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Headlining What’s Up in Ultra on our 2023 UltraRunning Calendar is a classic 50k in Alabama, a 135-mile race in Minnesota recognized as one of the “World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges,” a former Western States Golden Ticket race just north of Los Angeles and as always, much more than we can possibly cover.
Starting off in Huntsville, Alabama, we have the 29th annual Mountain Mist 50k on Saturday, January 28. This classic, early season 50k is sold out with an astonishing 484 entrants. Three entrants have completed the race in excess of 20 times: Sally Brooking of Marietta, Georgia, is going for her 23rd finish and Randy McFarland and Lonnie Vogan, both of Huntsville, are looking for their 27th finishes. The race is a single-loop course that features a tour of the Monte Sano State Park which means “Mountain of Health” in Spanish, and the Huntsville Land Trust Trails of North Alabama. The 2022 edition of the race had the 12th highest number of finishers in a North America ultra. Read: Emotions Soar at the 26th Mountain Mist Trail Run by Race Director Dink Taylor.
Heading north to International Falls, Minnesota, is one of the most unique and demanding ultra-endurance events on our calendar all year, the 19th Arrowhead 135 starting on Monday, January 30. Whether you choose to bike, ski or run, this point-to-point 135-miler is sure to test even the most seasoned veterans, with the average finish rate right around 50%. The race starts at the scenic Arrowhead State Snowmobile Trail in International Falls, paralleling US Highway 53 for most of the race, and ends in Tower, Minnesota, at the Fortune Bay Casino. The most challenging element of the race is arguably the frigid temperatures. The high on Monday is forecasted to be -3 degrees. The low? -16 degrees. Read: My Arrowhead 135: Lunar Eclipse by Bonnie Busch. Live tracking here.
Find warmth by heading southwest to sunny Southern California and the former Western States Golden Ticket race, the Sean O’Brien 100k/50-miler/50k on Saturday in Malibu. While it hasn’t held the Golden Ticket race status since 2018, this course in the Malibu Mountains just outside of Los Angeles still brings the heat. The marquee 100k collects roughly 13,000 feet of climbing, the 50-miler picks up just over 10,000 feet and the 50k slots in at around 6,000 feet. Runners will enjoy incredible views up and down the California coastline and beautiful Backbone Trail singletrack sections.
You should also check out the NC Fat Ass 50k in Ellerbee, North Carolina (thanks to UltraRunning reader Sean for the heads up), the Orcas Island 50k on Orcas Island, Washington, the Arches Ultra 50k/50-miler in Moab, Utah, the Skydive Ultra Run 50k/50-miler/100k/100-miler in Clewiston, Florida, and Running the Rose 54/108k in Tyler, Texas.
What’s Up in Ultra in your running community this weekend? Check back for results on Sunday in our Ultra Weekend Recap and don’t forget to subscribe to stay in the know with all things UltraRunning Magazine.