“Grit is that ‘extra something’ that separates the most successful people from the rest. It’s the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality.” – Travis Bradberry
The Georgia Death Race is a point-to-point ultramarathon trail race in North Georgia. The race is 68ish miles with close to 40,000 feet of elevation change, starting at Vogel State Park and finishing at Amicalola Falls State Park. Our own Wendell Webber qualified for this very elite race. He got himself a coach and a program and trained for this race as hard as I have ever seen anyone train for anything. All fall and winter long, Wendell would take to the road and to many parks for trails and run more mileage in a day than some run in a week. On April 1st, Wendell took on this challenge that most would never even dream of trying. His time and effort, determination and passion are remarkable and make him a true athlete to look up to.
I asked Wendell to recap the whole experience. Here is what he had to say…
” I went to a pre-race meeting with 200 + other nut jobs I mean hardcore ultra athletes at 5:30 and manged to get back to my room at 7:30 and went to bed. I had to get up at midnight to get to a shuttle to the start by 2:00am in a school bus the woman driving was shocked not only how far we were running but “in the woods…with the critters?!”
At mile 2 or 3 while it was still dark I started feeling my foot sliding in my shoe and thought it was weird because I always have a ritual before a race part of which is making sure my shoe is tied correctly. During my first climb It tore all the way leaving my foot exposed and falling out. The first station at mile 8 didn’t have duct tape so I had to make it to mile 15 to get tape which was after my biggest climb straight up a 4250′ mountain. Mile 13 aid station had some duct tape and that lasted me about 5 or 6 miles but at mile 21.5 the aid station had a big roll of duck tape that i just really used a good portion of. Having to really be cautious how I stepped made the race mentally very hard and but more stress on my left side so I had some pain issues in my knee but I was still moving ok.
I ran for a while with some others not having their best race ever it heartened me a little that one was a two time finisher and another a Western States 100 competitor. We laughed about what we were going through and the various body functions failing us like we had know each other for ever. Still smiling through it all. Mile 47 was yet another climb and I was still moving a few dropped out at this point and one great runner I was trading back and forth’s with injured his Achilles and that was a mental blow. The Western States runner said whose going to run with me I said I will and we started on the trek to the mile 54 aid station. I was starting to really hurt during this period my knee hurt pretty bad and my hands swelled to twice there size which I’m sure had to do with hydration and heat. My pace was slowing and I started to have stomach issues but I kept pushing. I was dark at this point and at one point I shut off my headlamp and it was so beautiful every star and a bright crescent moon. I realized at this moment I had no fear of being out there it was really powerful.
As I approached mile 54 I saw a headlamp coming my way and knew it was a bad sign. The aid station volunteer said I had missed the cut off and my race was over it hurt a lot. Especially knowing my 2nd pair of shoes were in a drop bad just feet away. My race was done at 10:40 it sounds odd when you still had 20 miles left but that was the home stretch and I felt I could have made it. They led me over a fire that felt really good and offered me moonshine which I refused knowing I would probably land in the fire but took the beer they offered. They took me back to the finish where my car was it hard seeing people was come in. I made it to bed at 2 am and collapsed. I woke up ate breakfast and drove 17 hours home. That’s a long time to think of shoulda coulda wouldas’.
It was a brutal race the elevation was crazy but it was really pretty and what better way to see a place. My coach gave me this later “Dude. I am so bummed for you. I know how bad you wanted that finish. You were by far one of my most consistent clients. I saw how hard you trained this winter. There are a bunch of extremely experienced runners that I know who commented on the race being just as hard, if not harder then most 100’s that they have done. You absolute did not let me down. You pushed as long as you could. I hope you get right back in the saddle soon and put this one behind you. Take some rest and let’s chat soon. I am here when ready. ” it helped a lot.”
Wendell, the fact that you even dared to dream about this race and then have the courage to follow through makes you an absolute role model for your family, friends and all of the athletes at MidCoast CrossFit.
Congratulations on your AMAZING accomplishment!