by Andy Styer
I never intended to do these two races the same year, since they take place on back-to-back weekends. The plan was always to just do Laurel Highlands and that’s it. Well, I had my name on the waitlist for Worlds End, just in case I didn’t get into Laurel for some reason. I actually forgot about it, and since I was pretty deep on the list, I never removed myself once I was officially registered for Laurel Highlands. The last 3 weeks before the race I catapulted from 93rd down to single digits. It wasn’t until a week before Worlds End that I actually got in. I had a little help, too, but that’s not for public knowledge : )
So, the real question was, could I actually pull this off ? Worlds End is a course that always had my number. I finished in 2020 @ 18hrs 4 minutes, and in 2021 I DNF’d at mile 35. Laurel Highlands I did in 2019 with a finish time of 17hr 13 minutes. No crew, no pacer.
For Worlds End, I quickly assembled a team of pacers and crew. I secured a camping spot where my good friend and training buddy Kyle was renting a yurt. The race started off great–I wasn’t trying to kill it, just trying to finish it! All was well until my stomach turned south and my pacers & crew had their hands full with a runner in the “pain cave.” They all had explicit instructions from me to not let me drop unless I broke a leg. They didn’t, in spite of my whining and fits. They kept me going and I was able to finish in 18 hours and 55 minutes. 5 minutes to spare!
At Laurel, this time, I just had my crew of Kim (my partner) and Nathan (my son), who met me at every crew access point. No pacers, but the race went well. Laurel Highlands is a similar course in elevation gain, but it has many more flowing, runnable sections. This race went rather well, and I finished in 17 hours and 52 minutes.
I was rather surprised that I could do these back-to-back. There was little to no recovery coming from hard 70-80 mile training weeks to Worlds End, and then really no recovery time head into Laurel Highlands. I really cherished this feat and the support I got from my family and friends.
What’s next on the race calendar you say? Nothing, just rest and having fun on the trails!