This was the first year of the “Boulder Dash.” Typically, the Six Pack Series ends in Rocktoberfest Half Marathon, but that was discontinued this year for a new mystery event. When it was announced, I wasn’t sure what to think about it. It was definitely different, but I wanted to give it a shot.
The race took place at 8:30 am on October 8, 2022, at the Martin Marietta quarry and was billed as a unique racing experience. They have hosted similar events at other quarries, and I think the company uses this as a marketing opportunity. This was a run during Dopey Training Week 15 which was a down week for mileage.
This was a course like no other. The Martin Marrietta quarry in north Charlotte that I didn’t even know was there. Being that I have never been to a quarry, I wasn’t sure what to think. I knew we were going to go down a mile into a “hole” and have to come up, so it would be a strenuous five miles. I didn’t think about it, but we ran on gravel the whole time. In thinking about my 2023 goals, I want to try a trail race, and I feel like this was a good transition into this type of change.
The race had two options. First was a 5K that ran around the hole. The second (which I did) was the 5K plus descending a mile into the quarry and then making your way back up a mile to return to the 5K course.
There were fewer participants doing this race than the others in the six pack series, which I expected because of the course. But of the people there – they were fast! These were serious people. I don’t know how many people did the 5K only but only 75 did the 5 mile course. It was a beauitful morning! We couldn’t have had a better day, especially since they were calling for rain earlier in the week (but they are always calling for rain in Charlotte).
The emcee started the race, and we were off. They told us to follow the white truck for the 5-miler and the silver truck for the 5K. I’m way too slow for such things, so I had no idea how that happened. My biggest complaint about the race was the lack of signage. While there was definitely a path, there were many opportunities to get loss. I’m not sure if I missed part of it because at one point some of us split thinking we were going into the quarry, but then we met up with people later only to find a sign that split the 5-miler away. I’m not sure what that was, and there is no way to know since we were following people and GPS was off.
Going into the quarry was very easy. I ran down the whole way because frankly, I couldn’t get my legs to stop. It took a while, but once we were down, we ran on the bottom until a sign told us to turn around. There was a really pretty pond at the bottom, too.
The ascent was a challenge – the whole point of the race. I was amazed at how many people I saw being able to run up all of it or most of it. I tried to run a little bit, but I think I was making better progress speed walking. It was hard, and that’s all there was to it!
Eventually, I made it up and back onto the 5K course. I tried to resume my 60 second run / 30 second walk intervals, but it took me a while to get my heart rate down. Eventually, I was able to resume my intervals and kept steady until the end.
There were many MM employees volunteering to help with the event and tell people which way to go. At one point, a man mentioned that there was a lookout if we went off the course slightly. I took him up on it and got the below picture. It was a really beautiful view! That was what we had to go down and back up! You can see the people in the distance making their way back up.
The rest of the 5K was gravel roads and nothing to specific to mention. You have to be careful running on gravel since you could turn an ankle easily.
Even though I finished 5/5 in my division, I was really proud of myself. My final time was 56:00 for a hard 5-mile course. I got my final cup as my medal and completed my challenge. Even though it was a hard course, I felt really strong at the end and was pleased. I’m starting to feel like my training is paying off and that I’m getting better.
There was a lot of cool equipment at the end of the race. I got my picture in front of one of them – a three year old boy would know what it is called, but I’m not sure!
Going forward I have some big races coming up – Cannonball Half, City of Oaks Marathon, Kiawah Mararthon, and then Dopey 2023!
Running is a great release and is something I really enjoy doing. For some weird reason, I love it. I’m glad that I’ve taken time this year to dive deeper into a hobby that I enjoy for what it is. Even if I’m not really good, I do love it, and that’s what’s important. The Six Pack Series allowed me to experience some of the most popular local races that happen (almost) annually in Charlotte. It was neat to feel like I was a part of the Charlotte running community, which is right in my backyard.
Read my race recaps from the other races: