Pilot Mountain Payback Marathon — Toughest 26.2 miles encountered so far!

I know I am WAY behind with other blog posts, but I’d like get this one done. This past weekend was such an incredible experience, one that I took many pictures during to try to capture the beauty of the mountain and the overall good time had by everyone. That said, I’ll TRY to let the pictures do most of the talking….

This was the Pilot Mountain Payback Marathon. I don’t know if you remember or not, but last month I ventured down to North Carolina to run the Frosty 50k (no? click here, let me remind you). While there I met some amazing people – one in particular was Angi with Twin City Track Club. Had it not been for her, we never would have been able to take on this adventure – Thanks Angi! What else ya got!? πŸ™‚

Angi and Mike

Angi and Mike – Posing with her new OUTRUN decal

Angi read my blog post about the Frosty 50k. In it I took a picture of this mountain and made mention that I had to come back down to hike it. She sent me a message telling me about this race, put me in touch with Abran, and I was sold! It didn’t take long to drum up interest with my friends to make a roadtrip and run this marathon, and before I knew it, there were 9 of us making the trip down for certain (Me, Michele F., Dawn L., Mike VS, Charlie B., Jane T., Crystal L., Laura T. and her husband Dean who was running support) and a couple that were on the fence, pending their schedules (Mike S. and his wife Beth).

Unfortunately, Jane had somethings come up and wasn’t able to make the trip. Mike S. ended up going in her place tho – too bad it was without his wife Beth tho (Jane/Beth, you definitely have to be in on our next road trip and if you are reading this, STOP NOW or risk dwelling in jealousy for hours) πŸ™‚

We all met at my house Friday morning, had some coffee and bagels thanks to Michele and then headed out. The drive was nice and easy – a short 6.5hours and the weather for it really couldn’t have been better. Once we arrived at our hotel we determined who got the bed and who got the floor, put on a movie and chilled. Race day was just a few short hours away!

Getting to the start finish line was like nothing I’ve had to do before. How do you gauge the toughness of a race even before you get to the S/F line? Try having to make two creek crossings IN YOUR CAR on the way to S/F!

(these were actually taken on our way out — didn’t think of taking pics the first time through) I was hesitant to drive across this till I saw a smaller car make it across. Then in true fashion – I figured where was my sense of adventure, right? If someone else could do it, so could I!

We made it across, gathered our things and posed for a quick pic – Thanks Dean.

Representing Ohio in NC

Representing Ohio in NC

Ok.. enough of my dribble… Here are the photos!

5.5miles into the race -- and still a long ways to go till we see the mountain

5.5miles into the race — and still a long ways to go till we even get to the mountain

Charred evidence of the November 2012 fire that burned 675 acres of the mountain

Charred evidence of the November 2012 fire that burned 675 acres of the mountain

Felt a little like CVNP here --- for like, 2 seconds.

Felt a little like CVNP here — for like, 2 seconds.

Heading to the summit

Heading to the summit

Amazing views!

Amazing views



Probably could have done without the steps

Probably could have done without the steps

Gotta love a race that warns you you could die

Gotta love a race that warns you you could die

At the Summit

At the Summit

Summit photo op

Summit photo op

We were very spread out at the start and it was by complete coincidence that we all made it to the summit within minutes of one another. We posed for several not so quick photo ops at which time we were reminded a couple of times by the guy working the aid station, “Uh, guys? You do realize this is a race – right?” LOL… priceless.

Our group -- Thanks again Dean!

Some phenomenal, like-minded, crazy friends – Thanks again Dean!

Once at the summit and after taking some pics and grabbing a bite to eat we headed out for the rest of our race. We left this look out spot and headed down, or so we thought. We had to circle the “knob” before heading down. If you’ve ever seen Pilot Mountain it is at the very top, so up we went a little bit more and took advantage of the scenery for a few more photo ops..

The knob

The knob

Up some more!

Up some more!



Charlie and Crystal

Mike and Crystal



IMG_3522 IMG_3523

I didn’t take as many pictures on the way down — just imagine the ones above, but in reverse order πŸ™‚ We were all together for quite a while until Mike VS and I took off from the knob running and jumping from rocks like we were downhill skiing – felt awesome. And then it happened… I made a mistake and thought since it was cold that I wouldn’t need any S-Caps… the rest of our group caught up…. and then past me. After over 4.5hours of running I was now walking quite a bit. My face was covered in salt and didn’t have anything to replenish myself with other than water and a GU. Breathing was difficult and every time I blinked a blurry spot in my vision seemed to grow. I ran/walked the rest of the way and finished this mother in 5hrs 15min. check out the data here. So proud of the rest of our group. They crushed this run and to make it even sweeter Crystal took first place in female masters. Congrats Crystal!

Check out these links for official results —- PMPB 1/2 Marathon, PMPB Full Marathon.Β  First placed finished in just over 3hrs 30min!Β  Crazy respect for everyone that ran this! I couldn’t imagine doing it that fast!Β  Our group fared pretty well — even with all the photo ops and goofing around all of us – except for speedy Crystal (4hrs 51min)Β  finished between 5hrs and 5hrs 18min.

After finishing up, we thanked Abran the RD for such a great event. One that I am sure we will be coming back to again next year – and with an even bigger group. Hope to see you at O24 Abran!

Abram --- looking uncomfortable holding Peg - LOL

Abran — looking uncomfortable holding Peg – LOL

And it wouldn’t be normal to end such a great run without a great meal. We headed into Winston-Salem and ended up at the Foothills Brewery for “refueling”.

A People's Stout sample, Sexual Chocolate Stout, and an Ostrich burger?  Yes please :)

A People’s Stout sample, Sexual Chocolate Stout, and an Ostrich burger? Yes please πŸ™‚

The next day, prior to our departure we had to make a stop. Did you know that Mt. Airy — where Pilot Mountain is located is Andy Griffith’s home town and Pilot Mountain is Mt. Pilot from the show? Yeah – Mayberry as in Andy Griffith and Opey – click here to find out more. So we had to make a stop here.

Yes, there is a whole museaum dedicated to him

Yes, there is a whole museum dedicated to him

and then time for one more photo op…

Peg, Andy, and me... Doesn't it look like he is looking down at me as if to say -- "What is up with this leg, you crazy little man!?"

Peg, Andy, and me… Doesn’t it look like he is looking down at me as if to say — “What is up with this leg, you crazy little man!?”


14 thoughts on “Pilot Mountain Payback Marathon — Toughest 26.2 miles encountered so far!

  1. I loved reading your version of this race. I’m friends with Angi and was there at both the Frosty 50 (on a relay team) and did the Pilot Mt. Payback heavy half (I’m not crazy!) Your attitude toward these races is fantastic and the pictures tell the story beautifully. I love your Peg Leg and hope to see you at some other races. Hanging Rock trail race (11 and 4 miles) is coming up soon, probably too soon for what you just did, as well as Owls’ Roost Rumble (half and 3.5 trail) in Greensboro.

    Happy Trails!

    • Thanks Heather! Too bad I didn’t get a chance to meet you. Probably won’t make it for those, have a 50k I’m supposed to run next weekend then need to give my bank account a break, after that April is pretty packed! Abran said he might try and make it up for our O24 race in April; You, Angi and everyone else should come on up. It’s a great time! πŸ™‚

  2. thank you for sharing these beautiful photos – what beautiful scenery to inspire you while you run the course! Also, Peg Leg is awesome – kind of like the Travelling Gnome, but for runners πŸ˜‰

  3. Great race report, fantastic pictures, and big congrats on finishing what I’m sure was a beast of a marathon. I ran the half that day and barely survived…anyone who was able to complete the full distance is a hero of mine! Haha.

  4. This blog made me register for the 2014 full. It’ll be my second trail marathon. I recommend Grand Teton Trail Marathon if you ever head west in the fall.

    • That is awesome! See you there. Isn’t a huge race so when you see me, be sure to say Hi! πŸ™‚

      We are heading out west in October. We are running Rim2Rim2Rim. Sooo excited!

  5. Pingback: Time to play – I mean train, ah… run — Oh what the hell — PLAY! | No Giving Up Now

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