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The extended Labor Day weekend often signals the proverbial end of summer, but that doesn’t mean our North American UltraRunning Calendar slows down one bit. We have an age-handicapped ultra in Tennessee, a technical mountain race covering a unique distance in Virginia, a trifecta of gravel races in Iowa and much more.
Handicapped races in ultrarunning are typically rare, so it’s exciting to start this week off with A Race for the Ages (ARFTA) in Manchester, Tennessee, beginning on Thursday, August 31. Race director and UltraRunning contributor Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell delivers this unique age-handicapped race where all runners age 41 and over will be allotted the number of hours equal to their age in which to accumulate as many miles as possible. All participants 40 years and below will compete over the final 40 hours of the race. The winner will be the runner with the most miles accumulated by the finish. Read: An Ode to ARFTA by Cantrell from the November 2019 issue.
On Saturday, September 1, make your way to the Massanutten Mountains in Virginia for The Ring, a clockwise tour of the 71-mile Massanutten Trail surrounding Fort Valley in the 1.8-million-acre George Washington National Forest. The “trail” is the epitome of hard, relentlessly rocky and beyond slow: the winning time often runs close to 20 hours. Portions of the trail have been around for centuries, but the entire, uninterrupted, 71-mile Massanutten Trail was not completed until 2002, the first year of the race. Read: The Ring — Massanutten Trail Circuit Run by Erik Price.
At the Booneville Backroads Ultras in Iowa, southwest of Des Moines, there are 50k, 100k and 100-mile options on the docket for Saturday. The 50k is a tadpole-style course, the 100k is a single loop and the 100-mile is one big loop with another additional smaller loop. While the total climbing for each race distance, approximately 2,000/4,000/6,000 feet, respectively, isn’t massive by any means, it’s the way in which the runners accumulate the gain in hundreds of unrelenting and rolling hills that makes this course challenging. The endless hills in this race, plus the mid-90s forecast for the area on Saturday, will challenge every runner who attempts to finish, no matter the distance.
Our UltraRunning Calendar has quite a few more races to choose from this holiday weekend including the Grand Traverse Mountain Run 40-miler in Crested Butte, Colorado, the Wildcat 100 (and accompanying 50k/50-miler/100k) in Pensacola, Florida, the Walk in the Park 50k in Kamloops, British Columbia, the Temptation 200 Ultras 50/100/150/200k Forest City, Illinois, the Six-O Trail Run 50k in Cleburne, Texas, the Crystal Springs 50k in Woodside, California, and the Badgerland Striders 24-12-6 Hour Runs in Delafield, Wisconsin, all on Saturday, September 2.
What’s Up In Ultra for you this weekend and what are you looking forward to later in September? If you’re in need of a race and this collection doesn’t strike your fancy, be sure to check out the other races on the docket where there’s something for everyone, no matter where you live in North America.