I've talked about this on the podcast, but I don't think that I gave it the time that really deserves. Recently, I was able to run Mount Currahee. If you aren't familiar with that, it was most prominently featured in the book and subsequent HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers. Mount Currahee is the mountain that the soldiers would have to run for physical fitness training....and for punishment at times. Often times, they would run this multiple times in a day. As someone who had done PT multiple times a day, this never really meant anything to me.
One of the army units I spent a brief period of time in, was the same unit that was depicted in the book/mini-series and I had the honor of meeting a lot of those people who were portrayed...the downside was that I never read the book or saw the series until after I got out of the army. Had I been aware then, it definitely would have changed my interactions with those men. If you haven't read the book or seen the series, I can't recommend it enough.
Running Mount Currahee was something that I have always wanted to do. To honor those that came before me and because I was also a part of that unit. That opportunity came a few weeks ago, largely in part to our family vacation that took us to that part of the country.
With the logistics worked out, all that was left was doing it...or so I thought. Getting to Toccoa was a bit of adventure; mainly because roads in the south are not like they are in the north. They are generally in better condition, but often times, going from point A to point B is seldom a straight shot and the journey to Toccoa was no different. It was very scenic and if you are the outdoorsy type, there are a lot of tourist activities to do....I however, was on a mission to get to Toccoa with a car full of kids and no cell service. So you know what they say about best laid plans....
We got to Toccoa around lunchtime and decided to tour the museum first. It was so cool seeing all of the different artifacts from WW2. If you are a military history buff, it is a definite must see. After an hour or so at the museum, we made our way to Mount Currahee...
They are in the process of restoring Camp Toccoa, so we weren't able to get inside to see the actual camp, but we could through the fence. In essence, we parked our car at the trail head and after getting everyone set up for a picnic lunch, I began the run.
So remember what I said about best laid plans....as it turns out, running in the heat of a summer day in Georgia is not always advisable. The route up the mountain is, in essence, a dirt road...however, it is almost entirely uphill. There is a short stretch when you get to the top of the first hill where it levels out for a short while, but after that, it's all uphill, and not slightly either.
I'm not sure if the pictures really do it justice, but trust me when I say that it is a very difficult three miles up. I now understand why people run it in the morning. I ended up running out of water before I made it to the top, but that's more because I didn't bring that much with me (best laid plans).
For me, doing this run really changed my perspective about the Band of Brothers story. Lately, I find myself running a lot and while I was in the army, I was in really good shape, but doing this run for them, wasn't only about getting in shape...it was something more than that. It was about creating toughness and embracing something that you will hear most veterans refer to as "the suck". I have no doubt in my mind that having to run this mountain multiple times in a day, rain or shine, helped shape those men into who they became during the war and after.
For me, I felt honored to be able to do it and run that same path that those men did so many years ago. I was also bit upset with myself because it was much more difficult than I expected it to be and it was a struggle. It was a humbling experience and has helped reframe the way that I approach the remaining ultra races this year.
Stay tuned for Ultra #7 review!