A Spectator’s View of the Cremator Ultra Marathon 2012

Winner of the Cremator Ultra 50, Joe Hillenbrand, and race director Tim Waz.

I did not run the Cremator Ultra 50 miler this year.  Instead, I photographed the event and helped out with craft services.  I was so impressed by the organization and execution of a race of this magnitude.  The logistics for such an event are no easy feat but Tim Waz and his crew of Low Country Ultras again pulled off another great event.  Great job guys!

As much as I admire Tim and his crew, this event was not about them but about an amazing number of ultra runners that pushed through pain, sweat and searing heat to compete and complete this race.  The Cremator is not a race for the faint of heart!  I can tell you that from experience!  Last year, the Cremator kicked my butt and handed it to me after 30 miles.

This year’s Cremator took place in Port Royal, SC – or, I should say that is where the race started and ended.  From Live Oaks Park in Port Royal the race route took the runner up Old Shell Rd to highway 21 into Lady’s Island and then onto Sea Island Pkwy and St. Helena.  They then worked their way back.

These runners, I think it was thirty-six in all, pushed their bodies through a great deal of heat and discomfort to complete this race.  Some of the runners didn’t seem to display any discomfort at all through-out the race…Maybe, they are karate people – they bruise on the inside not on the outside. 😉

Second place finisher, Marie-Agne Smith, and race director Tim Waz

Whatever the case, these amazing athletes have trained their minds and bodies to endure hardship in uncomfortable temperatures and logged 50 miles on a July day in the Low Country.  If you live in the low country you know that July is a suffocating hot and muggy month.   Down here in the low country the staggering summer heat and humidity cling to you like a heavy, thick wet coat.  Now imagine running 50 miles like that with no shade for even the slightest comfort.  That’s what the Cremator is about – a run through hellish conditions through an idyllic landscape.

Yeah, the low country summer’s are very brutal but this place is also so dang beautiful that you learn to embrace  the rough because of how gorgeous this place is.  I mean, have you ever seen a Spanish moss draped live oak with over-extending branches that reach out over the earth like a greedy octopus’ tentacles?  Well, we’ve got thousands of live oaks down here and everyone of them is a gem to behold.

Any way, the Cremator Ultra 50 started at 6:00 am.  

7 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds after the start of the race, Joe Hillenbrand, crossed the finish line looking strong.  What I mean by strong is that he looked like he could of continued running, making the race longer (something some one actually did.  I’ll talk about that later, though).  Not fifteen minutes later, the second runner, Marie-Agne Smith, crossed the finish line with a time of 7 hours, 29 minutes, 43 seconds.  Both of these runners broke last year’s finish time records.  These two made completing the Cremator look easy.  They both finished looking strong and healthy.  Ms. Marie-Agne Smith finished the race looking like a pretty model during a photo shoot.  Coming in third was Tommy Neeson with a time of 7 hours, 56 minutes and, 16 seconds.  Within minutes of finishing the Cremator, Tommy Neeson fell into one of the two pools set up at the finish line for the ultra runners to cool off in.  It was pretty funny.  He went in shoes and all and carried on with witty humor as he downed a much deserved beer.

Tommy Neeson, third place finisher

As each runner crossed the finish line, Tim Waz hung a medal around their necks and posed with each one for a photograph.  How many race directors have you seen do such a thing?  It was inspiring and I believe it certainly made the completion of this momentous race a more savoring moment for each runner.

So, one by one, runners crossed the finish line with family and friends cheering them on.  Some of the runners galloped across the finish line while others limped across the finish line, grimacing with each step but enduring the pain and finishing what they had set out to do!  Rarely, have I been so impressed by athletes as I was by all of the Cremator ultra runners.  These runners, in my opinion, are in a league of their own and that means, – they are all champions to me!  Or, as Karen Jackson Heitner corrected me when I stated that she was a total badass for running 50 miles in vff’s, “Everybody who ran this race is a badass in my book!”  She is so right!  They are all badasses! (But, come on, running 50 miles in vff’s! She is the badass of badasses!)

The last runner to cross the finish line was 57 year old Stephany White at 13 hours, 28 minutes, 3 seconds.  She may have been the last to have  crossed the finish line but she’s as much a champion to me as every other runner that started the Cremator at 6:00 am and completed all 50 miles!  It takes an incredibly strong and driven person to take on a race that demands tremendous endurance and stamina such as the Cremator.  Like I’ve said before, this race is not for the faint of heart.  This race will test your mettle.  Passing the test puts you into a league apart from all other runners.

Andy Bruner after running 57 miles

Now, about the rumor of a second Cremator taking place on the same day at the same time as the this Cremator…Yes, it appears that there were indeed two Cremator ultra marathons going on at the same time.  There was the Cremator Ultra 50 miler that Joe Hillenbrand came in first place and then there was the Cremator ultra 57 miler that took place in one man’s mind, Mr. Andy Bruner’s. 😉

The reality is that Andy mistook the route and ended up running 7 more miles than everyone else and still finished with a very respectable time of 9 hours, 24 minutes and 48 seconds and placed 8th place overall!  Also may I add that he maintained a very positive attitude and great sense of humor.  Now, that is quite admirable and, also a true sign of a great and amazing athlete.

The runner’s at this year’s Cremator Ultra 50 are amazing and admirable athletes.  I had the privilege of meeting many of these runners and can also attest that these are also some of the most wonderful people I have met.

Thanks for stopping by.

All the very best to you and yours.

Take care and God bless.







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