We’re back ! And we’re sorry that we’ve been away for a while. But hey, things happen, like, for instance, a move across the country. Yes, iRunFar headquarters has moved clear across the country, and today, TWIR will do the same as we explore a host of races and events taking place all over the good old United States of America on the weekend of Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7, 2009.
It is fitting that June 6 is the anniversary of the first day of the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day), for this June 6 will be D-Day for many runners who have been preparing to tackle a couple of 100-milers. We begin with the Kettle Moraine 100 Endurance Runs, taking place in La Grange, Wisconsin. Last year’s event was dampened by torrential downpours, thunder and lightning. This year’s edition hopes to be a bit drier. The big change this year is the introduction of chip timing, which will allow for nearly live results. The course is run entirely on trails (except for a few hundred feet of road crossings) and traverses the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT) for about 65 miles. Runners head off the IAT near the Nordic Trails at the start/finish area and near the Scuppernong turn around between miles 27 and 35. The trail is about 80% wooded terrain, with the remainder meandering through gentle prairie or march areas. Part of the course consists of roller coaster hills, with small rocks and scattered roots. The hills are not long and/or steep, but these “silent killers” can take a toll on runners.
The 100 mile race consists of two out and back legs. The first leg begins at the Nordic loop and turns around at the Scuppernong campground for a round trip distance of 62.9 miles. After completion of the Nordic loop, runners take a different leg to Rice Lake with a round trip distance of 37.3 miles. 21 staffed aid stations are ready to serve runners, with the longest stretch between aid stations being 8.3 miles. In addition to the staffed aid stations, 8 unstaffed aid stations provide water and limited runner aid. Pacers are allowed only after the 62.9 mile mark, or after 6:30 p.m. The race has a 30-hour time limit. Kettle Moraine has the dreaded “drop option”. Runners registered for the 100 mile solo race may drop at the 100k finish, and receive a 100k finisher award.
Anything to worry about at Kettle Moraine (aside from getting through 100 miles) ? Mosquitoes and deer flies are of primary concern. There have been wolf sightings on the course, and a cougar was sited in 2008. Snakes, yes, snakes are a possibility (so you won’t see Indiana Jones out there). Wood ticks and deer ticks may also be an issue.
Eric Clifton’s course record 15:57:09 has held up since 1999. The year before, Donna Perkins set the female course record with a time of 18:12:30. Joel Eckberg survived the rain at last year’s event to take top honors with a time of 18:10:07, followed by Mark Tanaka (20:39:37) and Rick Gaston (21:37:25). Darla Brader took top honors among female with a time of 22:04:50.
Also taking place on June 6 in the Cuyamaca Mountains in San Diego, California is the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run (“SD100”). This two loop out-and-back course is run primarily on scenic Pacific Crest Trail and has over 12,000 feet of climbing. The Cuyamaca Mountain area will offer runners a challenging course and crew personnel great access to assist their runners. Runners will enjoy traveling on the Pacific Crest Trail for several miles with great views of the desert. The course is entirely fire roads and single track trail with four long but gradual climbs per 50 mile loop. SD100 has about a 50% completion rate.
The race starts at 4 a.m. from the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, located in Woodstock, Virginia, the County Seat.
THE FIRST SIX MILES
The first six miles of the course travel through historic Woodstock. Here, the fighting minister, Peter Muhlenberg preached his sermon then removed his robe to reveal the Revolutionary uniform and led his fellow townmen out to win liberty, saying “there is a time to pray and a time to fight.”
SIX TO THIRTY-FIVE MILES
Reaching the Shenandoah River at Burnshire Dam, the course crosses by bridge, approaches its first major ascent to Woodstock Gap on a steep gravel switchback and enters the George Washington National Forest. Descending into Fort Valley’s natural fortress, created by the encircling Massanutten Mountains, is more gradual until approx. 10 mi. upon reaching the fairly rugged 2.5 mi. Lavender Trail up and along the West ridgeline, then down to a Forest Service road winding into the Foley Loop on country roads and leading to another stretch of good country which gives way to the climb up to the 675 Overlook and continuing down to Four Points #1 at approximately 32.5. Here the course enters Duncan Hollow on trail that exacts the “just do it” attitude, but does lead to good footing for five miles on Crisman Hollow.
MORELAND GAP AND MORE
The course turns to climb Moreland Gap with good footing, reaching Edinburg Gap at 55 miles and enters Powell Mountain Trail. The next eight miles have become a heavily utilized ATV route. Ascending Opechee Peak the trail becomes rugged and steep. The last half, still rugged is not so steep. Reaching Little Fort Campground the course turns up Woodstock Mountain on forest road for five miles to Mudhole Gap. The next mile is trail as lovely as any you will ever visit, running with Little Passage Creek and through it five times.
The course turns onto a fine logging road leading to a turn onto a short, rocky, trail, then crossing the Valley Road, Passage Creek by bridge and into Elizabeth Furnace Picnic Area, the Second and final Medical Check at 74.95 miles. This is the only point with a cut-off time. Runners much check-out of Elizabeth Furnace by midnight. The next three miles are best left undescribed but are summed up in the phrase “Sherman Gap”. Rumor has it that the gap was not named for any great explo
rer but rather for the first (and possibly the last) endurance race runner to try to run up it. It is said that you can see his grave ten feet from the top, especially if you are one of the masses trying to do this part of the course in the dark.
Runners are then greeted with a steep trail run down to a gravel road, leading to the wagon road, built by Gen. Daniel Morgan during the Revolution for possible retreat of Washington’s forces, up Veach Gap and down the boulder falls on the west side. Because most runners will traverse in darkness the difficult stretch from Elizabeth Furnace to the Aid-Station located at the foot of the Veach Gap descent, this is the one part of the race where the runner, if he so chooses, may be accompanied by a safety runner. After descending the western side of Veach Gap at 86.58 miles the competitors are again on their own.
THE FINISH LINE
Crossing the Valley road the course now has good footing on country lanes to complete the circle around the Massanuttens, then turns back up and over Woodstock Mountain, across the Shenandoah and through town to the finish back at the County Fairgrounds.
The Peak 50+ Mile Ultra-Marathon (with a new for 2009 50K+ Ultra-Marathon and 10 mile hell run) in Pittsfield, Vermont. The course covers country roads, logging roads, NFS roads, snowmobile trails and rugged single track trails. The course is “very easy to follow but VERY difficult to run.” The Pittsfield Peaks distances and elevations are (covering 53 miles and 13,122′ vertical gain and descent) :
1. Contest Trail (Wilcox Mtn) – 12.96 miles and 2,787′ vertical
2. Hayes Brook Loop – 6 miles and 957′ vertical
3. Bloodroot Mtn. – 19.89 miles and 4,670′ vertical
4. Hedgehog – 3.79 miles and 700′ vertical
5. Joe’s Hill – 10.3 miles and 3,383′ vertical.
PCTR’s Mount Diablo Trail Run (8k, 25k and 50k) kicks off at 8:30 AM on Saturday. Mount Diablo provides spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding valleys. The course is hilly and scenic on single track trails and dirt roads. The 25k climbs to the summit (3,849 feet) and returns to the Mitchell Canyon Trailhead. The 50k covers two loops to the summit (8,900 feet of elevation gain). Typical PCTR-type aid stations can be expected. iRunFar will be reporting on this race La Sportiva Mountain Cup race early next week. Check back in then for a chance to win another pair of La Sportiva shoes.
Well, iRunFar’s move out West and several other summer-time activities/issues will keep this week’s edition of TWIR very, very short. But, it gives us here at iRunFar and TWIR a chance to sit back and come up with new ways and ideas to improve TWIR, and in the coming weeks we hope to roll out some of those changes.
Until next week…….