Things have been quiet on the extremist front for a few years now and the Damn Wakely Dam Ultra, referred to by the community as simply "Wakely" seemed to have grown in popularity. Each year registration would open to previous year's runners and we would nearly fill up. Open registration would start and within hours Wakely would be sold out and a long waiting list would be maintained. Usually by race week many people would find a spot but just as many would have to be turned away - that was always the hard part for me.
In our 8th year the 5 hour mark was broke and we all thought that was pretty amazing. Not having ever run any other organized ultra, I really had nothing to compare Wakely to. I would look at times from other 50Ks and they always seemed faster. I attributed this to the fact that we might not be attracting the elite runners. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the Wakely course was pretty darn tough and that our runners were as tough as any. But Wakely has never been about setting records or attracting big names or sponsors. It's all the "little people" people that really made Wakely what it was. I used to look at all of the runners and their families and be amazed at what one was able to do with just a silly website.
I often felt like an imposter among the other ultramarathoners. After all, Wakely is the only ultra I've ever run. Sure I picked up a few names of runners and races, but I never earned a belt buckle or traveled to any of these great events. Maybe now I will.
At the 2009 event we had no less than six photographers snapping away with their digital SLR cameras plus three videographers filming every happening. When I got home after that race I was overwhelmed with data - over 3,000 images and lots of video. The result was paralysis. After just a week or so of posting photos and editing video I hit the wall. Creating custom pages for each runner had been my standard and suddenly I just couldn't find the motivation to do it. Fall became Winter and still the website sat untouched. People wanted to see their photos and I was letting them down. What sort of RD can't find the time to Photoshop his runners into proctologists or Seventeen Magazine cover girls? Eventually, I copped out and posted the raw photos so at least they were out there.
I almost called it quits after 2009 but the draw of Wakely X was too great. I decided Wakely deserved an even 10 years. In the run up to Wakely X I organized the Cranberry Lake 50 Mile All Night Speed Hike. It didn't take much effort - I just showed up with the rest of the screw balls and had a great time doing what I loved. No bus, no shirts, no planning - no pressure. That's where I was in 2001 when nine strangers met at a trail head and ran the first Damn Wakely Dam Ultra.
Nothing to see down here.
What part about "nothing" didn't you understand?