This Week In Running (Week of 3/27 and 3/28)

This Week In Running for the week of March 27-28, 2010 highlights three 100 mile races: the Umstead 100 (NC), Moab 100 (UT), and Paulinskill Sussex 100 (NJ), as well as a number of shorter ultramarathons.

By on March 24, 2010 | Comments

This Week In RunningWe have an exciting week of ultrarunning ahead of us, filled with 100-milers, 50-milers, 50ks, and 24 hour runs, taking place all across this great nation. Today you will get a sneak peak at three 100-mile events : the Moab 100 (Moab, Utah); the self-supported fat-ass Paulinskill Sussex 100 (Mount Olive, NJ), and the event that sold out in less than 6 minutes, the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run (Raleigh, NC) – and that’s just the appetizer, as we take a roller coaster rider across the USA in this week’s edition of TWIR.

Umstead 100 mile logoWe begin, of course, with the 100-miler that TWIR will be attending, the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run in Raleigh, North Carolina. Yes, it is true, online registration closed for Umstead in less than 6 minutes! Designed to help new ultra runners bridge the quantum leap from 50 mile runs to the mountainous and more rigorous demands of most 100 mile endurance runs, Umstead allows those runners who have difficulty finishing 100 miles in 24 hours (or just finishing 100 miles period) the opportunity to do so when severe topography, heat, and getting lost are removed as major obstacles (see 2010 Race Information Packet).

The entire event takes place in Umstead State Park (near Raleigh and Cary, NC) and is run on a 12.5 mile loop with spurs (8 loops and you’ve hit 100 miles). The Headquarters Spur is 1.85 miles long and accesses the start/finish aid station, race headquarters and parking. This spur contains two-way traffic, allowing runners to see other runners who are up to 5.3 miles ahead/behind. The other “spur” is the .75 mile long Airport Spur. The course is along a converted dirt road, which now serves as a running, biking and bridle trail through the Park. The trail width varies between 10 and 15 feet and the footing is excellent. There is no single-track on the course. The surface consists primarily of hard-packed powdered, granite screenings, although there is crusher run material on the vehicle access road portion of the course leading into Camp Lapihio. 8,000 feet of climbing (1,000′ per loop) is covered on the course’s rolling topography. There are two fully-staffed aid stations, and several un-manned “water only” stops.

The Umstead 100 course records are held by David Luljak (14:38:43 – 1999) and Jill Perry (16:02:27 – 2009). The 2009 edition saw the race’s closest ever one/two finish in both the men’s and women’s categories, with Jill Perry (16:02:27) besting Kris Whorton (16:05:34) by a mere 3 minutes and 7 seconds, and Dave James (15:05:10) topping Joe Kulak (15:26:07) by just under 21 minutes. Perry is returning in 2010 to defend her 2009 title.

Moab 100 mile logoFrom North Carolina we head to Moab, Utah and the beautiful desert landscape that hosts the Moab 100. This year’s race is run on the Monitor and Merrimac trail, 16 miles North of Moab. Runners will tackle 6-mile laps and approximately 7,000 feet of climbing, with a 30 hour cut-off.  If you don’t finish within the cut-off, no worries, the race drops you into the 24 Hours of Utah event and gives you a finish time there.

Part of the Watchung Winter Ultras, the Paulinskill Sussex 100 in Mount Olive, New Jersey is self-supported, fat ass style. The Paulinskill Valley Trail and the Sussex Branch Trail are echoes from the past of thriving railroads that connect to the surrounding cultural and natural environment. Passing through the Highlands, Ridge and Valley physiographic provinces of northern New Jersey in Sussex and Warren counties, these once abandoned railroad corridors cross landscapes of mostly farmland, forests, streams and towns. The trails intersect at Warbasse Junction in Lafayette Township, Sussex County. Both corridors are part of Kittatinny Valley State Park and the New Jersey Trails Systems. The Paulinskill Valley Trail extends 27 miles from Knowlton east to its terminus at Sparta Junction. Rock outcroppings, farmlands, small towns, forests and wetlands are among the diverse landscape features found along the trail. The Sussex Branch Trail follows a 20-mile route beginning from the north at the Frankford Township-Branchville Borough boundary, and continues to its southern terminus in Byram Township at Waterloo Road. The trail passes through rural and forested landscapes in addition to swamps, lakes and small communities.

The 10th annual Chicago Lakefront 50k kicks off on Saturday in Chicago, Illinois. The race starts and finishes on Chicago’s lakefront at Foster Avenue Beach House, and consists of 3 out-and-back segments following the Lakefront running path that is mostly gravel with some asphalt sections. It is considered one of the flattest 50k’s in North America.

The Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in Lake Sonoma, Geyserville, California is sold out. The course is 82% single-track trail and 18% dirt fire road (and about 300 yards of pavement). The trail is consistently rolling with three significant climbs. There is about 10,500 feet of elevation gain/loss over the generally good quality trail. There are few rocks and almost no roots; however, much of the trail is seldom used and runners can expect many sticks and leaves.  Men’s and women’s course records were set in 2009 by Jonathan Olsen (7:30:58) and Suzanna Bon (8:43:30).

The Beast Series continues this week with the Terrapin Mountain 50k in Sedalia, Virginia  The multiple loop course has 7,560 feet of elevation gain. The 50k course records are held by Jordan Whitlock (4:13:27 – 2009) and Heather Fisher (5:09:52 – 2009). Check out the race web-site for more details.

Bel Monte Endurance RunsAnother Virginia race (this one is in Lyndhurst) is the Bel Monte Endurance Run (50 mile, 50k, 25k and 4 mile trail races). The 50 miler has 11,009 feet of elevation gain/loss with at least 3 significant climbs. The 50k is equally challenging and features 6,300 feet of elevation gain. Bradley Mongold (7:56:38 – 2009) and Amy Sproston (9:26:23 – 2009) hold the 50 mile course records, while husband and wife team Mark Lundblad (4:18:53 – 2008) and Anne Riddle Lundblad (4:55:19 – 2005) hold the 50k course records.

The 8th Gator Trail 50k takes place at Lake Waccamaw State Park, North Carolina. The park is located next to the 25 square-mile Lake Waccamaw and borders the Green Swamp, an area of major biological significance that harbors rare plants and abundant animal life. The 50k consists of 6 circuits of a flat, 5.2-mile loop on scenic pine and oak tree-lined park trails and roads. The course terrain is 90% trails (some wide with sandy or pine straw-covered firm footing, some narrow with foot-grabbing roots and possible muddy spots), 7% asphalt park roads, and 3% boardwalk over the swamp. About 20% of the trail is primitive and challenging. Roots and branches may cause you to trip and fall (sounds like a typical trail race).

Also take a look at the race web-sites of some of the other ultras taking place this weekend – Clinton Lake 30 Mile Trail Run (Dewitt, Illinois), Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50k (Syracuse, Utah), [Update: this is next weekend Hog’s Hunt 50k/25k (Huntsville, Texas), and Desert Dash (Boulder City, Nevada).  Of course, let us and our readers know what else is happening in ultra-world this weekend by leaving a comment with all the “dirt” !

Anthony Portera
Anthony Portera is a contributing author to