by Carl Perkins, Race Director
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked “What is a PHUNT?,” I’d be in the middle of planning my next trail running vacation. Since I’m writing to UltraRunning magazine in a feeble attempt to explain PHUNT, a savvy reader will deduce that the nickels have yet to appear. To be fair, PHUNT was never my baby. Thirteen long years ago, it was the brainchild of the original race directors, Phil and Hunt. By literally smashing their first names together, Phil and Hunt created a humdinger of a fat-ass 50K that was held on the first Saturday in January at the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area in Elkton, Maryland. Fair Hill is a 5,600 acre state park nestled between Philadelphia and Baltimore that contains over 80 miles of sweet single track.
Three years ago, Phil and Hunt moved out of the area, and there was a distinct possibility that PHUNT would cease to exist. Call it an act of stupidity, or a sense of obligation to one of the first 50Ks I ran. Regardless, I raised my hand to assume the role of race director.
PHUNT has seen a lot of changes over the past three years, as the no-frills, no-charge fat-ass morphed into a mandatory fee race with full amenities, finishers medals, inspirational signs every two miles on the course, and professional photographers on course. There is still one constant, which in my opinion makes PHUNT so special. Simply put, it’s the volunteers willing to give up their weekend to sit out in the middle of winter, and the kick-ass trail runners that can show up on a day that offers a low of 6 degrees, and a high of 30 degrees. I guess we’re doing something right, as nearly 500 runners signed up for the 2016 event, which also includes a 25k race. The 2017 PHUNT 50k Trail Race will be run on January 14.