A Without Limits Experience at Southern Tour Ultra

Without Limits directs the annual  Southern Tour Ultra in January.  Below is a blurb about the 2018 race and how overcoming obstacles can change your life!

Bob High told me I should document the 2 day experience, so here we go. If you are unfamiliar with the race, it is a 50K and 50 mile relay all day festival we host on a piece of property that is only used for hunting in Wilmington. 2 track roads and trails. This was a sold out event with over 800 people in attendance.

6 days before the race we had 4-6 inches of snow on the ground in Wilmington. Very unlikely scenario. Colin Hackman Justin Fischetti and I went running on the course to check it out. It was a winter frozen wonderland. Tons of downed trees, folded over like they had wet towels hanging from the branches. It was a beautiful mess.

A few days later when the thaw happened temps rose into the 60s and 70s. Jason Adams and I went in and chain sawed all of the down trees and got the course prepped.

The folks from Wilmington Health and I planned on our new enter/exit plan to keep cars safer from US17 traffic so we had everyone entering on Scott’s Hill Loop Rd. Note this is a 2 track fire road people are coming in on (see pics)

There was a chance for about 0.5 inch of rain Thursday -Friday and then Saturday looked cool and dry, perfect for racing.

Packet pickup was onsite from 1pm to 6pm Friday. I woke up Friday AM early to pack the trailer to hear torrential downpours. Not good, but I wasn’t worried. THe sun then came out and things began drying up until the next several hours of downpours came. Then the next set and the next one. I am thinking this is more than a half an inch of rain. 1pm came around and the radar looked sorta clear but the rain just kept coming.

About 2:00 a few folks were notifying me of the fire roads washing out. I took the gator over there to look at them and sure enough, the roads were turning into mud.

We quickly got an email out to everyone notifying them to use the US 17 entrance for the remainder of the weekend. 4 wheel drive vehicles only.

About 4pm the main drive that we brought in 20 tons of ballast stone to help support the road began to rut up and turn into mush. At that point we stopped all vehicles from coming down the road and just had everyone walk about 1000m to get their packets.

4 months of planning had to all be changed in 2 hours. Luckily I set my office up in my trailer and began creating new maps and new logistics with our team. Tim Brock, James Devine, and Melissa Odom the Go Time team and I all got on the same page with the new plans. We got 2 shuttle from 2 different companies reserved with the help of Jason Adams and were able to shuttle people from a Church to the entrance. A nice $1400 bill for that but worth it.

Whew, everyone got packets and the rain stopped. But it wasn’t over……

8pm Bob High and Brian Jeno and I went to put out more signs on the course. We were driving out and here comes the lightning. Then BOOM, huge downpours, crazy lighting, and we were in the middle of it having fun.

I always camp Friday night so we stayed out and enjoyed the storm. Saturday morning 4am hits. One problem. I hear NOTHING and it is pitch black. No lights, No sound of the generator. Not good.

I walk out of my trailer, to find the generator not on. At least it was dry outside I was thinking. I went through the steps to turn the generator back on. It fires up, then peters out. that happened 3 times. I LITERALLY SAID A PRAYER. I said, God….I know you allow things to happen that I can overcome, but I can’t overcome a broken generator. I turned it on 1 more time and it fired up. NO LIE. And it stayed on (remember this at the end of this blog)

Finally I can make my coffee. Coffee brewing. Colin Hackman calls me. TOM SOMEONE IS STUCK ON THE DRIVEWAY. Shit! So I hustle out there, and the first vehicle in….not 4 wheel drive 🙁 We towed her out. Good news she was easy to tow out. The F150 came in handy a few times.

Then I get back, I left my truck up front just in case there was any other issues. Melissa comes running over again, Tom a 4 wheel drive vehicle is stuck. SHIT! I run back over and back my truck up. We get the tow rope ready and…….she doesn’t have a tow hook on the front of her car. Mind you, this is during the rush hour traffic coming in for the race. Jeff G James was there, he says drive through the woods and let’s get it from the back end of the car. So we did, we towed her out backwards and then she was able to move her car out. I look back and there are about 30-40 cars waiting. No problem – we are going to delay the race by 30 minutes each.

We got back, emailed everyone. Called the shuttles to notify the folks they were picking up and we started the races 30 minutes later.

By 745, everyone was in. Things were good…the race was probably the best year yet. Thanks to our awesome community of runners and friends teaming up to work together and make it great.

I told you to remember the generator starting- 15 minutes after the last finisher crossed the line, the Generator shutoff again and wouldn’t turn back on and had a computer error message. The man upstairs has a crazy way of letting us know he is around.

Thanks to many others in our community that always seem to step up, this year was fun. I can say that now. My highlight was listing to my favorite playlist and riding the Gator with Grace. Next up, directing the NHRMC Wrightsville Beach Marathon Madness

– Tom Clifford