As the calendar rolls over and we look ahead to the new year, this is the time when many trail runners and ultrarunners are planning for their next year in running. Race calendars are scoured, work/life challenges are addressed, and travel arrangements come into focus. In recent years, as the drive to find qualifiers for many of the world’s most popular races has intensified, many events have found themselves filling up within minutes, sometimes six to eight months in advance.
In contrast, you can get into the five races featured in this article! All of them are well-organized, historic, and beautiful, and one can register without going through a lottery or doing some exotic internet calisthenics. And in so doing, you can enjoy an ultra that is over 20, 30, or even 40 years old, allowing you to follow in the footsteps of the ultramarathon pioneers.
Promise Land 50k, Virginia
The Promise Land 50k will host its 21st edition in 2022. This Virginia classic, held in the height of spring, contains flowy singletrack, steep and rocky climbs, and winding grassy paths through thick forests.
Beginning and ending at the Promise Land Youth Camp, the event is often a homecoming of sorts, as most runners arrive the evening before to camp out. And many stay long into the afternoon and evening following the race to swap stories and savor the spring sunshine.
Old Pueblo 50 Mile, Arizona
On the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, the Old Pueblo 50 Mile has been going on in one form or another since 1985. Traversing the flanks of the Santa Rita Mountains, Old Pueblo is a pleasant blend of smooth singletrack trails and deserted dirt roads all in the midst of stunningly beautiful desert scenery.
Held in early March, Old Pueblo is a wonderful spring break destination for those runners looking to escape the grip of winter and enjoy some good, down-home desert hospitality.
Silver State 50k/50 Mile, Nevada
The showcase event for the venerable Silver State Striders Running Club, the Silver State 50k/50 Mile, conducted every May in the foothills west of Reno, Nevada, has long been an important tune-up race for runners with their eyes on the Western States 100 or Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile later in the summer.
Embracing the old-school vibe that race co-founder Roland Martin so fervently believed in, Silver State is a true community event held in a classic club run style. The Striders, as they are most commonly known, are strongly committed to producing a local, down-home event that is welcoming to all and shows off the excellent trails and roads of this often misunderstood portion of the Nevada high desert. The year 2022 will see the event’s 37th edition.
Palo Duro Trail Runs, Texas
Held in Palo Duro Canyon, America’s second-largest canyon after the Grand Canyon, this October trail running festival will hold its 37th edition in 2022. Founded originally as a road race by legendary Texas trail running character Red Spicer, the Palo Duro Trail Runs now have 25k, 50k, and 50-mile trail distances, providing something for everyone.
The October race date showcases the incredible burst of color that explodes each fall in this part of Texas. And the thoughtful blend of technical singletrack and smooth canyon roads tests the versatility of even the most seasoned ultrarunner.
Lake Waramaug Ultras, Connecticut
The brainchild of legendary New England runner Jack Bristol, the Lake Waramaug Ultras are celebrating their 46th running in 2022. Bristol, known for his mind-blowing training miles and unorthodox training methods, founded Lake Waramaug to provide U.S. East Coast runners with an April endurance test to jump-start their seasons.
The oldest 100k race in the country, Lake Waramaug stays true to its roots as an old-school New England road race complete with spartan aid stations and no-frills support. However, what it lacks in pizzazz, it makes up for in experience and vibe as many runners return year after year to test themselves at “The Lake” and regale those around the post-race campfire with colorful stories about the good old days.
Here’s hoping all of you enjoy a happy and healthy 2022 and, if you can, find a homegrown, low-key race like those in this article to keep your motivation high.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
Our final beer of the week for 2022 is a special New Year’s Eve beer from Prairie Artisan Ales. Bomb! is a robust Imperial Stout brewed with coffee, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chiles. Weighing in at 13% ABV, Bomb! is worthy of its name and one of the smoothest drinking stouts I have ever had the opportunity to drink.
Call for Comments
- What other races would you recommend for 2022, that are easy to get into and that have an excellent legacy or story?
- What does your new-year planning look like when it comes to your running, racing, and adventuring?