Race: Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra

Runner: Coach Mark Cliggett

Race Date: 11/17/2018

Location: Rocky Mount, Virginia

Results: 119.46 miles, 1st place overall

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1975515511/overview

crooked road 24 hour race report
Photo: Ricky Scott

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

Nice people, nice setting, well-organized. The win was nice also.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

There isn’t really anything about the race that wasn’t good. VA is a long way to travel, and the food options in Rocky Mount are pretty limited.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

People running endless 1.17 mile loops like hamsters?

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

Last year I didn’t really have a nutrition plan and I paid for it when my stomach went off for a few hours. This year I had a plan (mostly liquid simple stuff) and had no issues. Although I won last year also, this year I had a pretty good runner chasing me for the last 11 hours so I had to focus to keep my lead whereas last year I was able to coast a fair amount towards the end.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

You don’t really need crew at this race. I borrowed a chair and set it up about 2 feet from the path we were running on, with all my food and gear. I lost very little time taking care of my needs.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

My original distance goal for this race was way too ambitious. I knew that going in and planned to dial back early if I wasn’t feeling it – which I did, and it worked out. It would be interesting to have the right (ambitious but achievable) goal and see what that kind of race is like. I know what it feels like to run a very good marathon. After 2 24 hour races, I don’t think I know what a very good 24 hour race feels like.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The logistics of this race are very easy (once you get there). A 1.17 mile loop, with a heated bathroom near the start finish. You never have to worry about anything. If you forget someone on one pass, you’ll be back there ~15 minutes later and can take care of it. The course is “flat” but there is probably 50 feet of easy climbing in each lap. Over ~100 laps, that adds up to 5000 feet which most people would not call flat.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes. A path around two fields in the Virginia woods, with the Pigg River a few feet away for at least half of the course. It’s not a dramatic setting but it’s beautiful. At least on a sunny day…

Competition – Is there a strong field?

If I win the race, the competition can’t be too strong. That said, the people who do show up are pretty capable and the winning distances are gradually creeping upwards. And everyone who shows up works hard. More than half the field (166 starters) ran 50 miles or more.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Sign up is easy, although this year the race sold out for the first time a few days before the race.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Coke is usually my Elixir Of The Gods in races, but Crooked Road had something better – sweet tea. Non-carbonated, caffeine, sugar, water. Maybe that’s offered at other races in the south, but I’ve only seen it at Crooked Road. They had several great soup options at night. They also had pizza and hamburgers at different points, but I stayed away from those.

Weather and typical race conditions

Based on my 2 experiences, pretty dang good weather – sunny, cool, some wind last year but none this year. I’m told those were the 2 nicest weather years though. It’s probably pretty bleak in bad weather.

How’s the Swag?

Nice quality hat and shirt. Unusual winners trophies (miniature instruments). Nothing about the race, including the swag, feels cheap.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

For what it is, it’s an excellent race. It’s not a bucket-list race and it’s not the fastest 24 hour course out there. There are easier places to get to. But as a place to test yourself against a 24 hour clock, it’s a great option, especially if you have another reason to be near Virginia in November.

To read more about Mark’s race and to see more photos, check out his personal blog post at: https://pointlenana.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/9925/

Mark Cliggett is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Mark, check out his coaching page.