Welcome back to yet another edition of This Week In Running, brought to you in part by iRunFar.com, your source for mud, mountains, miles and so much more. Today’s installment of TWIR takes a look at a few of the races on tap for the weekend of September 20 and 21, 2008. First, we’ll look back at the action from last weekend’s Angeles Crest 100.
Before we get into the upcoming action, let’s take a quick look at the results from the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. Hal Koerner won the 21st annual running of AC100 (he also won in 2006). Koerner ran most of the first 40 miles of the race with three-time winner Jorge Pacheco before distancing himself with a small lead. By mile 53 Koerner had built a 15 minute lead, which he gradually extended. Pacheco would ultimately drop from the race at the 75 mile mark. Troy Howard finished second, and Justin Angle came in third. Koerner’s time of 18:29:26 is the second fastest at AC100, behind only Jim O’Brien’s 1989 course record 17:35:48. Prudence L’Heureux took top honors in the women’s race, leading from mile 26 on. Ashley Nordell finished in second place. L’Heureux’s time was only 13 minutes behind Suzanna Bon’s 2007 course record, and was the third fastest women’s performance in race history.
Let’s move on with the show and take a look at the week that is to come…..
One could say TWIR is a little biased with this week’s feature race selection. Yes, iRunFar.com‘s very own Bryon Powell will be competing in it, the Iroquois Trails 100 Mile Race. Taking place on September 20 and 21 in Virgil, New York, this freshman 100-miler was conceptually conceived during a hike in Ithaca’s Six Mile Gorge by former Ithaca College teammates Ian Golden and Greg Loomis in 2007. [Poster on left created by Adam Batliner.]
The story goes something like this:
At the tail end of his run at Ithaca College, Greg began venturing into the ultra running world. At that time, known as “Cabin Boy” to his friends, “Loomdog” to himself, Loomis became intent on asserting to himself that indeed he was tougher than most men, even if they were able to run faster and secure more relationships with those of the female persuasion. The proving grounds came in the form of fruit-based alcoholic beverages, and weeks on end living in a lean-to in Shindagin Hollow State Forest. During his time in the Hollow, Loomis was known to run ludicrously high miles, eat nothing but Pop-Tarts, and flex his biceps in admiration quite regularly. Inspired by his physical and mental sojourns, but not by his choice in fruity beverages and Pop-Tart-brand pastries, Ian too ventured sporadically into ultra-running, fueling his diet in turn with Nature’s Path Organic Toaster Pastries.
With a passion for the sport and nature of the events, and with a history of thousands of miles run on the trails surrounding Ithaca, N.Y., it became apparent that a 100-miler should be brought to upstate N.Y. and, if possible, use those trails that they had come to love. Ian set out to chart a course over those trails, offering runners some of the most beautiful natural offerings this side of Argonia, Kansas. Additionally, an event that transcended running to appreciate the history and celebrate the present of the trails and communities became the goal. Searching for the history of trails around Ithaca turned up a book titled Old Indian Trails in Tompkins County by Glenn Norris. In it were the brief descriptions and rough maps of a network of trails crossing Tompkins County established and used by the Iroquois Nation, specifically the Cayuga and Onondaga. Once comprising one of the most formidable early democracies in the world, the Iroquois Nation was connected through an extensive network of trails linking each of the six nations. It is recorded that the Iroquois were able to routinely cover the 240 mile Iroquois Trail (between present day Buffalo and Albany) in three days to maintain communication.
The Iroquois Trail was the spine of passage between Albany and Fort Niagara near present-day Buffalo. It was the Warrior Trail, passing through present Ithaca and near present Brooktondale that provided access between the eastern shores of Lake Cayuga and the Susquehanna River to the south. The Warrior trail ushered in the first of the white settlers to present Ithaca in 1743 and widened to road’s width prior to being abandoned for a more western and advantageous route.The Owego-Dryden-Onondaga Trail branched off of the Warrior trail into the Prospect or Shandaken Valley, making its way out of the marshy lowlands to cross the thickly wooded steep hillsides, passing along current Level Green Road to the present town of Caroline. Joining the West Owego Trail, it continued past the north end of present Flat Iron Road to ascend through one of its roughest sections, and then passed through the current Hammond Hill State Forest into the valley of Irish Settlement, present-day Dryden, and on toward the Iroquois Confederacy capital of Onondaga.
This was the history of trail use in the area and it was hoped that the proposed event could honor this history. It seemed all-too-perfect that the race weekend was to coincide with the Tutelo Native American Festival that is to convene at Tutelo Memorial Park adjacent to the planned start/finish at Buttermilk Falls State Park. Surely the event could connect to not only the history, but join in celebrating present Native Americans and culture in the Ithaca area. Unfortunately the proposed course, using the Finger Lakes Trail almost exclusively, and entailing, in part, night-time running over private land, was not embraced by all. An alternative was needed that would run either solely on public lands, or over a few approved private-land stretches.
The resultant vision was found in Virgil, N.Y., a town 20 miles northeast of Ithaca, and the home of several wonderful races staged by the Finger Lakes Running Club including the Monster Marathon, Virgil Mountain Madness, and Forest Frolic Trails Runs. With Finger Lakes Trail sections spanning the Tuller Hill and Kennedy State Forests, paired with the mountainous terrain of Greek Peak Mountain Resort, a 100 mile would again be possible. With the assistance of Joe Dabes, local land owner, trail creator and steward, and running legend, a course was configured. All that would be needed would be runners and pop-tarts.
The Iroquois Trails Ultras offer both a 100 mile (36 hour cut-off) and 50 mile (13 hour cut-off) race. 20 aid stations, with sections ranging from 3.5 to 6.3 miles, will provide water, electrolyte mix and soda. All aid stations will provide gels and some will provide Sharkies or Shot Bloks. Pretzels, bananas, potatoes, soups, and sandwiches will also be served, but, the race directors are certain to celebrate Greg Loomis and to insure that Pop-Tarts will be available at all aid stations. The course consists of three-prongs, covering Greek Peak’s Alpine Center, as well as the Finger Lakes Trail through Tuller Hill and Kennedy State Forests. The course will cross through several post-glacial gorges once home to the Cayuga Indian Nation of upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region.
Approximately 85% of the race will be run over hilly single track with 10% dirt and gravel road and 5% asphalt. Elevation gain is roughly 18,000 feet with nearly corresponding loss. This is a challenging eastern trail run and the hills are constant and the terrain is technical.
As of the writing of this post, 26 runners had registered for the 100-miler, and 16 had registered for the 50-miler. TWIR is excited to be heading up to Virgil, New York this weekend to witness (and crew/pace) this freshman 100-miler first hand!
In addition to the Iroquois Trails Ultras, there are plenty of other ultra events happening this week, including the following:
Delaware 100 Mile Endurance Run (Sat., Sept. 20 in Newark, Delaware) – You have to love a true fat ass 100-miler with a course description that begins with “from my driveway, take a short jog….” and ends with “after doing four laps on the trail, you return to my house the way you got to the trail….”
Odyssey Trail Ultra 40 Miler (Sat., Sept. 20 in Douthat State Park, VA) – The race course will be a loop format which will offer challenging uphills, fast downhills and beautiful views at multiple points on the trail. Racers will run along creeks with waterfalls and through Rhododendron covered tunnels engulfing the trails. A loop will have a total elevation gain of 3,094 feet over 13 miles, with the highest point being 3,120 feet. There will be two aid stations with water, Heed, cola and an assortment of salty snacks and treats on a loop.
Paatuwaqatsi 50k (Sat., Sept. 20 in Polacca, AZ) – The Paatuwaqatsi Run’s main event is an Ultra Run which is a minimum of 30 miles. The course follows the old foot trails of the First Mesa Villages, including Walpi and visits seven natural springs. The Ultra Run is designed for conditioned runners who are used to covering distances of 20 miles or more. The course covers various types of high desert terrain from open sand to hard rock surfaces atop high mesas to riparian habitat around the base of the mesas. In summary, the length of the Paatuwaqatsi Run is approximately 30 miles. The climbing/descent elevation of the Paatuwaqatsi Run is 4,825 feet at about 8 miles each, the rest relatively flat. The Paatuwaqatsi Relay Run follows the same course. 3-person or 6-person co-ed teams each run a leg of the course. The 3-person team members each run 10 miles the 6-person team members each run 5 miles. A four-mile run/walk near the race site is also available.
North County Trail Run (Sat., Sept. 20 in Manistee, MI) – Marathon and 50 mile race run entirely on a single-track trail (25 mile loop course) in the Manistee National Forest. The course is challenging with a fair amount of hills. There are 7 aid stations per loop with the greatest distance between aid stations being 3.9 miles.
Moab Alpine to Slickrock 50 Mile (Sat., Sept. 20 in Moab, Utah) -50 mile and relay with 11,000+ feet of elevation gain. Extremely challenging course!
Hocking Hills Indian Run Race (Sat., Sept. 20 in Ohio) – 5, 10, 20, 40 and 60k races. The trail winds through vast wooded areas of the Hocking Hills State Park and Hocking State Forest, crossing streams, deep gorges, shimmering waterfalls and lush forests, leading uphill and down. The trail is the ultimate challenge to the runner’s power of concentration.
That will do it for this week’s edition of This Week In Running. Be sure to tune in again next week!