This Week In Running (Week of 2/7 & 2/8)

Another winter Wednesday brings another edition of This Week In Running. Today’s edition of TWIR will preview a spring-like selection of the races that are on tap for the weekend of February 7 and February 8, 2009, including our featured race, the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run. But first…. Last week we mentioned the potential resurrection of‘s “My Places” feature, an opportunity for you, the reader, to share information (pictures, commentary, etc…) with other readers about some of your favorite places to run. We need you for “My Places” to be successful, so, if you have one of those special places that you might be interested in sharing in a future TWIR post, let us know ! Now let’s get to this week’s events.

Huntsville State Park will play host to the 17th annual Rocky Raccoon 100 (and 50) Mile Trail Run this weekend. Built for speed and comfort, the course consists of single track and jeep roads with minimal elevation gain. A vast majority of the course rides on a bed of pine needles and dirt. Most of the single track is covered with roots (so, watch your step). Both the 50 and 100 mile events are run on a loop course, with the 100-miler being five (5) 20-mile loops, and the 50-miler being three (3) 16.67 mile loops. The 100 and 50 mile courses are virtually the same, with the exception of a shortcut taken by the 50-milers from Dam Road back to Dam Road.

Those familiar with the course may be a bit surprised this year. Race director Joe Prusaitis writes, “the course for 2009 has gone through a few changes. It will no longer be the route it has been for the last 15+ years. And if you recently looked at our new route, you need to look again, because I had to change it even further. We will NOT be using the LST (Lone Star Trail) as part of the Sam Houston NF. So, there are many new changes for Rocky, but it will be the same super support we always provide.”

If you are looking for a 100-mile race in which to finish sub-24 hours, this could be it. Since its inception, 71% of starters have finished (1374 of 1943), and of those finishing, 50% (691) have done so in less than 24 hours, earning the coveted “Sub-24 Hour” belt buckle. The 100-mile cutoff is 30 hours. The course record in the 100-mile event has held up since 1996 (Eric Clifton in 13:16:02), despite Jorge Pacheco’s run at it in 2006 (13:16:56). Pacheco has won this event in 3 of the last 4 years (2005, 2006 & 2008) – he did not participate in 2007. We understand that Pacheco was registered for the 2009 event, but had to withdraw due to injury. Jenn Shelton holds the women’s course record (14:57:18 in 2007). Despite Pacheco’s withdrawal, the 2009 100-miler still boasts an exception elite field, including Andy Jones-Wilkins and Jamie Donaldson.

The Wild Oak Trail 100 mile bumper stickerThere’s also a 100-miler non-event taking place this weekend: The Wild Oak Trail 100. This “no fee, no aid, no awards, no time limit and no scoring” event is described as “so easy my grandmother could do it and she’s dead”. Furthermore, “this is not a race. Expect nothing that you would get at a race. Do expect, however, a fantastic, challenging trail. It will likely be very cold and there will probably be snow on the ground. The course will not be marked and if you have a crew, he or she can’t see you very often at all. This is absolutely not for everyone, but for the right people this is a fantastic experience.”

As our readers know, TWIR loves races that come with warnings. The Wild Oak Trail 100 doesn’t disappoint, in fact, the event offers some “guidelines” to determine if you are “invited” to participate that we just love…..

1. If you are even the least bit worried or concerned about getting lost, don’t come.
2. If you have questions, don’t come.
3. If you need a crew, don’t come.
4. If you need toilet paper to wipe your ass after shitting in the woods, don’t come.
5. If you expect to be pampered in any way shape or form, don’t come.
6. If you’re a whiner, don’t come.
7. If you’re a freeloader, don’t come.
8. If you’re seeking fame and/or fortune, don’t come.
9. If you’re thinking about writing a report about your experience at Wild Oak, don’t come.
10. If you crave abuse, if you yearn for abuse, if you are addicted to abuse in any way shape or form (be it physical, mental, sexual, verbal, mathematical, artistic or whatevah) BY ALL MEANS, BE MY GUEST. (This applies to abusees only. Abusers are not welcome. The only abuser allowed is the trail.)

[Trail Goat Note: The above image was taken by Tom Corris and is found on the VHTRC website. For additional entertainment, check out the full image, which includes an ultra-legend at TWOT.]

Dances with Dirt Green Swamp 50 mileThe Dances with Dirt Green Swamp will take place on February 7 in Dade City, Florida, featuring a 50 mile and 50k ultra run, a 50 mile relay, a marathon, and a 1/2 marathon. “Our dream, er should I say nightmare, is to have four such life liftin’ opportunities a year, like the changin’ of the seasons…..a quarterly chance to check reality at the door and tear into the terrain with all senses screamin’, not dreamin’!….Four opportunities to avoid midlife crisis, regular visits to the shrink and suicidal tendencies, kinda like a good spankin’.” DWD – Green Swamp is the Winter event, with Spring (DWD – Gnaw Bone, Indiana), Summer (DWD – Devil’s Lake, Michigan), and Fall (DWD – Hell, Michigan) to follow. For a complete course description and a “what to expect” analysis, click HERE, and watch out for the gators !

“No Fees, No Frills and No Wimps” were expected
at the 6th annual White Rock Classic 50k in Turner Bend, Arkansas on February 7, which runs to the top of White Rock Mountain and back with about 5,400 feet of total climb and descent. However, if you have set your sights on doing this run, make sure to check the website as “the status of the 2009 White Rock Classic for February 7th is currently tentative….Recent ice storms have caused significant damage in the area and it is not known at this time if the course will be clear….a final determination may not be made until Wednesday the 4th.”

The 31st annual Jed Smith Ultra Classic (30k, 50k, 50m), billed as “The Fastest Ultra in the West” takes place on February 7 in Sacramento, California. The course is a 3.3 mile loop around scenic Gibson Ranch, half of which is manicured dirt trails, with the other half on paved roads. There are two aid stations per loop stocked with water, electrolyte replacement drink, and general ultra food.

Uwharrie Mountain Run 40 mileThe Uwharrie Mountain Run kicks off in Uwaharrie National Forest, North Carolina on February 7, offering 40-mile, 20-mile and 8-mile runs. This event is sold out. The course is entirely run on the Uwharrie Trail in the Uwharrie National Forest. The 8-mile and 20-mile courses are point to point. The 40-mile course is out and back, with a turnaround at the 20-mile finish. TRAIL WARNINGS = AWESOME ! “Running the Uwharrie Trail is a true adventure that requires intense concentration. The national forest terrain is hilly and the trail is treacherous. Fallen leaves conceal rocks, roots, sticks, and holes. Expect to trip and fall at least once during the day. If you turn an ankle, keep moving. Dutchman’s Creek flows along part of the trail and runners will enjoy numerous stream crossings, which may mean wet feet if you aren’t careful. The creek water is not safe to drink.” It’s worth noting that Uwharrie has a carbon neutral plan that has it set to “address [CO2 -related] all aspects of the event, including participant lodging and waste generation ” in 2009.

Woodside Trail Run by PCTRAfter a brief respite, Pacific Coast Trail Runs are back with the Woodside Trail Run (50k, 35k, 17k and 10k) in Huddart County Park, Woodside, California. The 50k has 4,530 feet of elevation gain/loss. Runners can expect to “experience the towering redwoods, lush ferns, and beautiful trails through Huddart Park, King’s Mountain, Bear Gulch, and Wunderlich Park.”

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

Saturday, February 7

Death Valley Trail Marathon (Death Valley, CA)
The Sedona Marathon (Sedona, AZ)

Sunday, February 8

Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon (Melbourne, FL)
Valentine Marathon (Olympia, WA)

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 !