Welcome back to Valentine’s Day edition of This Week In Running. This week we all get a gift from the sport we love, a plethora of winter trail racing options! In today’s TWIR, we are going to take a look at several races on tap for the weekend of February 14 and 15, 2009. In particular, we will take a close look at three 100 mile (or greater events), two of which take place on Valentine’s Day in climates that are anything but “warm and cozy”. [Louisville Love’n the Hills 50K added 2/12; Susitna 100 odds added 2/13]
We begin with the coldest of them all, the “world’s coldest and toughest ultra”, the Yukon Arctic Ultra, taking place from February 15th to the 28th in Whitehorse, Canada. If the name itself doesn’t give you the chills, the extreme conditions in the Yukon in February certainly will, as “situations which under normal circumstances don’t cause any problems can become absolutely life threatening in the dead of winter in the Yukon”. (see ridiculous temperature chart for the race)
The Yukon Arctic Ultra offers event distances of 26.2, 100, 300 and 430 miles (the 430 mile event is held every 2 years). Participants can choose a mode of transportation (foot, xc-ski, skijor or mountain bike) which must be used throughout the entire event. The course follows the Yukon Quest trail. The marathon finishes just off the Takhini River. The 100 mile racers will go from Whitehorse to Braeburn. The 300 mile racers will keep on going all the way to Pelly Farm. There they will leave the river to turn around and go back to Pelly Crossing on the farm road. The 430 mile athletes will not return to Pelly Crossing. Instead they will continue on the Quest trail to Dawson City. 100 mile racers must reach the finish in Braeburn within 3 days (72 hours), which gives you a sense of the difficult of the race. Too put things in perspective, the Hardrock 100 has a 48 hour cutoff and the Badwater 135 has a 60 hour cutoff. 300 mile racers must reach Carmacks within 4 days and 12 hours and they have to be at the finish in Pelly Crossing within 8 days (192 hours). 430 mile athletes have to reach Dawson within 13 days (312 hours). [Above photo by Harald Eisenberger.]
Keeping with the “cold” theme is the Susitna 100 Mile and 50k Winter Races on marked trails in remote and frozen Alaska. Entrants can race on foot, bike or ski through the remote forests and frozen rivers and lakes. The 100-mile course has evolved over time based on a “history of tradition, opportunism, stubbornness, and confusion”, and has become a “snaky lollipop” course. In February, this great northern country is reduced to two colors, white and green, and is typically framed by a blue sky.
In the words of the race website, the Susitna 100 and the Little Su 50K are:
wilderness races and as such are subject to Mother Nature’s whims….Each year presents a unique set of race conditions that is determined as much by the weather two weeks before the race as the preceding four months….These races are as much about tenacity and patience as they are about strength and speed….You are racing across a series of lakes and swamps that nature did not design for skiing or snowshoeing, much less bicycling and running.
For more on the Susitna 100, you should check out Geoff Roes’s preview and odds.
If you are looking for a flat, yet challenging course, the LOST 118 Mile Endurance Run around Lake Okeechobee in Florida may be right up your alley… alligator alley, that is. The scenic course around Lake Okeechobee consists of double-track dirt road, asphalt, and, at the detours, other surfaces. The circular course is mostly flat, with 14 public water access points as well as numerous roads and trails allowing crew members to reach the runners. There is little, if any, coverage from the sun. The race has a 34 hour cut-off (although the course will not be closed until the last runner either finishes or drops), and entry is limited to 50 runners.
Moab’s Red Hot 50k+ (just over 34 miles) and 33k take place on February 14 in Moab, Utah, and uses several breath-taking trail systems including the Gemini Bridges Trail, Little Canyon Rim Road/Metalmasher Trail, Gold Bar Rim, Golden Spike, and Poison Spider Trail. This year’s men’s field lives up to the race’s name – red hot. (See Karl Meltzer’s race odds) Check out the race website for more information.
[Added 2/12] Who could forget that Louisville Love’n the Hills 50K is being run in Kentucky on Saturday? [Answer, we could… oops!] While we haven’t gotten much of a sense of the course from the website, the course doesn’t appear to traverse any mountains, but there look to be enough quick ups and downs to tire even the hardiest of legs. Fortunately, the race provides a generous 10 hour (!?) cutoff time. There’s also a 15 mile option if you are looking for something a bit shorter. Note that this race even has its own blog!
McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona plays host to the Pemberton Trail 50k on February 14 (yes, the very same park that hosts the Javelina Jundred 100 Mile in October). Pemberton is a fast 50k run entirely on trails with gently rolling hills.
There are also a few marathons to choose from this weekend, including the following :
Saturday, February 14
BI-LO Myrtle Beach Marathon (Myrtle Beach, SC)
OverNite Software and ConocoPhillips Surfside Beach Marathon (Surfside Beach, TX) [Trail Goat Note: What marketing genius let two corporations with compound names co-sponsor this mouthful of a race?!]
Sunday, February 15
Fleet Feet Sports, Columbus “Last Chance for Boston” Marathon (Columbus, OH)
AT&T Austin Marathon (Austin, TX)
Lost Dutchman Marathon (Apache Junction, AZ)
Pensacola Marathon (Pensacola, FL)
Washington’s Birthday Marathon (Greenbelt, MD)
As always, you can click on any of the marathons listed above and peruse its website for more information.
That will wrap things up for this week. Be sure to stop by iRunFar.com next week for another edition of This Week In Running !