This Week In Running (Week of 4/4 & 4/5)

Welcome to today’s edition of This Week In Running, and a preview of a few of the races/events on tap for the weekend of April 4 and April 5, 2009. TWIR is heading to William B. Umstead State Park near Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend for the 15th annual Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run. Thus, not only will this week’s edition of TWIR be brief, but it should come as no surprise to our readers that this week’s featured event is the one that we will be logging miles at – the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run !

Gently tucked between the cities of Raleigh, Cary and Durham, North Carolina is an “oasis of tranquility, a peaceful haven” that is William B. Umstead State Park. It is a place where “two worlds merge as the sounds of civilization give way to the unhurried rhythm of nature,” where “highways fade in the distance as trees, flowers, birds and streams form a more natural community,” and where, on Saturday, April 4th, the 15th running of the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run will kick off. Umstead 100 is 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.”

The Umstead 100 course is a 12.5 mile loop (with spurs) run 8 times. Each loop as two out-and-back “spurs”. The Headquarters Spur is 1.85 miles in length and is used to access the start/finish aid station. The Airport Spur is .75 miles in length and is only run on the outbound leg of each loop. The course traverses a converted dirt road that now serves as a jogging, biking and bridle trail. With a width of 10 to 15 feet, the trail offers excellent footing, no single-track, and no creek crossings. The surface of the course is primarily fine packed powdered, granite screenings. There is crusher run material located on a portion of the course that is a vehicle access road. Rolling topography provides a total of 8,000 feet of climbing over the 100 miles (1,000 feet per loop) making the course entirely runnable.

Each 12.5 mile loop has 2 aid stations (the Headquarters aid station and “Tom & Jerry’s Ptomaine Tavern”, which is located at the 6.85 mile mark). There are also several (7) unmanned “water only” stops in each loop. The 2 full, “second to none” aid stations contain just about everything under the sun – cookies, fruit, potato slices, sandwiches, hard candy, candy bars, bananas, crackers, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, pretzels, trail mix, soup, ice cream, yogurt, pizza, water, Gatorade, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, coffee, southern tea, fruit juices and milk – hungry yet ?

In the 2008 running, both the men’s and women’s winners cruised to victory. Serge Arbona took the men’s title in a time of 15:53:09, besting Dan Rose (3rd overall) by over an hour and 10 minutes. William Burns took 4th (19:18:37) just ahead of Matt Silva (19:19:27). On the women’s side, Jamie Donaldson started her incredible 2008 racing season by taking 2nd place overall with a time of 16:21:10, a mere 28 minutes behind the overall winner, and over 3 hours ahead of the closest female finisher. Lisa Bliss took 2nd (7th overall – 19:42:44). Arbona is slated to return in 2009 to defend his title.

We next move to the 10th annual Chicago Lakefront 50k, which starts and finishes on Chicago’s lakefront at Foster Avenue Beach House. With a 7 hour time limit (an early start option is available), this event consists of 3 out-and-back segments of 10.3+ miles following the Lakefront running path. The course is mostly gravel with some asphalt sections (78% crushed limestone and cinder path / 22% paved bike path). It is dubbed as “one of the flattest 50k’s in North America.”

TWIR thought it might be fun to throw in an event that adds some good old brew to the mix, hence the Brew to Brew 44 Mile Solo and Relay (from Kansas City to Lawrence). It isn’t all about the brew. This event supports the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, with over $4 of every entry going to help defeat the disease. 18 miles is run on dirt or gravel, with the rest covering the shoulder of the road (part pavement, part gravel). “Watch the weather channel….We are promising rain and sleet driven by 40 MPH winds with 6 inches of slush on the ground…..Or it could be 80 degrees like 1995, or near perfect like 1996…..Solo runners should carry a waterproof jacket.”

Lastly, the American River 50-Mile Endurance Run is, well, the American River 50. While slightly uphill overall (net gain of less than 1,300′), the course can be described as flat and fast… at least in comparison to most trail 50 milers. The first 20-some miles are run on a pancake-flat bike path with the remainder on single track. Not surprisingly, the entire course runs along the American River. The course’s biggest challenge comes in the form of a 1,000′ climb in the course’s final 3 miles. If you’re looking for a fast 50 mile time or hoping for a spot in this year’s Western States 100 (the AR50 is the penultimate race in the Montrail Ultra Cup), we hope you’re toeing the line at the AR50.

There are, of course, a number marathons to choose from this weekend, including the following :

Saturday, April 4
Golden Gate Marathon (Sausalito, CA)
Rockin K Trail Marathon (Kanopolis State Park, KS)
Re/Max, Children’s Miracle Network Trailbreaker Marathon (Waukesha, WI)
Yakima River Canyon Marathon (Yakima, WA)

Sunday, April 5
Athens Marathon (Athens, OH)
Big-D Texas Marathon (Dallas, TX)
Hogeye Marathon (Fayetteville, AR)
Running Fit Martian Marathon (Novi, MI)

Feel free to click on any of the marathons listed above and peruse its website for more information.

That will put the wraps on things for this week. Be sure to stop by next week for another edition of This Week In Running !