This Week In Running (Week of 2/28 & 3/1)

It’s Wednesday, and time for the Tony Portera birthday edition of This Week In Running. Today we will take a look at some of the races that are on tap for the weekend of February 28 and March 1, 2009, including our featured race, the USA Track & Field 50k National Championship event being held at Caumsett Park in Lloyd Harbor, York on March 1. But first, how about a quick shout out to Todd Braje of McKinleyville, California, who on February 9 recorded the fastest 50-mile time in the United States in more than 4 years (5:30:50) en route to winning the Jed Smith Ultra Classic. Congratulations Todd ! Now, let’s take a look at our featured race…..

A field of over 100 ultrarunners are expected to turn out for the USA Track and Field 50k National Championships at Caumsett State Historic Park, its fourth consecutive year hosting this national championship event, on Sunday, March 1. Many top national and local ultrarunners are expected to participate, including iRunFar contributor Kevin Sullivan, Justin Fyffe, Mark Godale (4th place in 2008), David James, Dane Rauschenberg, Phillip McCarthy (10th place in 2008), Roy Pirrung, Anna Fyodorova (the 2007 women’s winner), Annette Bednosky, and Kami Semik. In last year’s event, Michael Wardian of Arlington, Virginia shattered the old course record by more than 9 minutes (2:55:05), leading from the start to the finish. Wardian went out strong with his sights set on the 50k national record of 2:51:48 (held by Alex Tilson) and was on pace to do so after 9 loops of the 12-loop course, only to fall short by a few minutes. (However, Wardian did set the 50k road national championship record.) Rumor has it that Wardian will be making a return trip to Caumsett Park in 2009 !

Caumsett State Historic Park is situated on a scenic peninsula extending into Long Island Sound and offers miles of walking, jogging, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and nature trails over acres of woodland, meadows, rock shoreline and salt marsh. In 1921 Marshall Field III purchased 1750 acres of Lloyd Neck to create one large estate. He named the land after its Matinecock Indian name, Caumsett, which means “place by a sharp rock.” Field created a self-sufficient English-style estate as a combination country club, hunting preserve, and home, complete with its own water and electrical supply. When the estate was finished, it had facilities for every sport except golf. The park, acquired by New York State in 1961, offers diverse activities such as fishing, hiking, bird watching, nature photography, and nature study. The polo pony barn provides lessons, boarding & equestrian services as part of the Willow Tree Farm Equestrian Center. The summer cottage houses the Nassau BOCES Outdoor and Environmental Education Program. The Volunteers for Wildlife Hospital and Education Center is located in the “Calf Barn” of the park’s Dairy Complex which provides rehabilitation and hospitalization for Long Island’s injured wildlife. The historic Henry Lloyd Manor house built in 1711 is leased to the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society which provides historic interpretation of life during the colonial period.

The course is a 2.634687 mile loop (11.792125 laps of it), run entirely on a paved path. There are two small inclines per loop. Each loop has two aid stations, one offering water and food, the other with fluids only.

A OK Atoka 50k trail raceAlso taking place on Sunday is the A-OK Atoka 50k/25k Trail Race in Atoka, Oklahoma, a city named after a leader of the Choctaw Nation, Captain Atoka, the signer of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which began the process of re-locating the Choctaw people from Mississippi to Oklahoma in 1830. This “T shaped” out-and-back course is on well-defined private roads through pine and hardwood forest, with “enough hills and rocks to prevent boredom”. Jars of local honey are given to all finishers.

Want to run in the wild west on the historic Pony Express Trail… of charge ? Make sure to check out the Pony Express Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run in Utah (50-mile option as well). This event has no aid stations, no course markings, no awards and no sponsors. What do you get ? Jack rabbits, giant ant hills and tumbleweed. The entire course is run on dirt road in a VERY remote location (a support crew is required), with about 5,000 feet of elevation gain/loss. In fact, crews are advised to have a good jack, wrench and spare tire on hand. The race web-site has an interesting write up on the kinship between “The Pony Express and Ultrarunning“.

The Mount Mitchell Challenge takes place in Black Mountain, North Carolina on Saturday. This race has long been sold out. This event was conceived by race founders Wendell Begley and Trent Thomas, with a goal of designing a race that was attainable physically, but offered the opportunity to test oneself against the often-uncooperative forces of nature. The Challenge begins at dawn in Black Mountain, the quaint “front porch of Western North Carolina”, and follows trails to the “rooftop” of Western North Carolina, the 6,684 foot summit of Mount Mitchell – eastern America’s highest point – then returns to the start/finish area. With a starting altitude of 2,360 feet, the elevation gain for this 40-mile run will be 4,324 feet, all in the first 20 miles. (Read Bryon’s 2008 Mount Mitchell Challenge Race Report)

Mount Mitchell Challenge Course Profile

The last event we preview this week is the PCTR Sequoia Trail Run in Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland, California. 10k, 20k, 30k & 50k options are all sold out. The course travels through Joaquin Miller Park to Redwood Regional park, and offers spectacular views of the Oakland Hills and Bay Area. The 20k, 30k & 50k events wind through tall redwoods on the popular French Trail, and return on the Golden Spike and West Ridge trails. Fully stocked aid stations are located about every 3-12 kilometers, but it is recommeded that runners carry at least 20 oz. of water between aid stations.

There are also a few marathons to choose from this weekend, including the following:

Saturday, February 28

Black Mountain Marathon (Black Mountain, NC – this event is held simultaeously with the Mount Mitchell Challenge)
Cowtown Marathon (Fort Worth, TX)

Sunday, March 1

B&A Trail Marathon (Severna Park, MD)

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 next week for another edition of This Week In Running !