The Warriors UltraRun stands as one of the most unique road races in the country and allows runners to recreate the escape route from the iconic 1979 cult film “The Warriors” by Walter Hill, wherein a street gang is framed for a murder and must race through the dangerous streets of NYC in order to reach their home turf in Coney Island.
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Like most of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard – as people, as a company and as members of the racing industry. As the shelter-in-place orders continued, we realized that waiting this out wasn’t an option. The Bryce Ultras at the end of May was our first opportunity to see if there was a way to hold races during the pandemic while also keeping our runners and staff safe.
Was I nervous? Absolutely. I had one week to prepare for a high elevation mountain race. But despite that aforementioned absurdity, my excitement to pin on an actual race bib completely trumped my fears, and I dove in head first without looking back.
Were it not for the circumstances of the pandemic, I would never have been shopping around for a race, but fate brought me together with the Strawberry Fields Forever 30 Hours in North Bonneville, Washington, near the Columbia River. It turned out to be a wonderfully well run and satisfying ultra with just 3,200 feet of elevation gain.
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.
It had been three days post-Quarantine Backyard Ultra when Mike Wardian and I got on the phone. I am half expecting to hear him talk about all the sleep he has gotten, but then again, it’s Wardian. He is actually walking around his neighborhood, which does not surprise me.
With virtually all races canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we “organized” a FatAss 50K for runners to celebrate on the day that Western States would have been run. Completely tongue-in-cheek, we called it the “Not Exactly Western States FatAss 50K,” (or NEWS 50K) run entirely on the Arizona Trail just north of Flagstaff, Arizona.
I ran Land Between the Lakes in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, for the first time back in 2014—it was my first trail race ever. I keep going back because LBL is more than a trail. I go back to be among friends and family who continue to believe in me, support me and encourage me.
The inaugural Sugar Badger 50/50 and Half Marathon was supposed to take place on May 30 on the Badger Trail in Wisconsin, but the universe had other plans. Not surprisingly, the race couldn’t proceed as an in-person event due to coronavirus restrictions, so Ten Junk Miles Racing converted it to a virtual version.
With virtually all springtime races canceled due to COVID-19, my wife and I ruminated about what races would look like when the restrictions were lifted. “Hey, we could do something like that! Just make everyone run solo.” With that, we hatched the concept of the MayDay! Solo 50K, to be run Fat Ass style on May 1 in Sedona, Arizona.
Despite the weather, there were 65 hardy runners entered into the USATF 50K championship race with many others in the open 50K race. Promptly at 8:30 a.m., the race started, as did an increase in the wind velocity. But ultrarunners are a strong and tenacious group, and nothing stood in their way.
Some pretty amazing things happened at Peyton’s Wild and Wacky Ultra (5K and 10x5K) this year. There were some incredibly fast times, there were first-time 50k and 5k finishers, and there was my Mom, Phyllis Moore, finishing a 5k on her 81st birthday.
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.
This was the eighth year of the FOURmidable 50K, put on by SingleTrack Running, who uses their mapping sorcery to concoct a 50k that’s not for the faint of heart. Last year, the race was the USATF 50k Championship, so naturally the field was super deep.
In a world of conveniences, why take on hard challenges? Perhaps because in the pain, misery and torture that we face in these abbreviated and self-imposed adventures, we grow empathetic and remember that we are all in it together, from the first person to the last person crossing the finish line.
In November 2019, the Lawrence Trail Hawks dedicated Sanders Saunter, their annual charity event, to 22BuddyCheck, a veteran suicide awareness organization, in honor of Colonel Christopher J. Wilson, USAR retired, who collapsed from a heart attack 2.6 miles from the 2018 Hawk Marathon finish line.
This race tested me like no other. A perfect storm of being undertrained, recovering from an injury, my own ignorance of the course and a little too much confidence in my abilities, left me a complete mess as I finally crossed the finish line 21 minutes before the cutoff.
The Plain Endurance Runs require that participants be self-sufficient for their chosen distance (100-mile or 100k)—there are no aid stations. The event is held on standard mountain trails with typical trail junction signs, but the course is not marked, requiring the runner to simply follow a map and associated directions.
At first, Escape from the Jungle, which will take place in the deep jungle of Belize during February 24–March 7, appeared to be an insanely dangerous event. The first week is called “Jungle Survival Training,” and local guides will follow each runner during the actual race, making sure participants will not…die.
The big news for Surf the Murph, now in its 11th year, was co-mingling with the Savage 100 this time around for a plethora of racing options. The Savage 100 had been held five years prior and was making another appearance for runners who wanted 100k or even better, 100 miles of autumn bliss at Murphy-Hanrehan Park in Savage, Minnesota.
With 6,500 feet of vertical gain and loss over 31 miles through the rugged and technical terrain of the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, it is understandable why race director Michael Whisman of Next Opportunity Events (NOE) cautions against making the Rough Trail 50K your first ultra.