Race: Dam Yeti 50 Miler
Runner: Angie Moses
Race Date: 06/04/2022
Location: Abingdon, Virginia
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- The atmosphere! Such a warm, fun, welcoming race that celebrates the fast and the slow! Everyone is supportive of one another and the energy is contagious.
- The scenery! You have a point to point for 30+ miles (the 55k is point to point and the 50 miler you turn around and run a section twice) and for 30 miles you have truly spectacular scenery to take in! A beautiful creek/river runs along a large portion of the course and the sounds and sights are magical! You also have a lot of tree coverage for a large portion of the race, which really helps with the long day and keeping you cooler and from burning.
- The overall course. Truly an excellent course for a first time ultra runner (in my opinion at least). It was my first 50 miler and I couldn’t have asked for a better course. You have a lot of downhill in the first half of the race, lots of shade. No significant climbs. All uphill was gradual and runnable. Great support at aid stations, the list goes on!
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
The only complaint I can come up with is that there wasn’t a ton of bathroom options (other than the woods) on the back half of the run. There is a bathroom at the Alvarado aid station; which you hit at mile 25 and again at 41.7– but the aid station at Watuga (that you will hit at miles 29.5, 37 and 46.5) doesn’t have a porta potty– so from 25 to 41.7 if you need to potty, your only option is the woods. I would have loved a bathroom at Watuga!
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
- There are some cattle gates, and a few gates on the Creeper Trail (Not sure I understand the purpose of the gates on the Creeper trail that doesn’t involve the cattle) that you have to open and close on the course.
- Another weird/interesting fact is that in the first 10ish miles, you are running downhill and with this course being a rails to trails course, trains use to expend a lot of coal to make it to the top of White Top mountain– so it is cautioned that you make sure to pick up your feet in those first few miles because a fall can result in some nasty cuts/wounds with sharp coal remnants.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Highlight is that I ran over an hour faster than I had anticipated for my first ever 50 miler, so I couldn’t be more proud of my race. I was able to stay very strong mentally and anytime anything would start to hurt or ache I would just tell myself “of course XYZ hurts… you’re at mile XX, it’s supposed to hurt!” I was able to accept my aches and pains as normal/expected aches and pains and continue to run the entire race. I would reward myself with walk breaks on the second half, mainly to make sure I took in fluids, but mentally just allowing myself a quick 20-30 second break was a nice reward, but then I could continue to run afterwards. I was really able to bank time in the first 20ish miles or so because there was so much downhill and shade– and we had a cool start to the race, so I was able to cruise for a good while and felt good. The race director’s moto was “start fast, and who knows, you just might end fast” and I kind of loved it! 🙂 I used it as a mantra several times during the race.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- I think the biggest lesson I learned, I mentioned above and a lot of it is being okay with feeling not okay. It takes time and understanding your body to understand a normal/expected hurt, that you have to accept and continue to push through versus a pain/hurt that isn’t normal that you would have to decide whether or not to continue.
- I think another thing I really took from this was maintaining a positive attitude during the race made a HUGE difference in my performance. I will admit that my mental game is one of my weakest links, so by frequently telling myself to “keep going, you are doing amazing” really did help boost my confidence and kept me moving in a run versus giving up on my abilities and succumbing to walking.
- It is a requirement to carry a hydration system (I used a Solomon vest and carried 32 oz on me) and 500 calories with you at the start. Be smart and drink plenty because there are a few sections that you are exposed and it does get warm, so you want to make sure to stayed hydrated.
- They keep basics at the aid stations, oranges, watermelon, salty snacks (The aid station in Damascus *I think* had a lady that had a whole table of assorted little debbies), several had vaseline, Gatorade, water, etc. It is a cupless race, and the volunteers are absolutely wonderful, so if you have your water bottle ready, you can tell them what you want, and they will fill it for you.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
It is breathtaking!
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
I think in the grand scheme of things, when is 50 miles not difficult? 🙂 But overall, I found the course fantastic and not one I would consider difficult– especially in the world of trail running. I wore road shoes and gaiters and had absolutely no issues with my shoe choice. It is crushed gravel and the uphills are gradual. Very runnable course.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
It is very organized. Jason Green the race director has several ultra trail races across the nation and does an absolutely fantastic job putting together a race. he has a laid back attitude, so if you didn’t know any better, you would think he’s flying by the seat of his pants, but in reality, it is a well-oiled machine that just doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
I think it depends on the year, but I think it is becoming more competitive. To put it in perspective, the race has been around since 2018, and this year I was 8th overall female and 12 overall participant. In 2018 I would have been 1st female and 6th overall, 2019 I would have been 2nd female and 7th overall, 2020 I would have been 1st female and 6th overall, and 2021 I would have been 2nd female and 4th overall. When looking at the top performances for females since the race started, 7 of the top 10 times came from this year alone! It has the potential to be very competitive, but that being said, Jason also doesn’t pick favorites or invite individuals to the race, it is first come, first serve, so whoever gets in on registration morning, that is who will be there.
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.
Registration opens up around the end of the year and this past year, sold out in 11 minutes, so if you are wanting in– you need to be sitting at your computer the morning the race opens up ready to pull the trigger. I would encourage booking a cabin or hotel even before you register; since you can always cancel your reservation if you don’t get in. There is a shuttle that takes you from the finish to the start if you are coming without support, so book a hotel or cabin closer to Abingdon and shuttle to the start. If you are coming with friends/family, I would encourage maybe an Airbnb of sorts in Whitetop where the start is located and then just have family drive you back to your cabin after it’s over (that’s what we did). I think this is personal preference. If you are going to want to shower and come back for the party for the day after your finish; then definitely book in Abingdon.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
It is a requirement to carry a hydration system (I used a Solomon vest and carried 32 oz on me) and 500 calories with you at the start.
They keep basics at the aid stations, oranges, watermelon, salty snacks (The aid station in Damascus *I think* had a lady that had a whole table of assorted little debbies), several had vaseline, Gatorade, water, etc. It is a cupless race, and the volunteers are absolutely wonderful, so if you have your water bottle ready, you can tell them what you want, and they will fill it for you.
Weather and typical race conditions
For me the weather was wonderful. Start was colder than normal from my understanding and I’m not sure what it was at the start at the top of Whitetop but you could see your breath! It was chilly! It topped out around high 70’s for our race, but I think it can easily get in the 80’s in Virginia around that time. So expect a cooler start at the top of the mountain, but to definitely warm up at the day progresses.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
It is a requirement to carry a hydration system (I used a Solomon vest and carried 32oz on me) and 500 calories with you at the start.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
It is! The race guide gives you good directions and options for your friends to see you. I had my 4 year old, 2 year old, and my husband along (along with my friends husband and 2 kids since she was running as well) and we had them stop at Watuga and see us at mile 29 and 37 and then again at the finish. You can have spectators at 6 total spots (one being the finish of course)– so truly, if your spectator wants to help aid you, there are a lot of options for them to be able to help out!
How’s the Swag?
Great! Yeti Trail Runners has a ton of swag that you can purchase additionally as well on the website! The tank top we got was great! There are tons of stickers and patches at the race you can get on race day! TONS of Yeti specific gear and swag you can purchase at packet pick up if you want more than what you get in your packet. We also got Yeti Trail socks which were great as well!
I made the mistake of not selecting to get the trucker hat when I registered for an additional price and was super bummed because it was an awesome hat, so that was a rookie mistake on my part.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
I would give it a 9 out of 10. I would have given it a 10 if there would have been a porta potty at Watuga! I would absolutely recommend the race to others!
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