In two weeks I will once again stand at the starting line of the Cruel Jewel. This 108-mile ultra that occurs deep within the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest of Georgia was the most difficult race I had faced last May. In addition to the extra 8 miles the race director added from the normal “Century” run and 33,000 feet of climbing, I somehow got lost and added on another half-dozen miles for fun. Based on these obvious challenges, it was no surprise that it took me over 34 hours to finish.
Why on earth would I do it again? That would be a fair question. However, as I wrote in my race report last year, I learned more about myself and what my body and mind were capable of here more than during any other event. Based on this and a nagging desire to know what I was capable of if I had stayed on course, drove me to sign up once again. Another reason I decided to tackle this course was the hopes that it may help prepare me for my next adventure in August, Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc. UTMB is a race that traverses 3 countries around Mount Blanc in Europe and is even more brutal, given its longer climbs and higher altitude. Continue reading