Love Rolls Over the Hills

Director’s Comments on Louisville’s Love’n the Hills (LLTH) 2005

We made a race on hills, and they came to run. From as far as Florida, Wisconsin, even Washington State (OK, so Mark may have had other reasons to be here). We all had one thing in common. We love to run, especially on hills in the woods. Over 50 people finished the 50K roller coaster, many just under the 8 ½ hour cutoff (9 ½ with the early start) and one person in just under 5 hours. In our second year the race easily exceeded my expectations, drawing plenty of regional talent. And the runners were good too. Our super talent came in the form of volunteers and sponsors. They gave us the backbone we needed to put on what I believe was a quality event that will only grow with time We owe them our recognition and thanks (see below).

The depth of frontrunners for this year’s run was boosted by some last minute arrivals from the Cincinnati area. John Hemsky showed up with Tom Possert, last year’s winner. Mark Hartinger, from Shoreline, WA, was apparently visiting in the area and just popped down as well. Ron Ross, Roy Heger, and Tedd Niemann rounded out the powerful Ohio contingent. Not to be outdone, the south showed up in force and its name was Youngren. Rob and Kathy Youngren put on a great couple’s show. They seemed unfazed by the elevation changes-- looking smooth and strong every time that I saw them along the course. Indiana’s Russ Goodman might have been swinging through the course on trees in his spidey-like tights. He lurked just behind the leaders waiting for any who might fall prey to their own fatigue.

As the course unwound, Hemsky took control of the front and hung on for first place in 4:57. He was followed by an unflinching Rob Youngren in second. Possert eventually succumbed and was passed by Goodman and Hartinger. At the finish and after 5 hours of running the top 5 were separated by only 25 minutes. Following them Kathy Youngren surged across the finish line in 5:44 to win the female division.

We watched runners finish for another 3 hours. Many looked tired… but all looked proud. Some were amazingly exuberant. Ingrid Honzak (56!) immediately rushed to congratulate her friend after crossing the finish line. After 31 miles and many thousands of feet of climb and descent she looked and acted as if she was ready to head out for a party. The finish area of an ultra is an inspirational place to be – especially now that I could watch without the haze of fatigue I usually carry at a finish line. The folks around the finish line were talking about who would receive this year’s "best love" award. We were all rooting for a couple who had decided to enter as a 2-person relay. They had married at the forest, and she had always lived in the area. I declared that they had it wrapped up as long as they finished the run under the cut-off. I turned around and saw Mark Tucker. He had driven up to the finish while Sandy Tucker ran the last leg. Soon she popped up the hill smiling… and we knew who were the winners of best love.

My non-running brother-in-law Jake (after volunteering in the kitchen) declared that he would be back next year… to run!

If you don’t want to wait that long, go to Herb’s run in Morehead, Kentucky next month. Here’s the website for KUTS. Runners who complete LLTH, KUTS, and Arches (in November) will be eligible for some sort of special award that Herb and I are working on. Here’s Herb’s website:

http://people.morehead-st.edu/fs/h.hedgec/kyultra9.html

And now a few words about our sponsors…

Jake Oxnard commanded the kitchen Friday night for our great spaghetti dinner. It was cooked by Carroll Grossman. Cherokee Road Runners, Ken Combs / New Balance Shoe Store, and Vasque Shoes sponsored the solo 50K. Jefferson County Memorial Forest in the person of Tonya Swan supported us throughout the planning and running of the event, and gave us use of all areas of the forest as well as the Horine Manor House. Brenda Gutmann coordinated the aid station volunteers and supplies. Robin Grossman wrote and updated the race website, and took over almost all of the clerical work associated with the race. John Grossman baked the "Best Love" cake that was awarded to Sandy and Mark Tucker. Pete Schuler directed the synchronous relay version of LLTH, and handled many of the logistical and legal aspects of the run. Paul Owen rallied the boy scouts that took care of the runners at the Bearcamp Road aid station. John Stone took pictures. Betsy Ruhe single-handedly "womanned" the surprise Tom Wallace Aid Station. Dave Lawhorn helped mark the course and gave out water and directions during the arduous Mitch McConnell loop. Meg Westlake helped with dinner Friday night and at the Scott’s Gap aid station, along with Kathy Senton. The wonderful soup, made by Jim Whaley, was graciously served by Barbara Martin and Dianne Ernst. Michael Zoeller made the vases. PrintTex of Louisville donated the toboggans and mugs which were a big hit! Thanks everybody!

-Eric