Set against the twin backdrops of the Saint Croix River and Afton State Park, the 25K course (repeated for the 50K) winds through a virtual guidebook of picturesque Minnesota trail running, from twisty single track to long, rock-covered climbs to wide prairies.
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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.
As race week approached, I evaluated my year-long goal of running TRT in less than 24 hours, flip-flopping on whether or not it should be my goal. I had earned a silver buckle the year before for finishing the course in under 30 hours and now, I wanted that sub-24 gold.
Carnage. That is the only word to describe the effects of the heatwave which enveloped the east coast. Dreams were destroyed. Months of training, unless they included sauna work, were essentially for naught. Hell, organizers cancelled the New York City Triathlon due to extreme heat advisories that same weekend.
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.
Several of the fifty 24-Hour runners hoped to put up a performance worthy of garnering a spot on a National 24-Hour team. Competition for a spot on the US Men’s 24-Hour team was intense, as a handful of runners vied for the honor of representing their country in Albi, France this coming October.
After picking up our fabulous medals at the raucous finish line, we were treated to a great spread of beer, pizza, rice, beans, pork and assorted goodies. The course was difficult but accessible and the volunteers were plentiful and enthusiastic, which adds up to one hell of a great event.
The views from nearly every trail in the Lake Tahoe region are nothing short of breathtaking. This marked the inaugural year of the Big Chief 50K where for the first time, runners would be able to link a number of trails on one single 50k loop while experiencing every type of terrain with unparalleled views of Lake Tahoe along the way.
We had a very snowy, wet winter in St. Louis. Couple that with epic amounts of snow up north, and you end up with the perfect storm. So, for the first time in six years (and the first time since I’ve been RD), we had to invoke the beloved “Quadruple Bypass” route.
Manitou’s Revenge is run through some sections of the Catskills designated as wilderness areas. By the time runners reach their drop bags, they’ve already run a 50k. What follows is an unholy mess – the Devil’s Path – featuring steep and technical climbs and descents over four of its peaks, some of them more than a bit sketchy.
I ran the first edition of Rock The Ridge (RTR) in 2013, and the race has grown into the largest annual fundraiser for the Mohonk Preserve, a private, non-profit land trust that maintains over 7,000 acres of open space in the Shawangunk Mountains in New York.
The scene in the finish area of the Ice Age Trail 50 is a living expression of what most of us love about the ultrarunning community. Runners and spectators alike welcome the finishers – and those who didn’t make it – as they would a friend or family member. If you’re wearing a bib, someone is looking after you.
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.
For years, the consensus had been that Mike Morton’s 100-mile record, set in 2012, was invincible. But this year, Brett Sanborn beat it by 12 minutes in an astounding 13:20:18. Given that it was a very hot weekend with minimal cloud cover, Brett’s performance was all the more remarkable.
The second annual Hellbender 100-Miler turned out to be a huge learning experience for me. Two weeks prior to race day I made a comment on Facebook about how the attention of a race should not always be on the front runners, but on those at the back of the pack. This race would hit home for me what my comment really meant.
The Teanaway Country 100 stands toe-to-toe with those 100-milers that are notoriously hard. I think that in time, it will be viewed as a low altitude Hardrock. The most obvious factor and where the comparisons to Hardrock begin, is the elevation profile.
This is my seventh Marathon des Sables, and it took me three days to write this story. Three days of heat, sand, wind and miles of stony plateau. Three days of acclimatization, digestion really, of what the desert had in store.
The Wild Duluth 100K and 50K races were created in 2009 to show off a new segment of the Superior Hiking Trail that spans the entire length of the City of Duluth, Minnesota, staying predominantly on the ridge overlooking the mighty Lake Superior. The trail is spectacular, and the views are plentiful as the trail crosses rocky overlooks, waterfalls and creeks, under stately white pines.
It’s difficult to top a magical Pacific Northwest island when it comes to trail running. Race weekend is a special experience, from riding the ferry, experiencing the slow pace and artsy vibe of island life, cruising along some of the greenest forest trails you’ll ever see and soaking in panoramic summit views from Seattle to Canada and the Cascade Mountains to Puget Sound.