Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Uwharrie Quest for Clay

"Celebrating Human Spirit"
 Photo courtesy of Michael Mahan, from his post here

Getting to be that time of year again. In just 24 days runners from all over NC and beyond will make the annual pilgrimage to Uwharrie to spend the day in the woods.

In anticipation, I started googling around "the internets" and stumbled across Michael Mahan's blog, which shows him and his crew making the 600 awards for the race. The bowls, jars and medallions are hand crafted from clay dug from NC the area, so after the race you get to take home a little piece of the Uwharrie NC mountains. This is fitting, as often the Uwharrie trail will extract a piece of you.

Photo courtesy of Michael Mahan

Even if you are not into ceramics, make sure you check it out his blog. It is really interesting and photos are gorgeous.  I absolutely love the  raw simplicity of carved runner that is on this years awards.
Michael is calling the awards "jars" (for the 20 and 40 miler), but to me that's a mug, and I'll be drinking coffee out of that baby (if I am lucky enough to finish).

This will be my 3rd year doing the Uwharrie 40. The first year I really worried about finishing, the second year I was worried about going fast. But this year I am feeling much more relaxed, and really looking forward to just being out there, mile after mile of rocks, trees, streams, and more rocks. No iPhones or cars or computer screens. I know that if my legs fail me, it probably only means a relaxing walk to finish.

Some of the early prototypes
Photo courtesy of Michael Mahan, from his post here

I can't image a different finisher's award for Uwharrie. Some manufactured trinket would seem so out of place. The trail is very rough and raw, cutting through miles of untamed forest.
It isn't some well groomed trail in a state park, and it is a world away from pavement.
When you are knee deep in a ice cold stream, trying to remember the last time you saw the trail, or even another person, you can't help feeling a special connection to mother earth.

So that well crafted hunk of earth is the perfect thing to take home to remind you of that connection, and symbolizes what makes the Uwharrie Mountain Run special.

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