"Will Return Next Year" By Tim Mooney, Buford GA

This was my second Grandfather Mtn Marathon and I felt confident in my ability as we drove into Boone. This wasn't the case last year when my two GMM veteran "buddies" thoroughly enjoyed the white face of fear I developed as we drove the course the evening before the event. We live in north of Atlanta and train on hilly, but not mountainous, terrain. We've trained for and ran Hogpen Gap several times and still the sight of Grandfather makes me gulp and wonder. This year was better than last year because I knew what to expect: the gravel roads that are welcomed for their shade, but not for their loose footing; the screaming downhills that are knee killers as much as the uphills are quad busters; reaching mile 20 and thinking, "I only have a 10k left", then realizing a 10k is a long, long way in this event; the volunteers that make each water stop an oasis for more than just fluids; the sound of bagpipes and table-top snares off in the distance that call you and let you know you CAN make it. Like last year, my buddies and I finished Grandfather by riding our bicycles off the mountain and 9 miles back to our camp in Boone. This is one event that we will return to year after year because of the challenge, but more so because of the organizers, volunteers, fellow runners, Highland Games and the people of Boone. See you next year!