At last, I found a race held in the shadow of the COVID-19 lockdown, and there was no series of ominous email warnings followed by a reluctant cancellation notice. The Loco Challenge race series held in parts of the Lassen National Forest on June 6 in north central California.
Author Gary Dudney
Fort Ord Trail runs take place in Monterey, California, on the first weekend of February each year. It’s just a short drive south from San Francisco and runners can choose from a 100K, 50K, 25K or 10K, or run your ultra and let the rest of the family run the shorter distances.
Runners love Pinhoti. It seemed like everybody I talked to at packet pickup was either returning to run this race in Alabama because they couldn’t get enough of it or they were out to avenge a DNF. Pinhoti is like a flame in the night – drawing in moths, but also, ready to burn them into oblivion.
Burning River has always been a race with a heart of irony. The race celebrates health, strength, vitality, natural beauty and of course, the Cuyahoga River. Yet 50 years ago, the actual events that led to the Cuyahoga earning the name “burning river” were tragic and ugly.
The format at Forbidden Forest is not the usual 100-mile race with a 30-hour cutoff. It’s a no-one-DNFs 30-hour run with the win going to whomever runs the farthest, and special buckles for everyone that manages 45 laps of the 2.23 mile loop, or 100.35 miles. Consequently, the race was a mix of runners with widely varying goals and dreams.
The Prairie Spirit Trail Ultra 100 Mile in eastern Kansas is a rails-to-trails course that follows an old route of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad through the small town of Garnett. A brick depot building, built in 1934, serves as a key aid station halfway between the race start in Ottawa and Iola.
Only in its third year, race directors Valerie Abradi and Mindy Slovinsky have put together an ultra event with an old-school feeling and lots of down home charm that will simultaneously delight and challenge you. Riverlands is a great up-and-coming destination race. Put it on your calendar before the word gets out.
In its second year, the No Business 100 Mile Trail Ultra race course spills over the lower Kentucky border into Tennessee and provides the same amazing natural wonders and scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains, but, as Race Director Bryan Gajus points out, without the long lines.
At the start of the Uwharrie 100, you depart Wood Run Trail Head and are swallowed up immediately by a thick, dark, mysterious forest. Underfoot are protruding rocks and a snake pit of tangled roots, all camouflaged by a layering of dead leaves. The 20.5 mile trail, which follows a figure eight route, will prove to be an almost unbroken minefield of trip hazards.
A gentle “angelic” loop around the valley floor gives you a chance to adjust to the altitude, enjoy the pine forest and valley meadows, and picturesque mountain cabins and ski chalets. The “fire” comes when you begin the 18.5-mile out and back over the top of the ski resort and down the other side, topping out at about 11,000 feet where you feel like the sun is microwaving your exposed skin.
The race’s name, “Burning River,” is of course ironic, harkening back to the numerous times the Cuyahoga River, once one of America’s most polluted waterways, actually caught on fire.
Industry representatives generally put the lifespan of a shoe between 400 and 600 miles. The mileage you personally can expect to get, however, will vary depending on factors such as your weight, the surface you run on, your foot strike tendencies, whether you switch off pairs from one run to another and of course the resilience of the materials and design.
The San Francisco 100 pits you against the elements of nature but at the same time reveals all Nature’s glory in the hills and coastlines of the Marin Headlands just across the Golden Gate Bridge from the “City by the Bay.” Tony Bennett might have left his heart in San Francisco, but the 100 milers left their blood, sweat and tears in Marin.
How you handle aid stations can have a significant impact on how well your race goes. If you are speeding through a 50k looking for a PR, the emphasis at the aid station should be on how quickly and efficiently you can load up on food and water and get back out on the course. Taking the food with you, for instance, can save a lot of time.
There’s truly gold in them thar hills and it ain’t the shiny kind. It’s the super-efficient, multi-faceted, demanding workout kind that hills deliver. Lifting yourself up the slopes is strength training. Cycling through the hard climbs and descents is like interval training. Throw in some uphill sprints and you replicate speed and fartlek training as well. The trip up the hill puts a tremendous load on your hamstrings and calves. The trip down will strengthen your quads. Muscles, tendons and ligaments in the lower body are all strengthened in concert with one another.
The lottery for the 2015 running of the Western States 100 Mile, the granddaddy of this country’s 100-mile trail runs,…
I could see the plank was tilted. I could see the slip marks in the black mud on the end of the board. I could see the footprints next to the plank where other runners had stepped to avoid the danger. I was telling myself, “Don’t put your foot on the board.” But I put my foot there anyway…
Ultrarunning is an endurance sport and as such it requires you to push yourself up to your limits. As you approach these limits and work to overcome them, you will find yourself facing similar physical and mental challenges over and over. Ultrarunning is testing you to see if you are learning from your mistakes, if you are equipping yourself to better deal with these challenges.