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.
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.
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” !