I cannot start this report without giving my brother, Matt, a huge shout out. Life is busy. Sometimes carving an hour out of a day is tough. However, Matt spent 35 straight hours crewing me and the boys. No sleep. Nearly 20 aid stations. Fully prepared and ready for us & willing to go find us whatever we needed, having it at the next station. This man is so selfless and giving & I cant believe I am so lucky to have him as a brother. Matt, you have no idea what having you out there meant to me & did for me. I love you more than you know.
Now, onto the CUT112 Event Report. From the top I’ll say I loved how laid back this was and that it wasn’t a race. As I’ve said before, I took a year off from racing to get my ego in check & to stop being so competitive. To go into this event with one goal: to finish, and have no care as to what “place” I was in was just what I needed!
What is the #CUT112:
The Connecticut Ultra Traverse (CUT) 112 is a run that covers the length of the state of Connecticut from North to South. On the New England Trail from the MA-CT border to the Long Island Sound in Guilford, CT. This is where we will organize our 112 mile run.
This route strings together some of the best trail running in Connecticut including Suffield Mountain, Peak Mountain, Hatchet Hill, Wilcox Park, Penwood State Park (Traprock 50k), Heublein Tower, MDC Reservoirs, Rattlesnake Mountain, Pinnacle Rock, Crescent Lake, Ragged Mountain, Castle Craig, Lamentation Mountain, Chauncey Peak, Mount Higby, Powder Ridge, Tri-Mountain State Park, Bluff Head (Bimblers Bluff 50k) , Cockaponset State Forest, East River Preserve, and the Guilford Point waterfront.
This was a cool event because Frieman, Justin, Davey and Billy were all doing it. They only accept 20 participants (you need to give a “resume” to show you are capable) To have all the boys out there with me as we traversed CT was pretty special.
The run started at 8am, and Erik drove me, justin, frieman and Billy to the start, where we would meet up with Davey and Matt. The beginning was pretty chill, as we all walked to the CT border.
(I have to say 112 miles with no sleep can make one a little delirious so details may be fuzzy as I attempt to piece together what unfolded the last 2 days.)
In the beginning Billy, Justin and myself ran together, chatting as we went. When we hit the first aid station Matt and Erik were there ready for us. Everyone was in good spirits & feeling good, obviously. However, we did notice Justin was sweating an INSANE amount. At this point it wasn’t that warm so it was a little strange. We later found out Justin would drop at mile 30. He couldn’t stop sweating and had chills, vomiting, etc. Seemed to be that he and a bug maybe.
The next section Billy and I ran together, and at one point we stopped seeing blue blazes. Just then another runner was running toward us, it seemed he realized as well that we may be off track. We turned around & looked for blue, which we saw at the bottom of a steep hill. However, once we went down, there was no blue anywhere. We pulled up the map & realized we were off track. To lose time (25 minutes) and add a long climb into an already long race was enough to get us dialed in going forward.
The first few sections were really nice terrain and as we cruised through aid stations Matt warned us that we were maybe going too fast. Before this event, the longest I have run was 50 miles, so I was a bit nervous on how to pace. However, I had Billy with me who is seasoned at this distance so I felt good.
I was able to see Erik at the first 3 aid stations which was so nice. When he left at about 12pm Friday and said “I’ll see you tomorrow night” the reality of what was ahead hit me.
At about 4pm I knew my friend Trish would likely be volunteering at an aid station, and to come out of the woods and see not only her, but my friend Shea as well, was such a pick me up. As we all chatted & Billy and I sat, Ashley and Justin roll in! Justin had just dropped, but you would have never known. He had a huge smile & was so positive. His wife Ashlry jumped out of the car with a big smile…these two are just incredible. What a fun aid station that was.
The next aid station was just as special because Trish, Justin and Ashley all came and my friend Patti surprised me. She is one of the funniest people I know & such a huge supporter of mine. It was so special to see them all. However, you can’t spend too much time at aid stations (as hard as it is to leave) so we kept going.
Two aid stations later it was time to put on head lamps. This was one of my big lows. When we showed up to the aid station you could tell there was some panic. Art (the event director-amazing dude) was on the phone as well as others & they asked us if our whole crew had gone through the aid station after ragged mountain. Apparently search and rescue was there looking for someone who had fallen off the cliff. Luckily, all the racers, including our crew were accounted for. Unfortunately, someone else wasn’t as lucky. As we left the aid station into the night – the part I was most worried about (ridgeline in the dark) we hear life star right over us. This must have happened within minutes of when we were on ragged mountain.
This was not the way I wanted to start the night. At this point Billy and I were over 50 miles deep together and a bond had formed. I had told him my fears & that I was at a low point. He was INCREDIBLE talking me through. Every ridgeline we got through he would simply say “great work”. Not many words were exchanged, but those words were enough.
The nighttime was very hard for me. The sections we did (Castle Craig, Mt. Higby) were so relentless, steep and rocky. We could barely run, and kept a very slow pace. At one point Matt ran out to meet us and run as back to the car, which was parked at mile 60. The furthest I have ever run, and Art was there to congratulate us for completing the whole Metacomet(?). (We would later learn this is the point where Frieman would drop due to some bad knee pain)
As soon as I would stop I would start to shiver, and all I wanted was to stay at the truck, in the chair with a sweatshirt. However, since that wasn’t an option, the next best thing was to get up and go. We finally hit sunrise, but not without some pretty epic snake sightings. I somehow stepped right over a snake (which Billy thought was a copperhead) without knowing and also heard the definite rattle of a rattlesnake.
The sun came up just as pink as it went down. It was pretty beautiful. I was told when the sun comes up you’ll get a jolt of energy. I can’t say this happened. When I hit mile 83 aid station I hit a big low. My toes were all so blistered under the toe nail and I kept jamming it on rocks, sending so much pain through my whole body. I also had huge blisters all over my feet. I decided to take my shoes off, which probably messed with my head a bit. What I saw was disgusting, but I popped the blisters under the nails & that did relieve pressure. However, the other blisters hurt more after being popped.
When I started to walk I was in extreme pain. Not only the blisters but my shins were in an insane amount of pain. The pain then carried to my right ankle and it felt broken. I thought there was no way I could do 30 more miles. I think Matt could see this and told me to do what I can, but if I need to drop I’ve already far exceeded anyone’s expectations. He told me how proud he was of me, and it was so sincere.
I left there knowing the next aid station was 6 miles away. I could drop then, but I had to give it a try. Billy was also hitting a big low at this point. As we walked into the trail I said to him, “Billy, we have one job from this point on. Just appreciate the trail & the beauty.” I needed a mind shift because I was in a dark place. You feel like you are so close to the end, but at the same time you have 30 miles to go. Hard to wrap your head around.
At this point Billy told me if I feel ok I can go ahead. I turned and said, “Billy, I’m one step away from turning around, I can barely walk.” In typical Billy fashion he said, “Darcy you are finishing this. You’ve got this.” Maybe it was his words, maybe it was my brothers pep talk, but something happened at that point and I ran the next 6 miles pretty well. I kept replaying Inky Johnson in my head “finish what you started.” “It’s not even about me. It’s about repaying the people that invested in me and saw something in me when I couldn’t see it in myself.”
I haven’t talked to Matt much, but I think he half expected me to come out of those woods ready to drop. As I came out onto the road and saw Matt a quarter mile away I ran with purpose. I ran to repay him for what he had done for me not just the last 30 hours, but every day. I told him at this point I was finishing and he said Art told him one more tough section then it was pretty smooth last 17 miles.
Again, in the scheme of the race 17 miles seems like nothing, but when every step is so painful, it seems like a lifetime. Soon after this Matt would start to park his car at the next aid station and run into the woods to find me and pace me back. It was UNREAL when I would see him sure that I was at mile 5 of the 6 I had to do and he would say, “about 3 miles to go” I couldn’t believe how long each section felt.
At this point my pain was so bad that I was just concerned with long term damage. I told Matt I could run through it, but I was just concerned with permanent damage. I decided to keep going, perfecting the “ultra shuffle” the rest of the way.
The event finishes with a 4 mile road section. I was super concerned with this section as I heard it is hard to follow. Matt took pics of each turn on his phone, but turns out we didn’t need it because a volunteer (Simon) was dropped off to guide me in.
Now would be a good time to thank all of the amazing volunteers that helped through the 2 days. This event literally could not happen without them and they were INCREDIBLE. At times it was hard to truly show how appreciative you are when you are in zombie mode, but I hope they know, especially Art who was the brainchild of this event.
Erik was able to make it back for the last aid station and the finish and it was so amazing to see him. Matt brought me home as I made my way to the Long Island sound to touch the water. I earned my first belt buckle finishing the CUT112 in 33 hours and 20 minutes.
How am I feeling: I woke up this morning with a lot of pain, not really able to flex my toes at all. I have a lot of swelling and bruising through my shins and foot. I’m hoping rest and ice will heal, and it’s nothing major.
What an adventure this was. I battled a lot of demons out there and definitely came out stronger because of it. Like the IRONMAN, the 100 mile distance was a bucket list item for me, and I don’t have any plans to do it again. However, to be back in Connecticut after battling me belonging in this state for so long and to traverse the entire state with 4 of the greatest guys around…pretty epic!!