2013 Rocky Raccoon Race Preview

Rocky Raccoon 100 and 50 mile runsFor February’s look at world ultras I’ve picked one close to my heart, Rocky Raccoon 100 in Texas which occurs this weekend on February 2-3. It’s the race with several of the fastest 100-mile times ever in North America including the only sub 13-hour trail run to date.

Race Summary

Generally considered to be a great first 100-miler, Rocky Raccoon has a low altitude, looped course (easy logistics for drop bags, crews, and etceteras) and relatively low elevation change with around 5,500 feet of ascent and the same descent. There’s a 30-hour cut-off too, meaning that a strong walking pace is feasible given the lack of mountains in the way and no hills more than about 100 feet. Breaking 24 hours gets a different buckle to sub-30 with the addition of some color.

The race is set in Huntsville State Park in Texas and the 20-mile loops cover plenty of flat doubletrack trails as well as short sections of singletrack with rocks and roots, starting predawn. This is not a technical trail by any stretch of the imagination but those roots can slow things down when the legs get tired and it gets dark. In terms of temperatures, again the conditions are excellent for running with lows that can be below freezing and highs during the day that are likely to be around the 60’s. Humidity can be a slight issue but really the conditions are almost ideal for trail running usually. Even if it rains, the course usually drains well and doesn’t get too muddy unless there’s a crazy storm.

Runners come to this event to attempt their first 100-miler or to go faster than they’ve managed in the mountains. Then they come back again for the great and friendly organization from Joe Prusaitis and the Tejas Trails team (who are also responsible for the USATF 100k Trail Championship at the Bandera 100k and many other great Texan races).

If you’re trying to choose a fast trail 100, this one fits in with other options like Umstead 100, Long Haul 100, Keys 100 or Rocky Road 100. Or there’s the fast 50-mile version with three loops and mainly the same course as the full 100. You know it’s fast when the course record is 5:43!

The Sharp End of the Field

The past few years have seen fast times at Rocky Raccoon, despite some of the worst weather the event has seen in the 2012 edition. So with 2012 Ultrarunning Magazine Ultra Runner of the Year, Mike Morton, entered everyone is excited that about what sort of time he could post (not least the author). However, Mike tells me his main focuses this year are the 24-hour World Championships in May, Western States 100 in June and the Spartathlon in September. So it doesn’t look like he’ll go for the 12:44 course record this time, but it’s certainly on his radar. Since he ran three 100’s in the low 13’s last year, he’s certainly the man most likely to run faster than anyone else in North American history.

Other fast finishers include Paul Navesey from the UK and Joshua Finger, but it doesn’t look like the field is as deep as the past two years and the women’s course record looks safe.

2011 Rocky Raccoon 100 - Anton Krupicka - Hal Koerner - Mike Wolfe- Scott Jurek

The 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100 with (l-to-r) Anton Krupicka, Hal Koerner, and Mike Wolfe. Scott Jurek’s in the background. Photo:  Dave Carder

Course Records

Rocky Raccoon 100 holds the fastest male and female trail times in North America.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Who’s racing Rocky this weekend? If so, care to put your goals out there?
  • Even if Mike Morton is not treating this weekend as a goal race, do you think author Ian Sharman’s course record (and, thus, the American soil 100-mile trail record) could still be in jeopardy?
  • Do you have a good Rocky Raccoon race story from a past year?

There are 7 comments

  1. Alex from New Haven

    I doubt Morton will be able to resist cranking hard on the first 2 laps, either because he's an Alpha, or just for practice. Can't wait to see him at WS.

    1. DJ

      It is entirely possible with that weak field Mike could have a lap lead over some one running a respectable sub 16 hour hundred if my math is correct ?

  2. bp

    Weather will be high-60s, low-70s tomorrow with about 50% humidity. Not terrible but on the warmer side of ideal.

    Joshua Finger seem primed and ready to go. Mike Morton is clearly the favorite.

    I am not running this year but I'll be working the start / finish aid station all weekend and look forward to seeing everyone especially those going for their first 100 and those looking to get a sweet piece of granite as they polish off the Tejas 300 (Cactus Rose 100, Bandera 100k, Rocky 100).

  3. Liza Howard

    I haven't looked closely at the women running Rocky this year, so I'm sorry I don't have anything to add to the preview right now, but I'll post updates of men and women throughout the day tomorrow. :)

  4. DJ

    Morton will break 13 but based on the weather and lack of anyone to push him I don't see him taking Ian's time down this year. 2014 when Rocky hosts the USATF 100 Mile National Championships I think Ian's record will go down and Ian himself may be there to break it along with a few other speedy guys :)…. Sending good vibes to everyone racing the Racoon tomorrow from Costa Rica! -DJ

  5. Mike Morton

    It was a tough day! I struggled from about mile 20. I felt a bit run down still from being sick. Looking at all the fast times at run at RR I can say that Ian's time is amazing. It would take a strong tail wind (30MPH)for me to ever come close to his mark!

    What a well run race! Joe and crew are amazing!

    1. Tom W

      Was great to share the trails with you. Good job on the win. Hope to see you back next year for 100 mile championships. Good luck the rest of the year.

      Semper Fi

  6. Michael N

    Steve Speiers originally form Wales and now in Virginia Beach ran his first 100 and came third overall just over 16hr. Is this amazing or what?

    Ok he went over 100 miles in his first 24hr race and he did sub7hr 50 miles last year.

    He is 45yo,so there's hope for all!

    Congrats Steve!!

    1. steve

      Thanks for the mention, Michael. For anyone looking to do their first 100, Rocky Raccoon is the way to go. Amazing event – great course, expertly organized with the most supportive volunteers/support you could wish for. I'll be back!

  7. Todd

    Man, I love this site. Saturday, I wanted to see how Mike Morton was doing, couldn't find live updates on the race's Web site or anywhere else, so I checked back here and sure enough Ian gives us a link to live results. After the race, I checked back here for commentary, and none other than Mike Morton signs in to give us a quick recap of his race.

  8. Jonathan F

    What a weekend! I had an absolute blast! Finished my first 50 miler, watched Mike Morton speed past me, and watched the 50 mile winner, professional MLS coach, Wade Barrett, blaze the 50 miler in 7 hours. Great weather and as always, Joe and Joyce are class. Can't wait till next year as Rocky was chosen to be the 100 mile trail national championships. Hope all the big guns, male and female, come down to Tejas.

  9. steve

    Yeah, first 100 for me. Learned a lot, but had so much fun along the way. Can't believe I came away with 3rd overall…

    Thanks to Joe, Joyce and the team for putting on a first class event. Tremendous day!

  10. Heather

    Liza thanks for mentioning Nicole – the women's side deserves some attention. I don't know her, but her fantastic win time and first 100 made me sit up and take notice. Very impressive indeed!

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