Race: Lake Martin 100
Runner: Rick Harris
Race Date: 03/20/2021
Location: Lake Martin, Alexander City, AL
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- Support. Aid stations were well-run and (if you register early enough) you can also get lodging at a nice cabin just 3 miles from the start.
- Efficient, looped course. Don’t have to figure out a plethora of drop bags. Only two aid stations that you hit a total of 4 times each 25-mile circuit makes for easier planning.
- 32-hr cutoff makes this a good first 100-miler.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
First 100-miler, so nothing to compare it to. Maybe next time.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
It’s called the Lake Martin endurance run, but you don’t really see much of the lake at all.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I held back just a little during the first half, but not too much that I was pushing cutoffs. Getting through the first 50 miles in less than 11:30 took pressure off and I knew, barring anything super weird, I would be able to finish.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- This race advertises rolling hills. Don’t be fooled, the hills are RELENTLESS! 13,000 feet of elevation gain with hardly any actual flat areas. Unless you are a front-of-the-packer, plan to hike the uphills; even though they all are “runnable” on their own, they seem to get a lot higher after 75 miles.
- You will pass the start/finish twice per circuit. You can easily bring extra gear since parking is right there.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Work on better hill endurance and stronger climbing. Improve on power hiking. Bring more almond butter packets!
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The final 6 miles of each circuit are the most challenging and most technical. If you use hiking poles, have them at the start/finish aid station so you can grab them for the 6-mile loop that starts/ends at the start/finish.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Even though you don’t see much of the lake, it is very pretty. Southern forests and some horses at the end of the last 6-mile loop.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
It is not too technical. Most of the trail is single-track with roots. But, the hills are sneaky and are likely the most insidious threat to the runner who doesn’t keep that in mind.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Very well run. The RD will still count you as a finisher if you exceed the 32-hr cutoff as long as you make it to the finish before they have to pack up (more on that in the runners manual).
Competition – Is there a strong field?
The field was varied. Walter Handloser ran this year and Karl Meltzer has the course record. So, the field isn’t very competitive but it does attract serious amateurs with the random appearance of a big-ish name who shows up just to have fun running an ultra without the fanfare.
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.
If you want to rent a cabin close to the start, you need to get on that right away. If you choose to rent a hotel in town, you don’t want to wait since the lodging selections close-in are limited.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Standard fare throughout the day. Coffee, pancakes, grilled cheese, and quesadillas as the night wore on and morning came around.
Weather and typical race conditions
Slightly warm during the day and cool overnight. This year, it was low/mid 60s during the day and high 30s/low 40s overnight.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
I appreciated poles for the last 6 miles of the last two circuits. But, I found it better to leave them with my gear stashed at the start/finish since I found them more of a nuisance than a help for the first 19 miles of each circuit.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
With only two aid stations with car access to each (short walk from parking up the hill to the Heaven Hill aid station), it is very crew and spectator-friendly.
How’s the Swag?
The buckle is shiny and solid. The shirt is soft. I’d rate it high.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5 out of 5 stars for my first 100-miler.