Updated: Jul 20, 2022
I love reading race recaps before I do a race. I always feel like I've gotten at least one piece of information out of them that has helped me on race day and I hope this does the same for you!
The Wambaw Swamp Stomp is a 50 mile/50k/50k relay trail race put on by Eagle Endurance--Chad (the Race Director) is a great guy and knows how to put on a "fun" race. I'm using quotes around the word fun because I've learned that my definition of fun is a little different than most other people. For instance- I signed up for this race the week before as a Mother's Day gift to myself. While most of my mom friends were taking naps, going to brunch, and getting massages, I CHOSE to run 31.1 miles. I promise you that I'm not saying this to try to brag or sound like a badass....just trying to give you some perspective of what fun means to me.
As soon as I signed up for the race I did what most of us do, checked the weather. Well that was the first lesson I learned for this race! If you live in the south and it's May-October you should probably check the weather before signing up to run an ultra. I usually cut back on the mileage over the summer months as I personally don't enjoy running in the heat as much. But I registered so I was committed! Temps were supposed to be in the upper 80s but luckily a cold front moved through and temps were in the upper 70s on race day....still hot but much more manageable.
I hadn't been specifically training for this race as I'm in the "off season" after my 50 miler at the Frozen Hell Hole Hundred earlier this year before training for the Barkley Fall Classic starts. I do a long run every week that's usually around 14 miles ( the length of a loop on my favorite local trail) as well as several shorter runs and speedwork on the roads. I figured it would be a good test of my fitness when I wasn't necessarily in prime shape.
I showed up on Saturday morning with my fueling plan dialed in and a loose plan for how I was going to tackle the run. The race started and immediately a few runners took off and put some distance between the rest of the pack. I was in front of the next clump of runners to which I announced that when it came time to make any navigational decision I didn't want to be in the front. It's not my strong suite and something that I want to work on for sure! Luckily the trail was very easy to follow and Chad had it marked well with orange tape. It was also on part of the Swamp Fox passage of the Palmetto Trail so we also had the white blazes to follow as well. I'm trying to run all the passages of the Palmetto Trail so as an added bonus I was running some parts of the trail that I hadn't been on before.
I stuck with that same pack of runners for most of the first half and was running at a slightly faster pace. My plan was to take the first half a little faster than I usually do and once it really warmed up to slow down a little so that I didn't get beat up too much by the heat. It was fun to have some company and meet some new people.
There were aid stations at miles 5/10/15 (the turn around) that were well stocked with all your typical ultra food (pretzels, boiled potatoes, fireball, water, etc..) but the best part was that the water was actually COLD. I guess that maybe it always is and I just never noticed it before but on a hot day, that cold water felt SO good!
At mile 15 we turned around at the aid station and ran back to the start line. At this point the sun was out doing its thing and I was getting HOT and the breeze wasn't really refreshing. Around mile 20 though, I definitely noticed a slight drop in temperature and the breeze actually felt cool--the cold front was likely moving in at this point.
The trail is like most that you will find in the Lowcountry. Minimal to no elevation gain, roots/rocks/holes to dodge, and different types of terrain: soft grassy spots, hard packed fire roads, gravel where they are trying to repair water damage to the trail, single track (the most fun part is through the old rice fields on this passage!).
Heading back to the finish line I started adopting a run/walk plan: I ran the first mile after each aid station; for the middle 3 miles I alternated between running 0.5 miles and walking 0.1 miles; and then running the last mile to the aid station. This worked out well as walking anymore than 0.1 at a time just felt bad.
When you arrived at the finish line you had to run about 0.5 miles out to some train tracks and pick up a rock and run back to get that last mile in to make it 50k. Bending over to pick up that rock was probably the hardest part of the race. I picked up that rock and booked it as fast as I could back to the finish line.
I ended up getting 2nd place female for the day....the first place female was cruising and did an amazing job. 3rd place went to a friend who PR'd the 50k distance. Overall it was a great day and a great race and I'm sure I'll do it again!
I'll do a separate post next week on how I fueled for this run so be sure to come check that out!
Kayla Fitzgerald is a Registered Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor located in Charleston, South Carolina. She works with clients 1:1, through small group coaching, and self guided programs. Her goal is to help you fuel your body for whatever the day has in store whether it's a 100 mile race or getting through the work day.