The Queen and Princess of Stone Mountain

I really enjoy a good run alone. However, a lot of times when I go on long training runs, I appreciate when a friend can come along. It is getting harder and harder to do as I train for the UltraBeast as most people do not want to run 15-20 miles on any given Saturday. I was thrilled when Andi Hardy told me she could join me. I knew that we would probably have a similar pace and I knew that she would push me. Both of those things happened, but so much more happened that inspired me to write today.

First of all, she provided us with homemade sandbags to climb the mountain with. I have been meaning to buy materials and make one for weeks. Having her show up with a special one just for me was an awesome way to start the day. For those of you that don’t know. I earned the nickname “Princess” on a recent trip down to Florida when I bailed our campsite in the middle of the night to find a hotel room. I took ownership of that and wear my nickname proudly.

A sandbag fit for a princess

Our goal was to run the approximate 4 mile loop of trail without the sandbags, then go up and down the 1 mile 1,000 foot elevation mountain trail with the sandbags. Then repeat as much as needed. Stone Mountain is a very popular walking, hiking, and running area so I expected a few stares and funny comments. What we got instead was tons of encouragement and we ended up being living billboards for what obstacle racing is all about. People would shout words of praise and wonder throughout the day, plus we ran into people who had done or were doing Tough Mudders, Superhero Scramble, Warrior Dash, and even Rogue Runner, which hasn’t event had it’s first race yet.

What most impressed me though was Andi. She is a very special individual. Allow me to explain. One of the first people we encountered was a woman who saw what we were doing and praised us for it.

I thought that was pretty cool, but I didn’t think to do what Andi did, which was to say to the woman “Do you want to carry the sandbag for a while?”

The woman agreed and while she walked with it, we talked to her about the joys of obstacle racing and then Andi gave her phone number so she could call her anytime.  People are drawn to Andi as a fit bad ass woman climbing a mountain with a sandbag. If that wasn’t enough, the ripped Spartan tshirt she was wearing had people stopping us all day. “Hey, I am signed up to do that in March”, or “I want to register for one of those, my friends are doing it”. I am not sure that Spartan realizes what a true ambassador someone like Andi is.

This brings me to another highlight of the day. When we got to the top of the mountain, I suggested we take a few pictures to send to Facebook for the “Your Push Up Challenge”. I thought the view would be really cool. Andi thought that would be great, but wouldn’t it be REALLY cool if we got on top of the gondola that carries people up and down the mountain. My immediate thoughts were “How are we going to get up there?”, How are they going to let us up there?” What if the damn thing takes off?”. Clearly, none of this bothered Andi. We told the security guards that we needed to step out to take a few photos. They wrongly assumed we meant for the view and a few seconds later, Andi was on top of the gondola! The guards were freaking out. “Get Down! That is SO far past our safety regulations!”. She did, but not before I snapped a photo.

Security be damned! We are getting our photo.

I feel really fortunate to have a friend/training partner in someone like Andi. I have decided that if I am a Princess, she is certainly a Queen.

We all seem to talk about the camaraderie and friendship we make when we go to these races. What a bonus to have someone live in my town to see on a semi regular basis.

I hope everyone can experience the same thing. So go out and find more people in your tribe and go for a run together.

Obstacle racers Andi Hardy and Matt B. Davis







Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.
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