Rick Albanese (MM11181) – RACE REPORT: I’ve been trying to catch up on rest and recovery but wanted to share a bit more from my experience at the Cruel Jewel 56.
I knew this race had a reputation as being difficult but I felt comfortable tackling the 56 (58) mile version based on a 28 hour cutoff and some shorter previous mountain race experience.
I was planning on using this as a big training race for the Kettle Morraine 100 next month.
I had two water flasks in my vest and a 2 liter bladder on my back to start with ice cold water.
About 2-3 miles in I felt the water pouring out down my legs and back and took the vest off to discover the BRAND NEW plastic bladder was defective and the valve completely separated from the pack rendering it useless the rest of the day!
I turned it into a positive now carrying far less weight on my back. There are long hot climbing stretches where you would want that water bladder for sure.
I felt pretty solid up to mike 30 and was moving well and in control getting there just under 10 hours which was good for me.
I was pacing easy and had garnered about 5000 feet of climb at that point. Although it was not as hot as it could have been for Georgia it was still in the 70s and I took time to stay on top of my ice, hydration and nutrition all day.
The last 27 miles known affectionately as the Dragons Spine were gradually more brutal with rocky rolling steep climbs and descents. Although the weather cooled to perfect temps for me it created a mountain mist that coated the rock slabs on the trail turning them into ice like sheets that were very slippery.
I joined a 100 mile runner without a pacer that had fallen and hit his head on a rock. We stayed together the rest of the way after mile 35ish. I tried to lead the most part as he had many more hours and miles on his feet.
At one point in the dark I was descending and slipped on a rock slab landing hard on my back knocking my headlamp off my head. Fortunately I had a rain jacket in the pack that cushioned the fall.
My 100 mile friend passed down cautiously while an older man tried going around the rock slab and literally stepped off the mountain landing in some greenery backwards stopping his falling descent.
I helped him up with still unstable footing and we carried on eventually reaching daylight and the finish!
The last 27 miles featured over 9000 ft of relentless climbs. The descents were mostly not runnable and very steep as well.
The saving grace was the 28 hour cutoff that allowed for hiking pace. There were very few sections in the back half to make up time.
Gear that lasted well the 23+ hours includes: my XOSKIN toe socks and runderwear held up amazing as always along with my TTrail Toes Anti-Friction Foot and Body Products on my feet and Squirrel’s Nut Buttereverywhere else!
Also continued using Spring Energy real food gels packing 180-250 calories each and Black Diamond carbon z trekking poles!
I will always cherish and remember the incredible challenge of this race but don’t think I need the 106 mile version in my life!!! #xoskin #OMRTrailTeam
Photo and Post Credit Rick Albanese