My sister lives near Morrow Mountain State Park so I’ve known about the Albemarle area for over 40 years. In fact, my niece got married on the top of Morrow Mountain. What I didn’t know about this area until I got into running was this awesome running store called Vac & Dash. Vac & Dash is a unique store. They sell vacuum cleaners and running shoes. They also are a UPS shipping outlet, sell and repair bikes, time races and sell disc golf supplies.
Back in 2012 when I was doing a race a month, I stumbled upon Vac & Dash and the awesome Run the Valley half marathon. I was very intrigued about running to the top of Morrow Mountain. I signed up and ran with a new friend from my Galloway running group. I wasn’t at all concerned with speed at that time so I went into that race with a very relaxed attitude. It was a hoot! Beautiful scenery and very well run race. It is the only race to date that I have placed in my age group. (disclaimer: I got 3rd place in my age group…and there were only 3 of us in the group. I got a trophy though. LOL)
Fast forward 5 years and my oldest and one of my dearest running friends, Lisa, messaged me and ask me to join her in the Fellowship of the Idiot Run. The Fellowship of the Idiot Run started back in 2003 with a few friends getting together for their last long run before the Myrtle Beach Marathon. They started at the YMCA in Albemarle and ran to the top of Morrow Mountain and back. Every year since then, idiots have gotten together for this awesome long run. This year there were 174 runners making it over 600 official idiots since the run’s inception. Fellowship was 19.7 miles and there was a hard cut-off at 2 hours to make it the top. I jumped at the chance to run such a fun run with such a great friend and said yes immediately. However, when I learned about that hard cut-off, I worked myself up and became very anxious. That meant I had to average about a 12:00 minute mile. Not too much of a worry on a flat course but going up the mountain…. Hmmmm, I didn’t know if I could make it or not.
I really, really wanted to become an Official Idiot and earn my shirt. I tried to keep a positive attitude and tried very hard to just enjoy the run and not stress so much about pace. My good friend Claudia told me to run 30:30 intervals if I had to on the steepest incline (30 second run: 30 second walk). So that was my plan.
The run starts at 5:30am and since my sister lives about 25 minutes from the start, we traveled to her house on Friday night. I stayed up way too late visiting but somehow managed to wake up at 4:00 and make it out the door by 4:30. I was in Albemarle just before 5:00 and had plenty of time to use the bathroom, find Lisa, and check in.
Peter, the owner of Vac & Dash, welcomed us all, said a few words and then it was a simple, Ready, Set, and Go. We were off! Here we are just before the start.
The first few miles were in the small town of Albemarle. Since it was so early there wasn’t anyone on the streets except us. It was very dark. I had my reflective vest on for safety and I also wore my new headlamp. By the way, I highly recommend the Petzl Headlamp. I love the USB charging feature and it is very comfortable. It stays put on my forehead and doesn’t bounce at all. The only thing I wish is that it had a blinking feature on the back some way. That would be cool and even safer. There was one hill early on in the run and it was very tough. Lisa and I were talking and I was having trouble completing my sentences.
The next miles passed effortlessly. We talked and talked and enjoyed meeting other idiots out for this 19.7 mile run so early in the morning. Before long, we started seeing the sun begin to rise. It was a beautiful orange. The weather was on the chilly side but not too bad. I like chilly for a run so I was in heaven. There really wasn’t a wind to speak of at all.
Lisa’s whole family came out to support her and they were blasting cool songs and ringing cow bells, and hootin’ and hollerin’ and pretty much being the very best supporters ever!
We stopped a few times for pictures and I walked a few steps when I was drinking or taking a Gu but for the most part, I ran all the way. I didn’t even have to use the 30:30 plan to make it up the mountain. I was so surprised I was able to run the whole way up. I was all smiles coming in at the top of the mountain!
Here’s a shot that Lisa’s husband, Wes, captured of me.
And here we are at the top. This shot was from the race site and we must have been looking at Wes.
And just look at this amazing shot Wes got of the sunrise! Breathtaking! We really ran to heaven that morning!
After these photos and a quick Gu and bathroom break, we headed back down the mountain. The run back was just as awesome. Morrow Mountain State Park is so peaceful.
The roads were a little busier when we got back into Albemarle but not too bad. The directions were clearly marked and before we knew it we were back at the Y. We had earned our shirts and now were official idiots!
Note, In years past someone was pictured holding their shirt upside down by mistake and now everyone does it. An Idiot Tradition!
From the race you get that awesome shirt and a funny idiot certificate. Wes however, couldn’t have us complete a run of this magnitude and not get a medal. He designed this medal and got them for us. Lisa was Idiot 1 and I was Idiot 2. Lisa’s daughter made the buttons for us.
I had the most fun ever. Thank you so much to Lisa and her whole family for including me!
Thanks so much to Peter from Vac&Dash and thank you to all the volunteers that make the run possible year after year. I certainly want to be a returning Idiot next year and beyond!
When you are planning your 2018 race calendar, you really should include Fellowship of the Idiot Run. If something comes up and you can’t make it, you can’t get a refund. But somehow I think you’ll be okay with that. There isn’t a race fee at all. Completely free!
Do however, make sure to make a donation to help support this remarkable run. Make sure to save some time after the run and go on down street to Vac & Dash. If you’re lucky like me you might just find something on the clearance rack!
A Hinson Singlet with the year I ran on it! Woot Woot! Best $4 I’ve ever spent! (Vac & Dash does the apparel for Hinson.) I also got the red one and it was only $4 as well. I’ll be stylin’ for sure this summer!
Happy Running Friends!