Welcome to the Summer Solstice (which occurs this year at 5:45 AM on June 21) edition of This Week In Running. Before we take a look at a handful of races/events taking place on the weekend of Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21.
We begin this week with the Bighorn Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run (Saturday, June 20 at 11:00 AM in Bighorn National Forest, North Central, Wyoming). BH100 is “an arduous trail run with a 34 hour time limit.” Extreme temperature variations and weather conditions (possible temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the day in the canyons, and well below freezing at night in the mountains) are typical this time of year. The course is “wild and scenic,” traversing territory inhabited by elk, deer, moose, bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes, with the potential for wildlife encounters with runners. Aside from the wildlife warnings, the course is an out-and-back consisting of 76 miles of single-track trail, 16 miles of rugged double track jeep trail, and 8 miles of gravel road, with about 17,500 feet of climb and about 18,000 feet of descent. The men’s course record by Karl Meltzer in 2007 (20:12) [Per iRF reader Nick, Jeff Browning’s 18:56 from last year was run on a snow altered course.] – and the women’s course record in 2007 – Darcy Africa (23:22:21).
Another 100-miler taking place this weekend is the Mohican Trail 100 Mile Run (Saturday, June 20 in Loudonville, Ohio). In its 20th year, MT100 offers beautiful scenery, a challenging course and outstanding volunteers. The course surface consists of mostly forest trail (about 70 percent) with about 11,230 feet of climb and descent. The men’s course record has held up since Courtney Campbell’s 15:11:35 performance in 1999. The women’s course record was set in 2000 by Janice Anderson (18:53:17). Only twice (1992 and 1999) in this race’s history have more than 66 percent of starters finished the race. In 2008, 125 runners started, 80 finished (64 percent), and 24 of those 80 finished sub-24 hours. In 2007, 155 runners started, 94 finished (61 percent), and 25 of those 80 finished sub-24 hours.
The Mason-Dixon Trail Longest Day 100k Challenge (Saturday, June 20 from Susquehanna park, Maryland to Long Level, near Wrightsville, Pennsylvania). Start at sunrise (5:37 AM) and finish by sunset (8:38 PM) – 15 hours of sunlight on the longest day of the year. “For even the seasoned fast trail runner, completion in daylight may be beyond normal capabilities (doable perhaps only by speedy mountain goats brandishing a machete)”, so, there is an option to include civil twilight (5:04 AM start and 9:11 PM finish for 16:06 total time). This race is free, and is not considered an organized, sponsored or affiliated endeavor. There are no applications, no releases, and runners are told to not “expect much more from it other than self-fulfillment.”
Not to be outdone by Maryland, Colorado has its own Summer Solstice run, a 50-miler, the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile Run (Saturday, June 20 in Lake City, Colorado). This race is one counter-clockwise loop with altitudes ranging from 8,600 feet to 13,334 feet, with 12,000+ feet of elevation gain on mostly trails and some jeep roads. According to the web-site, the middle-of-the-pack runner should expect to finish in 12-14 hours.
How about 40 miles of wild, wet and “Wrocky WV” ? That’s what you will find at the Highlands Sky Trail Run (Saturday, June 20 in Canaan Valley State Park and Monongahela National Forest, Davis, West Virginia). This is a point-to-point course that traverses Dolly Sods and Canaan Valley through some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in West Virginia. Dolly Sods is an area of high elevation, windswept plains ranging from 2,500 to 4,700 feet in elevation. Trail terrain varies from woodland paths, rock and boulder, to upland bogs, through northern hardwoods at lower elevations, to Red Spruce and heath barrens above 4,000 feet. Canaan is the highest large valley east of the Mississippi. The Valley creates the headwaters of the Blackwater River and has a unique environment composed of wetlands and uplands with vegetation characteristic of more norther latitudes.
What is a weekend without a PCTR event ? The Angel Island Trail Run (Saturday, June 20 in Ayala Cove, Angel Island State Park, California) offers an 8k, 16k, 25k and 50k option. Angel Island is a hilly, grass and forest-covered island that provides spectacular views of Marin County, San Francisco and the Golden Gate. Trails and roads circle the entire island and climb Mount Livermore. The 50k has 4,070 feet of elevation gain.
The 20th Century 50k and 100k Trail run kick off in Easton, Washington on Saturday, June 20. The run is rails-to-trails trails down the I-90 corridor from Easton to Carnation (Hyak to Carnation for 2009). There are some short road and sidewalk sections through the towns.
Last, but not least, the Lost Lake 50k holds its inaugural “Fat Ass Style” trail race on Saturday, June 20 at the base of Chuckanut Mountain. The course is scenic and challenging, with 8,200 feet of elevation gain. There are several challenging, leg-burning, steep ascents, slow, technical, rolling ridges, and a limited supply of fast “free speed” on the descents. [Trail Goat Note: Look for the speedy goat, Ian Fraser to impress in his ultra debut here.]