Another glorious weekend in the high country. Perfect weather for the 2nd annual Howard's Knob Hill Climb (2 miles of pure hill) on Friday. Conditions were perfect. Bluebird skies and temps in the low sixties to upper fifties. Wayne and I were the only ones that I personally knew to compete in all three of the Triple Crown events. The race actually had a pretty decent number of runners and I was surprised that more people hadn't been up for all three. It started making me think I had a real shot at something until I saw a few other people with the characteristically low bib numbers that designated early registrants. I put the target on a few runners and lined up with Wayne for the start. Even though I hadn't run the Knob since last winter, I still had a distinct advantage from driving up and down it every day to and from work. And the few times I had run it gave me valuable information on where to walk and where to pick up the feet again. I made it the first mile when the gravel regains the pavement and then kicks up at a serious enough angle to bring almost everyone to a walk. I got passed by a woman who always seemed to race at my pace in the other two races. This is one of the people who passed Steve and I like three times on the 25k before I finally reeled her in for good on the home stretch. No big surprises on the climb. A lot of steep walking and plodding jogging got me to the final rising curve where I was able to inject the energy saved on the last walking section into a pretty decent pace that carried me through to the finish. Amy and kids drove past on that final hill and I caught them just before the finish line which was great as Carter ran with me up the final small hill into the finishing corral. 23:05 ended up being just good enough for third in my age group of 30-39. Again you've got to love a small town race. Of course to put things in perspective the winning time was 15:58. All in all a nice kick start to the weekend.
Saturday was the Hound Ears Bouldering Comp. I always do the safety/medical standbye of this event as a representative of our Rescue Squad. It's always a fun scene where I get to see members of the local climbing community at least once a year. Over 400 people from all over the Southeast showed up to enjoy "SPLITTER" sunshiny weather and temps in the upper sixties. I had some help in the morning with one of our younger members and we ended up getting on a couple of the roped climbs for fun. Most of the time I just hung out in or near the upper parking lot with the shoe reps. It's the same group for the most part from year to year and it's always fun just hangin out and catching up with these guys. Some of the more dramatic problems are also just off of the main parking area so you get to see some hard problems pulled with some pretty impressive top-outs on relatively high ball problems. All in all it was a pretty chill day. Amy even got to bring the kids up this year and we let Carter and Gracen scramble around on some low boulders. They had a blast. The scene at Hound Ears has gotten progressively better year after year. As I was standing around it was fun to eaves drop on all the conversations about problems completed. But one guy came up totally psyched with a completely filled out score card. He was a pretty big dude and he came up very proud of his card. He was showing it to one of the judges I was talking to, dramatically pointing with cigarette in hand, to a V1 which was his major accomplishment of the day. I couldn't help but think, "Right ON!!!" This is what this comp is all about. Here's this guy who is totally psyched having a great time and has found enough V0's to keep him happy for the entire day. Of course there are some people throwing down some seriously hard problems in the V9-V10 range but for the most part the Spray Lords of the past seem to have either left the scene or at least mellowed out considerably. I'll bet that same guy'll be back next year pointing confidently cigarette in hand at his latest accomplishment of probably a V2 or who knows maybe even a V3 and will be just as psyched. Or maybe heaven forbid he'll just come back and do a whole bunch of V0's again. Either way the event will be the success it has become as a great fund-raiser for the Carolina Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund. And I'll plan on being there again for my annual dose of bouldering.