“We’re just a bunch of people who like doing things that are crazy challenging. I like to be challenged - to see how far you can push yourself,” said Tom Griffith, team captain.
Griffith first heard of the relay in a Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) newsletter. He got a team together and they began training through marathons and trail running.
“23 teams (12 people per team) competed. You were seeded by your best 10k times, so this being our first we were seeded toward the back. We decided to call ourselves, ‘the Dirty Dozen.”
The team featured several locals from Calhoun, including Tom Griffith, Michelle Griffith, David Carroll, Gregg Ellis and Pepe Loco (Jose Rivas).
Also on the team were Cartersville natives Tripp Shaw, Pat Pultzer and John Latimer. Tom Dudley and Christine Dudley (Greenville, S.C), Nick Schuster (Woodstock), Brad Still (Nashville, Tenn.), and Greg Tardy (Greensboro, N.C.) rounded out the team of 13.
The relay started in Brevard, North Carolina and finished at the NOC in Bryson City, North Carolina. According to Griffith there was no support along the trails; no water stops, first aid stations, emergency kits.
“It was just you and the trail,” he said.
“We did 48700 feet of climbing which is like climbing Mount Everest from sea level 1.7 times. Started at 9 a.m. on friday and finished at 9 p.m. Saturday night.”
Those who finished the last leg found it to be a welcome sight after hours of darkness.
“Running at night was difficult. Everybody got spooked. I mean, it’s the middle of the night, in Nowhere, North Carolina - no cell service, GPS doesn’t work, no houses or houses that looked like they could have been on Deliverance.”
The Dirty Dozen finished with a total time of 35 hours and 50 minutes and were greeted by music, food and drinks at the NOC.
“We were lucky no one suffered any major injuries. Greg Tardy got an knee injury on his nine mile leg- his route dropped 4000 feet of rocks, roots and rain - but he finished.”
Griffith’s method for teamwork paid off at the finish.
“By having teams of three everyone on the team could be done after eight or nine hours where as the traditional method is having the first runner stay up all night to wait for his or her next leg. We all got more rest and performed better. At the beginning we were a little slower but we had a fresh team coming in so we started out towards the back and ended up eighth overall,” Griffith said.
“Five of 12 people ran the most they’d ever run,” he said.
“Our next race scheduled is in October in Nashville but we are planning on doing some other things before then,” he added.
The Dirty Dozen wants to do different types of racing, not just running endurance events but bike relays and adventure racing.
If you “like doing things that are crazy challenging” then now you know, “there’s a group of people that enjoy this kind of stuff in Calhoun and we are always looking for others to joins us.”