2015 MCTU (12K, 25K, & 50K) - By: Dan Jernigan

2015 MCTU (12K, 25K, & 50K) – By: Dan Jernigan

2015 MCTU (12K, 25K, & 50K)


“Trail runner be aware…..this is not for the faint of heart.” This should have been the very first warning for all those runners who signed up for this year’s race. WOW!!!


Being new to trail running, yet already addicted to it via running at the local Percy Warner Park in Nashville, I figured what better way than to sign up for the 2015 MCTU. I mean, how hard can it be?? Not necessarily wanting to do only the 12K, I decided to enter my very first 25K trail race. Prior to this my longest trail run was 6 miles. I figured I could let my enthusiasm push me through the additional 9.5 miles.


I knew going in that this race was going to be very challenging. For weeks leading up to this I would read every blog and every storyline on this race. Each time my heart started to beat faster and faster, especially as the race day was quickly approaching. What did I sign myself up for????


So, race day was here. I was unable to pick up my packet the day prior so I made sure to arrive early. Thankful that I did because the race crew gave me an extra t-shirt, even though I was technically not guaranteed one because I registered beyond the deadline.


All week it had rained—race day was no different. This led to a soggy day, yet honestly I would not have wanted it any other way. It was very memorable.


The race started with the Runner’s Oath. As nervous as I was going in, this oath and the pre-race speech was very refreshing and light hearted. The “this race is fun, flat, dry, easy” caused some laughter in the crowd.


Anyway, off to the races. The first part started in a flat field. The only obstacle here was dodging horse droppings. From here the race moved into the woods and immediately started uphill. I was actually shocked because you could see a long line of people on the trail walking up the hill. I am sure there were actually folks running up the hill but I could not tell. All I could see were around 25 people in front of me trying to get up the very steep hill. Little did I know the hill I was on was just a mild bump compared to what I would soon be experiencing.


So, there are hills, small and big, but then there are HILLS—very steep hills. MCTU did not disappoint if you were craving steep climbs and descents. The HILL was an awesome, yet scary sight to behold. It is straight down and then straight back up. Only the professionals could have run down the hill and up it without stopping. Most of us were just doing our best from rolling down it. Once we made it to the bottom, now the climbing it would be next. This hill was a doozy. I made it to the top!!!!


After the top there was an opportunity to pick up some time for it seemed like a mile of semi flat terrain. There were plenty of more hills along the route though. Some of the hills you had to lean into it. I was sliding all over the place—and this was with awesome trail shoes.


After the first Aid Station I was so tempted to turn left and run with the 12K folks. The whole time leading up to this station I was having a mental battle—I kept asking myself why in the world did I sign up for the 25K?? Well, fortunately, I was able to keep myself on the correct path and turned right to stay on the 25K & 50K path. This race now led us to multiple creek crossings—some crossings the water came to my knees. The water was extremely cold but at the same time it washed all of the mud away. Being retired military this was probably the best part of the race. It seemed like this was more than just a “race”.


The folks at the 3 aid stations were great. The stations were at the proper distances between each other. Having these aid stations were really benchmarks for me, which allowed me to establish small goals in this run. I would keep telling myself to keep pushing until the next station. When I got there I would hurry up and fill up with water and eat whatever snack they had, then got back on the trail.


As the miles increased my body was taking a beating. I did all I could do to keep going. Fortunately for me I found a couple of other runners (Carl and Donna) to run with during miles 8-13. This was very helpful, for it allowed me to get my mind off the pain. I continued to push through though.


Coming to the finish line you had to run through the same horse field and dodge all of the crap on the field. There was no runner in front of me, nor one behind me that I could tell. All of a sudden, I hear footsteps as someone passed me. For a split second I was disappointed. Then I turned to laugher once I saw it was my 10 year old son. He hid in the woods until I passed by. He quickly ran by me towards the finish line as if to pass his old man. It was a great feeling to be welcomed by him, my daughter, and wife. I just finished my first ever 25K trail run and it was the hardest thing physically that I have ever done in my life.


I am definitely running in this event next year. The mental and physical strength you gain by running in this is unmatched. You run this and you should be able to run in any trail race around. I am told most trail runs can’t even compare to the level of difficulty MCTU presents each runner.


The MCTU folks were great. They supplied all of the food and drinks. They were simply great hosts. My only wish—that more people would run in it. I believe they only had around 200 total runners. To me, the more the merrier.


See you next year…..with or without the rain.

Pre-race speech careful descent The Hill__note the dots of people One of many creek crossings exhausted__only 100 meters to go__wet shirt