Monday, May 11, 2015

Being halfway SMART in the Smokies

There is a popular challenge in the Southeast called SCAR--the Smokies Challenge Adventure Run.  The goal is to run all 72 miles of the Appalachian Trail that goes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in less than 24 hours.  My husband Divesh accomplished this just a few weeks ago, and I was tempted to try as well but didn't like the idea of such a long run while training for other races.

Fortunately, there is another good ultramarathon option in the Smokies:  SMART, the Smokies Adventure Run Two-Day.  SMART was created by my friend Janice after she watched runner after runner fail at SCAR.  To be SMART, you take two days for the run, staying overnight in luxury at a hotel in Gatlinburg, which you can get to from the road that splits the park in half.  Two days also leaves you free to run whichever direction you want on each section, and in particular lets you run the easiest direction on both days!

So on Saturday, we started at Newfound Gap (the road that splits the park roughly in half) and headed north for 31 miles to Davenport Gap.  We were mostly incredibly lucky with the weather; we had a cool breeze and shade much of the time, and we avoided all but about 20 minutes of the rain that was falling on both sides of us in the afternoon.  And it was a beautiful day:

Sadly, we were only half SMART.  At the end of day 1, we were met by Divesh, who had had his own exhausting day.  While he was driving my car to pick us up, my car broke down and he had to find a rental car in rural Tennessee, not an easy task.  The entire next day was spent getting the car to a mechanic (who couldn't do anything because everywhere that sold parts was closed on Sundays) and finding a way to get us all home in time for work on Monday.  So the second half of the Smokies will have to wait...but hopefully not for long.