By CINDY CROSBY
Local runner Chris Varnadoe set a new course record recently when he finished an epic 212-mile Devil’s Doorknob run in 67:52 hours in Hell Hole Swamp in Francis Marion Forest.
Varnadoe was the only runner to complete the 212-mile race over the weekend and one of three to ever finish the entire course.
The race began Thursday May 28 and finished Sunday May 31. The course was unbelievably difficult with trails full of bugs, snakes, mud and shin-deep water.
The Hell Hole 100 and ultra-marathon, sponsored by Eagle Endurance and directed by Chad Haffa, offers distances from 16.3 miles up to 212 miles. The race consists of eight 18-mile loops and four 16-mile loops.
The course is a horse trail that consists of a single-track trail and dirt fire roads. According to Varnadoe, there were five runners attempting to complete the 212-mile run.
Varnadoe began running in 2016 but only began running in ultra-marathons (any distance over 26.2 miles) in 2018. To date, he has completed six 100-milers, one 140-miler, one 155-miler and now the 212-miler.
“I love the challenge of the long races,” said Varnadoe. “I enjoy the mental toughness it takes to complete the longer races. It becomes more than just being physically fit, but even more mentally tough. I enjoy the gritty races and enjoy races that are known to be hard to complete. My races motivate me to train. I know that it sounds crazy, but I enjoy 50k-100k races; however, I crave the 100+ mile distances.
“I typically run every day,” said Varnadoe. “If I need a recovery day, I just preform a recovery run which is running at an easier pace and a lower heart rate. Sometimes I run two-a-days (early in the morning and after work) because depending on the distance of the race, I must run higher mileage weeks. Some weeks may be 100-plus miles per week.”
Varnadoe credits the support of his crew for his success in the Devil’s Doorknob.
“This race was unsupported for Thursday and Friday, which means that there are no aid stations and only support from my crew,” said Varnadoe. “My crew consists of my wife, Tiffini, and daughter, Braylee, who go to every race. They provide me with anything from ice to food, along with anything I may want or need. They follow me from point to point, stopping along the way if needed, and stay the entire event. I want to thank them for everything they do for me. I also want to thank my family and friends who check on me both during the race and after.”