Welcome back to the post-Valentine’s Day edition of This Week In Running. Yes, if you are feeling the post-Valentine’s Day blues and need to get out on the trails for some long distance soul searching, look no farther. This week’s TWIR segment will preview a few of the running options out there for the weekend of February 21st and 22nd, as well as a 100-miler in sunny Florida. Before we get going, a quick reminder – TWIR looks to provide readers with a brief sampling of some of the events taking place in a given week. It certainly does not cover each and every option that is out there. However, if you have a particular event that is coming up that you would like TWIR to feature or include in its weekly post, let us know and we will make sure to include it !
And so we kick things off in sunny Florida with the Iron Horse Endurance Runs. The Old Norfolk and Southern Rail Trail in Florahome, Florida hosts the 2nd running of this event, which provides 100-mile, 100k and 50-mile options. The course is run on a 25 mile out-and-back section of the unimproved rail trail. The surface is flat (yes, there are no hills) and consists of grass and gravel. An added bonus – the course is mostly shaded. Aid stations are located approximately 5.5 miles apart, but due to the humidity all runners must carry at least one water bottle. Only six runners finished the 100-miler in its inaugural year (we are uncertain as to how many 100-mile starters there were), with Amy Costa taking first place in a time of 17:46:31.
On February 24th the first team of Americans will compete in the Libyan Challenge Master Trek, a 125-mile foot race along an ancient camel caravan in northern Africa’s Sahara desert. Participants will be self-supported, carrying all of their food and medical supplies with only a GPS to navigate between waypoints where they can refill their water supplies. Runners have 75 hours to complete the grueling event. Along the way they will pass prehistoric rock paintings depicting Libya when it was a lush jungle teeming with wild life. Now one of the driest places on earth, the Tuareg’s desert-dwelling people are one of the only inhabitants of the desert. Known for their hospitality, it is not uncommon for runners to be invited for a cup of tea beside a Tuareg campfire on an all night desert hike. Clambering over volcanic rock and towering rock formations, the American Team will not only be tested to their physical and mental limits, but they will also have the opportunity to be ambassadors to their country during a time when relations are being built between the US and Libya.
With another North African desert race, the Marathon des Sables, so prominent in the minds of iRunFar these days, we’ll post a feature on the Libyan Challenge in the next few days.
The 4th annual Black Warrior 50k, 25k and Three Person Relay takes place this weekend in Blackhead National Forest, Moulton, Alabama. The course begins at the Brushy Lake Recreational Area, covering approximately 2.6 miles on gravel road before heading to scenic, single-track trails. The 26 miles of single-track trails follow the 3 horse trail loops in the wildlife management area (The Key Mill Loop, The Brushy Loop, and the Pine Torch Loop). The last 2.8 miles return runners to gravel roads. The course is entirely comprised of rolling hills. Although there are no “major” climbs, there are some moderately challenging sections. There are also several creek crossings.
The kickoff event for the 2009 Oregon Trail Ultramarathon Trail Series, the Hagg Lake Trail Run, takes place on Saturday (25k and 50k options). “Hagg Lake doesn’t offer the same spectacular scenery as some of the summer alpine runs,” but it probably offers “more mud than any other course in Oregon (ask anyone who ran this race in the past).” The course is a loop course (2 for the 50k, 1 for the 25k) around Hagg Lake, located 25 miles southwest of the City of Portland near the City of Forest Grove, resting at the base of Oregon’s coastal range.
Liberty Park in Cerritos, California will host the Orange Curtain 100k/50k Ultra Races this weekend. The course is a 10k out-and-back along a 5k segment of the asphalt and dirt bike path on the east side of the San Gabriel River in Cerritos, Lakewood, and Long Beach, California. The race course starts just south of South Street in Cerritos and travels south 5k to a point midway between Wardlow and Spring Streets. Most (90%) of the bike path has a dirt path alongside. The 10% lacking the dirt path is mainly the 3 underpasses at Del Amo, Carson, and Wardlow. So for most of the course, you have a choice of running on pavement predominately asphalt or dirt.
Lastly, if you happen to be a member of the “Fellowship of the Ring” (no, this has nothing to do with Frodo) you can take a stab at The Reverse Ring – The Winter Massanutten Trail Circuit Run. Open only to those who have have successfully completed a fall running of The Ring and who have become a member of the so-called “Fellowship of The Ring“, The Reverse Ring is a roughly 71-mile counter-clockwise circuit of the Massanutten Trail.
There are also a few marathons to choose from this weekend, including the following :
Saturday, February 21
Lillian Larsen School – Eileen Rogers San Miguel Buzz Marathon (San Miguel, CA)
As always, you can click on any of the marathons listed above and peruse its website for more information.
That will wrap things up for this week. Be sure to stop by iRunFar.com next week for another edition of This Week In Running !