John Nelson

John Nelson’s Elizabeth’s Furnace 50km Report

This has been a tough winter for training. After cutting short three big runs (21 miles at Boyers Furnace, 16.5 miles at TWOT and 15 miles at Hashawha) EFA was going to be my breakthrough run.

I was looking forward to topping Sherman and finishing strong. I was still feeling fresh along Dolls Ridge with the nasty rocks at mile 14. When the Tuscarora Trail started down, I paused to water the trees, knowing I could catch up to my companions as the trail headed down. Then I was flying down, catching up quickly when I discovered I could hear the creek rushing off to my right. I shouted something about ‘we’re getting close’ and glanced up to see if I could see the fire road to the right. The next thing I knew I was doing a push-up and wondering how bad the damage was.

As I struggled upright, the guys with me came back to ask if I was OK. Someone said my glasses broke and as he put the lenses back in I said don’t worry about them I have new ones on order. I wasn’t gushing blood and didn’t feel dizzy so I figured it was mostly cosmetic damage.

Then I saw Tom Corris and Dave Woll below. They had left their aid station and run up for a jaunt. It turns out we arrived at the intersection with the Signal Knob fire road at the same time as they did. I had a choice to make, hike the climb over the Tuscarora Trail and down to my car or take the flat fire road with Tom and Dave to their cars. I chose the flat because I couldn’t see myself and didn’t really know the extent of the damages, and this would let me stay with people.

My GPS says I ran 14.8 miles and hiked 5.2 miles out. The 5.2 seemed to take all day. I didn’t feel too bad except for being hungry since the crash happened at lunchtime and I couldn’t really eat with a busted mouth. Quatro gave me a YooHoo which was a blessing.

The folks in the Emergency room in Front Royal were not very encouraging, saying things like “Wow, have you looked at yourself yet?” They did offer that the Doctor on call, Dr. Behsudi had trained as a plastic surgeon and did amazing work. He spent 2 hours putting in about 30 stitches. A CAT scan showed no inter-cranial bleeding, but that I had broken my nose.

If there is anything good to take from this experience it’s the advice I would offer. If you run trails, you will fall sooner or later. Some falls are worth writing home about (ask Sean Andrish to show you his hand, or Elena Bragg her knee). You can minimize the impact (pun intended) if you do these things; a) Wear gloves, cheap garden gloves work and if you clip the fingers open you can get used to wearing them even in Summer. b) Try to run with others. If you are going out alone pick a trail that is likely to have traffic. c) Carry a small towel. It works to staunch bleeding and may work as a sling.

My thanks go out to Tom and Dave for giving up their plans and hiking out with me. Thanks to Quatro for his YooHoo which may have kept me from passing out in the waiting room.

Now, I have to wait for the swelling to go down before I can start getting in shape for another go. I think the Chocolate Bunny will have to wait till next year.