Georgia Jewel

Georgia Jewel
// Race director and author Jenny Baker. // One of the few flat spots on the mountainous Georgia Jewel. // Felix Chea, AKA Trail Angel, with friend Giancarlo Motta Nicolicchia. // Nicole Williams, back right, with Keith Cartwright. The course takes runners under a waterfall.

The Georgia Jewel is a gem of a trail running race held every September in North Georgia. It consists of 18, 35, 50 and 100 mile distances. The trail racing community is a fun loving bunch of people who enjoy pushing themselves and finding out what they are capable of achieving. I’m a trail runner and am friends with the race directors, Jenny and Franklin Baker.

Jenny and I talked about how DemerBox could play a role at this years Jewel. Jenny picks up the story below!

We decided we’d gift two DemerBoxes, one to a volunteer and one to a runner. But it couldn’t be just a random drawing or even something often measured at a race like a podium finish. Nope, we decided we’d secretly watch and listen for the runner who exemplified what DemerBox and the Jewel are all about all…generosity and kindness.

And so, we observed and waited, listened and stalked social media to find our inspirational runner. Only, we couldn’t narrow it down to just one. It was ridiculously hard to choose from the flood of beautiful stories so instead… We picked two.

// A runner digs deep on Mt. Baker, a dastardly hill at the end of the race that features an average 38% grade.

One of the runners, Nicole Williams, drove in from Illinois to run her first ultra (a race over 30 miles). She met up with several friends and planned to have an amazing weekend running in the woods. As the day began and the sun peaked over the mountains Nicole found herself running with another ultra hopeful, Keith Cartwright, a runner from Virginia. The cool morning turned to a brutally hot afternoon and 15 miles in with 20 left to go, Keith couldn’t run. He was out of water and began feeling dizzy, solemnly telling Nicole he didn’t know how he’d make it two more miles to the next aid station. In a moment of beautiful kindness, she told him he didn’t have to.

She sat him on a rock, ran the two miles to the aid station, grabbed water and ran two miles back to Keith…and then finished a 35-mile race, with 39 miles. That’s what makes trail runners so dang special. Nicole was willing to miss the time cut-offs and sacrifice her race goals in order to help another. That type of self-sacrifice is inspiring and worthy of recognition.

The second runner whose name kept (and keeps) appearing in post-race reporting is Felix Chea. We’re pretty sure “Trail Angel” has been used more than once when referring to this guy. He started out volunteering at an aid station, moved to being a pacer for his friend who ran the 50 miler (but really became a pacer for pretty much everyone else on the trail) and then, as if those weren’t enough, drove back to volunteer longer at the aid station. He carried Vietnamese coffee in his pack and shared with at least three runners, poured his water into another runner’s water bottle and took care of every runner at each aid station they passed.

This guy was talked about more in race reports than anyone else, with several people attributing their finish to his help! Felix embodies what generous living looks like and deserves all the gratitude we can give!

And these were just two of the inspiring stories of kindness that came from the trail last weekend. When we step in the woods and away from the ranking and success measurements of the world, we remember that at the end of the day, we’re all people who are worthy of receiving and capable of giving kindness. Thanks Felix and Nicole for exemplifying what it looks like to live generous and sacrificial lives.

Jenny Baker, foreword by James Demer // Race Director and author Jenny Baker giving last minute instructions before the start of the race. // Après race is for sitting and enjoying a cold drink and the camaraderie of trail buddies.

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