Happy New Year! We certainly hope that you all had a wonderful, fun-filled holiday season, and are in the process of returning to running form for 2010. If you are like the folks here at TWIR, over the course of the last few weeks you’ve consumed plenty of turkey, ham, potatoes, lasagna, garlic bread, pignoli cookies, gelato, cakes, candy canes… you get the drift. So, what better way to start off 2010 than to get out of the house and run an ultra, perhaps one of those that we’ve decided to take a look at for the weekend of Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10.
We begin in the city that is the former home to the headquarters and training facility of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, Kirkland, Washington (they moved to Renton in 2008), with the Bridle Trails Winter Trail Running Festival (Saturday, January 9). Taking place at Bridle Trails State Park with a 3:00 PM start time, the Festival includes a 50k (solo or relay), 10-mile and 5-mile event. The finishing rate for the 50k is somewhat interesting – aside from 2003 (86%) and 2008 (80%), no more than 77% of starters have finished the race, with only 37% (18 of 49) finishing in 2006 and 65% (50 of 77) finishing in 2009. The 50k solo course records are held by Greg Crowther (3:19:40 in 2007) and Jen Segger (4:18:51 in 2009).
Looking for some cold weather winter running? How about the Windburn Six in the Stix (Saturday, January 9) in the western Chicago suburb of Bartlett, Illinois? An “unofficial event”, this 6-hour self-supported fun run will take place regardless of the whether conditions (be it a blizzard or sub-zero temperatures). Just to give you an idea, the average temperature at last year’s running was 18 degrees (with a high of 28 and a low of 7). Ouch! The event is run on a 2.28 mile loop in James “Pate” Philip Park on multi-purpose trails. Limited to 50 runners, as of press time there were 48 runners signed-up to participate.
Want some more cold weather options, the Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50 kicks off at 8:00 AM on Saturday, January 9th in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The course is flat and scenic, beginning and ending at Salem Lake, and is comprised of 6+ miles on asphalt, and 25 miles on hard, packed dirt. It is a double out-and-back run, with aid stations located roughly every 3.5 miles. The men’s course record was set in the 2009 running by Robert Adams (3:09:23). On the women’s side, you ask, the 5 fastest times ever recorded here are all held by none other than Anne Riddle Lundblad – 3:42:08 in 2003; 3:45:15 in 2006, 3:45:26 in 2007, 3:46;11 in 2001, and 3:51:14 in 2008.
We finish up with something a little more on the temperate side, the Bandera 100k Endurance Trail Run in Bandera, Texas (Saturday, January 9; with 50k and 25k options). Part of the 2009-10 Montrail Ultra Cup series, the two 2 male and female overall finishers in the 100k will earn an automatic entry into the Western States 100. The event is billed as “a trail run of rugged and brutal beauty where everything cuts, stings, or bites” and is run on multi-use trails that wind up grassy valleys, cross spring-fed streams, and climb step limestone hills. The course is typical Texas Hill Country fare, with lots of short steep ups and downs with no switchbacks, seasoned with scrub and cactus. From the race director,
“I was looking for a place to kick my butt into shape for Hardrock. After running here in 1998, I knew this was the best I could find within this distance from my house…..The course is all dirt, and as much as I hate roads, this suits me fine. Matter of fact, there are no paved surfaces in the park. The entire course is within the 5,000 acre park. There are a few old abandoned jeep roads, but none are being used for auto traffic. The old roads that are on bedrock remain wide and clear, but most of the old jeep roads are dirt and rock and have worn down to rough terrain and single track. Most of the park’s trail system is single-track…..The single tracks are as different as each part of the park. Some are hard bedrock, some are rough terrain, some are on a bed of loose rock, and some are dirt. Most of this place is a real joy to run while some of it is downright nasty.”
Rattlesnakes, wild pigs, scorpions, porcupines, armadillos and skunks. Well, the good news is that most of the nasty ones (snakes and scorpions) are in hibernation this time of year. Nevertheless, watch your feet. Elevation is said to be a “non-issue” here, with a maximum elevation of 2,000 feet. This is a popular series of events. As of press time, 653 runners were registered to run (177 in the 100k, 200 in the 50k, and 276 in the 25k).
Time to run, literally. See ya next week!