This Week In Running (Week of 12/12 & 12/13)

This Week In Running for the week of December 12-13, 2009.

By on December 9, 2009 | Leave a reply

This Week In RunningDid you survive the Western States 100 lottery last weekend ? Perhaps the odds are better that you have completed all of your holiday shopping by now. Well, if you are shopping for a race this weekend, here’s a sneak peak at just a few that are taking place on Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13, which includes the last two 100-mile events of the 2009 ultra running season.

Would you believe that lists that there are now 64, yes 64 100-mile races in North America, with 8 new 100s slated to make their debut in 2010? Stay tuned for a future TWIR post that will provide details on the 2010 first-run 100-milers. For now, we are left with our last two 100-milers of 2009, both previewed this week. Below we also include Sophie Speidel’s great video retrospective of the previous five years of the Hellgate 100k !

We begin with The Chimera 100 Mile Mountain Race in San Juan Capistrano, California. In Greek mythology, the Chimera was a monstrous fire-breathing creature composed of the parts of multiple animals. The term “chimera” has also come to mean, more generally, an impossible or foolish fantasy. Is the Chimera 100 an impossible or foolish fantasy? Not for the 120 runners registered for this sold-out event.

The Chimera is a figure eight that starts/finishes in the Trabuco region of the Cleveland National Forest. With over 48,000 feet of elevation change (24,000 ascent and 24,000 descent), it is “considered by many as one of the toughest trail 100 mile races in the country.” The first 9-mile loop is single-track with a few rocky stretches. The second leg follows the Main Divide from Blue Jay to the summit of Santiago Peak. The course then continues over the summit of Santiago Peak to the junction of the Main Divide and the Maple Springs Truck trail. Turning right at the junction, runners follow the Main Divide to the top of the Silverado trail. Next, a left onto the Silverado Trail and a steep and rocky descent into Silverado Canyon. A little bit of asphalt is next (about 3 miles), and followed by dirt trails to the top of Maple Springs. Turn around and retrace your steps to the finish of the first 62 miles. Ok, so that’s 62 miles…..back out of Blue Jay Campground you go for a return trip to the Main Divide road and the final 38 miles of the course. The race is restricted to 150 runners, which includes pacers.

Titusville, Florida will host the Ancient Oaks 100 Mile Race on Saturday and Sunday. A free 100-miler, with no awards, buckles, trophies, etc…, Ancient Oaks is a 100-mile run that is sure to make you dizzy. 29 loops of a beautiful 3.495 mile loop is sure to get your head spinning. The course consists mostly of single-track and narrow double-track trail run through the Enchanted Forest. The course is approximately 80% shaded. Overall, the course is just about flat (not quite) with minimal elevation change. There are a few roots, mostly on the Magnolia Loop (back loop), but the entire course is considered runnable (except for the 10 or so steps up after crossing the canal and a couple of sandy spots). Looking for steep and technical ? You won’t find it at Ancient Oaks, and for that reason this may be a perfect first 100-miler. Beware, however, of the always unpredictable Florida weather – it may be a bit warm or humid for non-Floridians. In 2008 only 11 of the 24 starters finished the race, with David James taking first place (his first 100-mile victory) in 20:42. Runners are expected to be self-sufficient and run without pacers.

Want to go to hell and back ? Well, how about just to Virginia for the 7th annual Hellgate 100k (December 12), which starts at the Northeastern terminus of the Glenwood House Trail at the Hellgate Parking lot, and finishes at Camp Bethel. A thorough course overview with maps written by Aaron Schwartzbard can be found HERE. It’s well worth a skim even if you aren’t running the race… or even if you can’t read!

As mentioned above, another Hellgate visual worth a looksee is Sophie Speidel’s video capturing moments from the past five years at Hellgate. You can read her post on the subject for more !

Also make sure to check out the Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic “Run Through the Jungle” 50k/50 Mile Endurance Run.

Make sure you don’t miss the December 16 (next Wednesday) edition of TWIR. The final TWIR post in 2009 will take a look at the 2010 debut 100-mile races (that we know of) !

Anthony Portera
a contributing author to