you don’t win any stages nor hats, you still earn a badass buckle if you finish every stage!  Earning this buckle is no joke!  This year’s Grit had a 50% failure rate.  This is a tough race!  You have to work hard to finish the Grit.

Mr. Glen Leckman at the third stage turn around.
Mr. Glen Leckman at the third stage turn around.

In this inaugural Grit race there was one runner that finished every stage dead last but he earned a buckle by completing all four stages of the Grit in 38 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds.  This runner, Mr. Glen Leckman, showed tremendous grit and resolve and, he was 64 years old at the time of the Grit.

The 2015 Grit took place in four different locations around the greater Savannah area.

The real Wonder Woman, Mrs. Sara Maltby
The real Wonder Woman, Mrs. Sara Maltby

Several times before the Grit took place I made the statement that I didn’t think anyone would ever get a pink hat, the most coveted hat of the Grit.  Well, Mrs. Sara Maltby made me eat my words by winning every stage and being not just 1st female overall but by finishing the Grit in 21 hours, 27 minutes and 12 seconds, taking first place overall!  The closest finish time to hers was 24 hours, 10 minutes and 5 seconds by the relentlessly forward moving, Mr. John Dailey.

Mr. John Dailey, 1st place overall male.
Mr. John Dailey, 1st place overall male.

I had the opportunity to run in the Grit (at least part of it) due to the tremendous help I received from Mrs. Becky Walters who assumed responsibility of the Grit on race day.  I toed the line with the 30 other crazy Grit runners at Whitemarsh Island for stage 1 and at Tom Triplett Park for Stage 2.  Becky Walters, an experienced ultra runner and Race Director proved herself indispensable.  She ran a tight ship with intelligence, wit, calm demeanor and grace.  The Grit would not have worked without Mrs. Walters.

Becky Walters with daughter.
Mrs. Becky Walters with daughter.

Getting the permits and insurance liability for each location was tedious work.  Nailing down locations for the Grit stages was tiring but we continued to push until we got everything we wanted for this race.  I guess it’s safe to say this now that the race is over with but I did not have Whitemarsh Island Preserve and Tom Triplett Community Park nailed down until Wednesday, May 21st, just two days before the start of the Grit.  There was a lot of bureaucracy, phone tag and unanswered emails to contend with until almost the last moment.  Also, we almost changed the final stage location because there was no one to open the gates to Wormsloe at 7:00 am Monday morning as was scheduled.  Changing the final stage location was going to be a tough call.  To me, Wormsloe is critical to the Grit.  I cannot see the Grit finishing anywhere else other than at Wormsloe.  So, as the clock continued to tick well past 7:00 am some of our runners were beginning to get antsy and so was I!  Becky approached me and quietly stated that we should perhaps seek a different location for the one mile sprint because it was now 7:30 with no sign of anyone to open the gates to Wormsloe.  I looked at her disappointingly knowing that she was right.  We could not continue to keep the runners waiting for the gates to open at Wormsloe.  Reluctantly, I jumped in her truck and we drove a half mile up the road and marked a tree as the turn around for the 1 mile run, outside of Wormsloe.  As Providence would have it, on our return to Wormsloe the gates were being opened!  The Grit would finish where I wanted it to!

Mr. Caleb Steedley, all alone and bringing it home during stage 4, 1 mile run at Wormsloe
Mr. Caleb Steedley, all alone and bringing it home during stage 4, 1 mile run at Wormsloe

So, we gathered our runners and moved them one mile up the main entrance drive-thru at Wormsloe.  At almost 8:00 am, we kicked off the final stage!  And, what I expected to be a nice leisurely ceremonial one mile run down the surreal tree draped road through Wormsloe turned into an outright race to the finish with Mr. Caleb Steedley breaking away from the pack and bringing it home in 6 minutes flat!

The Grit was full of surprises.  For an inaugural 3 day stage race (or I should say, 2.1 days) we had more runners than I expected.  I thought, if lucky, we’ll have 20 runners.  We had 35 registered runners start the Grit.  Thirty of those were registered for the full Grit.  That was a huge commitment from our runners and I did not want to disappoint them.

The Grit turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated.  Breaking up 109.74 miles over 2.1 days seemed a gentle way of getting runners to log a lot of miles but I learned quickly that there is no gentle way of logging 100+ miles in a weekend.  It’s tough work…as it should be.  We would not be ultra runners if the distances we went after were easy and, with no struggle.  Ultra running is about a struggle…and, overcoming the struggle, both mentally and physically.  In the ultra world, earning a buckle is a big deal.  It should not come easy.  And, the Grit was anything but easy.

The Grit had it’s moments of great distress, disillusionment, disappointment and a heavy dose of harsh reality…but it also had it’s moments of great fun and camaraderie.  There is a point in every challenge we take on where we have to get very real with ourselves and be brutally honest.  At some point, any of us that take on great challenges have to ask ourselves along a lonely dusty path, should I continue?  It’s not an easy question to ask.  The answer can be heart-wrenching.  The consequences of that answer will weigh heavily upon us possibly for a very long time.  Half of the Grit runners faced that dilemma.  I, faced that dilemma.  After proudly finishing the first stage of the Grit, I called it quits during the second stage after logging 13 miles.  Doing the math, I realized that I was not going to finish the 50k stage in time for the third stage.  I might add that the stage 3 course was not yet marked.  So, with great disappointment, I threw in the towel and rushed to the Roberd’s Dairy farm to mark the stage 3 course.  It’s not the end of the world but it was disappointing nevertheless.  For others it was worse…for one reason they traveled a great distance to come to Savannah for this race.  No one likes to travel from afar and then not succeed in fulfilling their goal.  It’s a tough pill to swallow.  But as a friend of mine commented to me upon my failure to finish the Coastal Georgia Greenway 155 last April…”we choose to do difficult shit.  We are bound to fail from time to time.”  That’s true in my case.  I am the king of failure…it sucks but, it’s true.

The most awesome group of volunteers ever!
The most awesome group of volunteers ever!

The volunteers at the Savannah Grit were the cream of the crop, the icing on the cake!  They were the shiz!  There are many aspects to what makes a race good but the overall success of a race In my view, rests squarely on the shoulders of volunteers.  The volunteers are the front line of every race.  A selfless, cheerful volunteer can make such an incredible impact on a runner.  They can be the one that makes the difference in that runner’s world.  I know this because I have experienced this.  At the Grit, the volunteers went beyond all my expectations and delivered in a way that I am just astounded!  I can honestly say that they took care of me as I ran lap after lap on the first day of the Grit.  Every time I finished a loop a smiling and uplifting volunteer would take my water bottle and refill it with either water or gatorade, would ask how I’m doing, if I needed anything and cheered me on.  After I was out of the Grit as a runner I witnessed first hand how these volunteers went the extra mile and then, went another mile with our runners.  I was truly moved and inspired!

These are the names of the volunteers that made the difference at the Grit!  They are awesome in every possible way!  I am so grateful to each of them.  I am so touched by their selflessness and commitment to each runner at the Grit.  Each of these fine folks are the cream of the crop and I will always be indebted to each of them.  I sincerely thank each of you for being awesome and wonderful!  You guys rock!  David Dowling, Michelle Vail, Paul Frasioli, Brian Luckett, Kelly Luckett, Jennifer Canady, Richelle Southwick, Jennifer Smith, Beverly English, Tasha Asselin, Verity Owens, Jo Owens, Pamela Howe.  They went beyond all my expectations.  I sincerely thank each of you!  You all made the difference.

My gratitude also extends to the Grit’s two very excellent sponsors, Josh Sprague of Orange Mud and Vincent Antunez of Trail Toes! They were both very supportive of this race.  Both of these sponsors have been with me for several races and I want to whole-heartedly thank them for their amazing support for Run 4 a Reason events.  I know that our runners certainly appreciated the Orange Mud and Trail Toes products provided at the Grit!  In the process, I hope we have given your respective companies the exposure and promotion you deserve for such great products both produce!

om trailtoes

The Grit is coming back in 2016…point in fact, registration is already open for it!  Next year’s race will follow the same format – 4 stages, 3 days (or 2.1 days, however you want to look at it).  The running locations apart from the Wormsloe mile will be different than the 2015 race.  The lowest cumulative time of every stage wins the Grit (solo and team).  The mileage for next year’s race will be 107.5 miles.  Moving forward, the Grit’s official name is the “Savannah Grit Stage Race”.  I’ve dropped the 175k because the Grit will vary in distance from 100 to 112 miles, from year to year.

So far, the locations for next year’s Grit are…

  1. stage 1: 50 miles. Location: Skidaway State Park on a 6.2 mile loop.
  2. stage 2: 25.5 miles at the McQueen’s Island trail, 12.79 mile out and back.
  3. stage 3: 31 miles. Location: tbd
  4. stage 4: 1 mile at Wormsloe Historic Site

Next year’s buckle is being modified to reflect the year of the race and a machete clenched in the tentacles of the Kraken in honor of a 2015 Grit veteran.

We will also be introducing a point system for the Grit next year.  This may seem a little complicated and confusing but it’s not, I assure you.  The point system being introduced will be for those that finish stages at certain time frames.  The person with the most points wins a jacket with the Grit logo on it.  So, aside from winning every stage and getting a pink hat for that feat you will have the opportunity to push yourself even harder and if you get the most points you’ll have a nice trail jacket to accompany that pink hat, or yellow hat or, blue hat,  yada, yada, yada.

Check out the Savannah Grit race site for a detailed explanation on the features for the 2016 race.

I sincerely thank all of the people that were a part of the Grit in all capacities!  You guys helped usher in a new tough race to Savannah! I hope some or all of you will be a part of the 2016 Grit!

I wish you all the very best.





Running, Hiking, Traveling, Exploring, & a dog named Mr. Gypsy

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