By Alex McDonald
My name is Alex and I guess you can say I am an official Quarry Crusher veteran, since I’ve done the Columbia, SC event four times. I even stepped up and did the double in 2015. That’s probably diagnostic of some severe psychopathology, which is convenient since I’m also a psychiatrist and an author of a blog documenting my “illness” (http://tourdeblueshoes.com). They are also offering events in Birmingham, Atlanta and Baltimore in 2016, so you guys better get ready. Here are some quick “tips”.
1. Run some Hills.
I know this is shocking. I should charge by the hour for this precious bit of insight. But, in case you haven’t noticed, the quarry is a continual 10 percent grade for like a mile and a half. Ten percent doesn’t sound so bad, right? Pull out your old plastic protractor and it looks pretty easy. News flash… it’s not. Go out and find the steepest hill in your neighborhood … it won’t even come close. If it does, it’s probably less than a quarter mile long. Believe me, I’ve tried. Doing hill repeats will at least give you some strength come race day, and possibly prevent you from an extended case of the walksies, which nearly everyone does anyway. I also recommend throwing gravel on your hill, strapping on a 50 pound backpack and a portable heater to fully replicate the QC experience.
2. Become mentally tough
In 2012 I was begging for mercy and thanking whatever deity I could for getting me out of the quarry alive. By 2015 I got to the top and decided it would be a really good idea just to throw myself back in the pit all over again. See, I am a significantly disturbed individual. Seriously, the double crusher (or even the single) is not for the faint of heart. It will get pretty brutal. If you get misty during Frozen or tear up during Michael Bolton songs, this probably isn’t for you. Go out and run a hard trail 5k, or a marathon in the mountains or something else difficult.
3. Come prepared part I – Drinking and drugs
I like to do drugs. Preferably the legal, non-narcotic, ibuprofen type. Your legs will thank you for the beating they are about to receive. The quads get it on the way down, and the glutes/hamstrings on the way out. Fried up overeasy. They have plenty of water on the course but you may want to bring a bottle if you are the overheating type. I double fist the water cups like a sorority girl at a USC game. It’s not pretty but it gets me through.
4. Come prepared Part II
Don’t be a noob. Don’t wear headphones – this is supposed to be an experience, not a chance to wall yourself off with Justin Bieber’s greatest hits. Plus, they have rocking, quarry-themed music at the bottom of the pit anyway (i.e Rock You Like a Hurricane, For Those About to Rock, etc). The shirts are awesome at this race, just don’t wear them on the course – it means you’re a total noob. Yes, it’s very middle school. Disclaimer: the person giving you this advice is a total nerd himself.
5. Have fun!
I have a maniacal competitive streak, so I may have overstated the struggle of this race for the average, non-psychotic person. If you take it easy, I assume it’s not that bad. I’ve seen people smiling, taking pictures. Looks like a blast. Trust me is there is no shame in walking. I was power striding up the hill like an overeager soccer mom on my first try. Already looking forward to QC #5 in 2016!
For those interested, my report on the double crusher this year – http://tourdeblueshoes.com/2015/04/23/quarry-crusher-run-olympia-columbia-sc-41815/