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.

peace,

dh

07/02/2015

 

Denali

There’s no easy way to say goodbye to a friend, especially when they’ve supported you through your darkest times.

The Georgia Coastal 155

The Georgia Coastal 155

cggmap

 

On April 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm, four runners from Savannah will embark on a 48 hour 155 mile running journey following the Coastal Georgia Greenway from St. Mary’s,Ga. and culminating in Hutchinson Island, Ga. on April 19th.

Why?  Because it’s there, – the Georgia Coastal Greenway, that is.

This run is a personal journey with friends and, with several ambitions…

  • As a fundraiser for Liam’s Land, a 501c3 that funds research for finding what causes lymphatic malformations with hopes of finding a cure for this ailment.
  • Bringing awareness to the magnificent project called the Georgia Coastal Greenway which aims to connect and bridge a series of trails and paths up the coast of Georgia.
  • Possibly creating a multi-day foot race up the CGG and ending it at the Trade Center on Hutchinson Island.
  • Lastly, because the CGG is there and why not be the first group of runners to run it!

This run will take us across six counties, 9 cities and 15 jurisdictions.  The cities we’ll run in and through are St. Mary’s, Woodbine, Kingsland, Brunswick, Darien, Riceboro, Midway, Richmond Hill and Savannah.

The CGG is not yet complete but I believe that once it is it’s gonna have a huge positive impact economically because of the recreational opportunities it will provide.

Currently, 80% of the course is road and on US 17 and State Route 99.

The runners are all experienced ultra runners but this experience will mark their longest run to date.

The runners are…

  1. John Durant
  2. Jason Edenfield
  3. Karl Joseph
  4. Dan Hernandez

For more information on the Georgia Coastal Greenway please visit: http://coastalgeorgiagreenway.org/

For more information on the 155 mile run please contact Dan Hernandez, dlh14255@gmail.com, 912.398.9941

Thank you.

peace,

Dan Hernandez

Run 4 a Reason

 

“Why do I run” Contest

whyrun

Hi there.  Last week, I launched a contest called “why do I run”.  The whole purpose for this contest was to give away the 50k spot that Ms. Caroline Dalis gave up for the Ledesma Sports Medicine Savannah Rails to Trails Ultra.  Ms. Dalis was very excited about running this race but unfortunately things happened and she will not be able to run it.  She asked if I would donate her spot to another 50k enthusiast and I agreed to her wishes.  The condition, though, is that those interested in this 50k spot must do a write-up (brief or long) answering the question of why they run.

Well, we have eight contestants!  And, below are there reasons on why they run.  Please, read through each of the contestant’s posts and then vote on the one you liked the most by clicking on the “why I run” picture below.  The survey is very simple with one question asking which of the writings was your favorite.  You click on the name of the one you liked the most and voila! You’re done!

This coming Friday, December 12th, I’ll tally the votes and the contestant with the most votes will win a free entry to the LSM Savannah RTT 50k that takes place January 10, 2015.  This person will also win a new 20oz Amphipod handheld.  The two runner ups will also each get a 20oz amphipod handheld.  These are pretty sweet water bottles.

 

When you’re ready to vote click on the “why I run” picture below and you will be directed to a surveymonkey site where you can vote for your favorite posting. :) 

click on the picture to vote for your favorite "why i run" response

click on the picture to vote for your favorite “why i run” response

 

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Why do I Run?
by Kim Crowe
I run for so many reasons!  I started running to help manage stress.  My youngest daughter started having seizures that would land us in the ER every time she had one.  After a few months of that and she developed meningitis.  I needed some help dealing with stress.  I turned to running.  Running allowed me to burn off a lot of built up emotion and eventually showed me how strong I could be.  A friend suggested I sign up for a marathon and train with her.  To make a long story short I ended up running a 50k in 5:48 before my first marathon which I ran in 4:00.  I have run every race I could since then.  Running taught me that even though times can be difficult, as long as you don’t give up the finish will be worth it!  I have developed a passion for running and helping others which makes Ultras the perfect place for me bc if you know anything about Ultras you know the people are the most positive encouraging people ever!

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McQueen's Island Historical Trail

McQueen’s Island Historical Trail

Why do I Run
by Sue Gury
I am 51 years old, and through my life, I have always had a large number of things that I was fearful of, some with good reason, others not. A few of my fears involved driving, mostly based on an almost accident with a semi back in the mid 80s. I started running in 2001 a few months after quitting smoking. I progressed from doing 5ks to ultramarathons within about 4 years. There are many places that are hotbeds of ultra activity, our town is fair to middling, but the surrounding counties and states have many more opportunities then our area. Of course, there would be some highway driving involved, where most of my fears originate.
In the years since I have been running, I have gone from totally avoiding all highway driving, to using the local beltway, to driving I-95 to get to a friends house for races, to my top experience, which took place yesterday. There was a 50 k about 100 miles from me on the eastern shore of Maryland, but it involved not only highway driving, but crossing the Chesapeake Bay bridge (4.3 miles). I made myself drive down, do the race, and drive back, knowing full well that there would be highways, rain, and a big long scary bridge to contend with. Running is about the only thing that I love so much, that I would make myself confront my fears. I have also worked on my social anxieties by becoming a part of a vibrant running group.
In my case, running is helping me conquer my fears.

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RTT Ultra 2014

RTT Ultra 2014

Why do I Run
by Stephanie Moore
I run because something interesting happens from the time you step foot out the door until the time you return. The mind is racing, you can plan your shopping list, over analyze that really good book you just read, repeat a fight you had with your spouse or significant other and suddenly know how to make it right, and solve other problems. You can plan your week, figure out what you will cook for dinner, plan your mom’s birthday party, and still find time to work on yourself and think about ways to become a better mother, wife, or sister. I have found that by becoming a better runner I also seem to become a better person than the day I was before. The mental clarity that comes hand in hand with running is unbeatable. I am able to think past my problems and find solutions instead of anxiety or stress. I reach a point where I know that things are going to be okay. I really can’t say i’ve ever returned home in a worse mood than when I left.

It’s all about self improvement and while it may seem like an exaggeration if we want to change the world we have to start with ourselves and maybe if everyone took time to figure out how they could become a better person, the world would indeed change.

So, that’s why I run. I want to do my part to make the world a better place and I’m starting with me.

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RTT Ultra 2013

RTT Ultra 2013

Why Do I Run
by Jacquelyn Thayer
Mail box to mail box…..that used to be my motto…my goal…some days it was even a frantically whispered prayer….I literally would run from one mail box to the next. I would then WALK three or four mailboxes before running ONE MAILBOX SET, again……We are not talking rural routes here people….we are not speaking of mailboxes that are set great distances apart….we are talking about CUL*DE*SACS!!!! fataI was so saddened and bummed…what had happened?

I had just had my last child….she was only 14….YEARS AS THE DOCTOR POINTED OUT…not months….I was a NURSE….I was supposed to be a role model of health, yet I felt like someone had literally slapped me across the face with my single serving box of girl scout cookies when I saw on my chart it said “Morbidly obese, recommend diabetic and hypertension medications, patient in denial.” Denial? More like my provider was delusional….how could I be morbidly obese? Sure I was chunky….weighed a bit more than high school…fatgbut MORBIDLY OBESE….How FRICKEN RUDE!!! So ever the ICU nurse…I did a calculation to prove that my provider actually received his degree at some third world country that only required water polo and the ability to perform canine CPR to become a MD. But guess what??? That little brat, that 12 year old with eight years of college beyond mine was RIGHT! I was a fat ass time bomb. So I did the only rational thing, I bargained…I asked to be given time and promised to change.

Now I am SURE that other providers had tried to gently tell me to take care of my health. I just never heard them. I HEARD this 12 year old…..I heard him tell me if I didn’t lose a significant amount of weight I was going on medications and going to be like my ICU patients (yep he actually SAID THAT!) So I started to run….from mailbox to mailbox….eventually getting all the way to marathons and now training for ultras. I remember those mailbox days….I remember when it did not matter what the brand of shorts I wore were….THEY ALL RODE UP!!!! Cute little run skirts didn’t come in my size……I very VERY much recall what it felt like to feel like my entire skinny, strong body was trapped inside…..The only way I know how to describe it, is that you are trying to RUN and all around you……these heavy fighting squirrels, are trapped in pillowcases, and they are wrestling….and you are carrying those SUCKERS strapped to every available part of your body….I still struggle, I often look at other runner and wonder how they got so strong…so fast, so amazing! Then I remind myself….we NEVER know where someone came from….where their journey started…..We never know if they experienced the raging squirrel dance, if they suffer from debilitating demons that chase them as they run, if they agonize over every piece of food that enters their mouth…..But what WE DO KNOW is that EVERYONE who moves forward….be it as a one mile fun run runner, a 5K color run participant, a marathoner, an ultra runner, or a woman chasing her vision across the country……We are all RUNNERS…….and we are all AMAZING.

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01122013-21

Why Do I Run
by Sean Davis
I am a runner because of my Grandfather. He was my hero. He ran track and field at Loyola in New Orleans long, long, long before I was born. He and I also shared the same birthday. He at taught me many things in life, but most important was to work hard and treat people with respect. I run because he inspired me. I continue to run now because I made a life commitment to fitness and avoiding a family history of diabetes. My grand father was a hard worker and taught me the importance of responsibility and accountability. Running and life takes self disipline and he did his best to teach that.

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01142013-49

Why Do I Run
by Troy Harper
I’m often asked why I run. Honestly there is not a simple answer to that question for me. Like a lot of people, sometimes I run to get in shape or get ready to challenge myself at a race. Other times I run to help deal with the stress that life brings us all. There are times I run and figure out the answer to something going on in my life, and other times I may run and the miles just click away without me noticing and my mind has just been thought free and enjoying the world around me the whole time. I’m also a big believer in if we keep moving, we can fight Father Time, and I think we all want to take part in that fight. One last reason I run, and it’s not necessarily the actual last reason, is that it’s still fun for me to just go out and run. I can literally walk out my front door and go for a run if that’s what I want to do. It doesn’t require expensive equipment or gear to do, it’s just a simple thing that I still get enjoyment from.

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01242013-25

Why Do I Run
by Courtney Bradley
I run for many reasons. I run because when I was 13 I didn’t make the volleyball team or the basketball team 2 seasons in a row. A sport without balls made sense to me. I joined the cross country team, a team that didn’t reject anyone. Running is a sport that doesn’t reject. I love it because it’s a team thing and an individual one. When I’m out there it’s me, my music and the beat of my feet hitting that pavement. When I sprint to the finish I feel that pain in my legs and I know it’s ok because that pain is almost over. I run because of that high you get when you look around you and see everyone in your race running beside you, you see the gorgeous river or horizon or tree or road kill or whatever along the way during a training run. The pain you feel the next day after a race when you can barely sit down, and going up stairs is just unheard of.
When I run, I run for myself. It’s not for my 4 kids whom my life revolves around or my husband whom I adore. I do for them, all the time, everything I do is for them as it should be when you are a part of a family, but when I run….that one is all me! I’m out there on my own, killing it, mile after mile on my own terms. The running app starts, the music begins and I am focused, on a mission. And that feeling of such accomplishment when I’m done is incredible. I run because I don’t have to have skill with a ball when I’m out there, I rely on the pure mechanics of my body from the motions of each muscle to the in and exhale of each breath. I feel healthy and happy and PERFECT when I run. It’s the true me. Someone asked me the other day, after a race, if I won. I thought, “What a silly question. Why would anyone ask that?” I run for myself. I didn’t win that race, but that wasn’t the goal. I had a fantastic race, loved the course and ran strong and that to me is an enormous win. To run is to win, and that’s why I run.

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01132014-4
Why Do I Run
by James Thomas
I have many reason why I choose to run. First and foremost is my health, I run to help fight heredity, and show my kids a good life style. Second I am a police officer who refuses to give the bad guys a chance. Secretly I run to see the pride in my wife’s face when I met my goal or finished a race. It is truly amazing when you think about it, running can bring me such peace by being surrounded with all of Gods greatness. I am truly blessed.

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There you have it!  Please vote for the runner you feel deserves a free entry to the LSM Savannah RTT Ultra on January 10, 2015!

Thank you for your time!

When you’re ready to vote click on the “why I run” picture below and you will be directed to a surveymonkey site where you can vote for your favorite posting. :) 

click on the picture to vote for your favorite "why i run" response

click on the picture to vote for your favorite “why i run” response

Happy Holidays!

peace,

dh

12/08/2014