plain 100 mark cliggett
Photo: Ross Comer

Race: Plain 100

Runner: Mark Cliggett

Race Date: 9/16/17

Location: Plain, WA

Results: 34 hours

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

  • Very friendly, low-key, well-organized race.
  • Mostly self-supported – all the challenges of a typical hard 100 mile race PLUS no course markings, no pacers, and only one drop bag/aid station at the 100k mark.
  • It’s empty out there! Between the race and some scouting runs, I spent 64 hours on the course and only saw one other person on the trails (plus a few other runners during the race).

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

I can’t think of anything about the race itself that didn’t work. My knee went janky about 2/3 of the way in – probably due to a slightly-tweaked hamstring a couple weeks before. Having to stop and stretch my quad every 5 minutes for the last 12-14 hours wasn’t the best thing in the world.

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

The trails are used and mostly maintained by motorcycle clubs, so the trail is reinforced in places with weird concrete lattice and in other places it has mogul-like dips and rises. Think of a washboard but on a huge scale – 30 feet between dips.

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

I finished! This is not an easy race to finish period, and my knee slowed me. But I took care of issues as they happened, stayed focused on moving forward as well as I could, and eventually crossed the line.

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

Scout the course before the race. There are clear directions but there are no course markings and people regularly make wrong turns during the race. (E.g. this year someone fast passed me about 10 miles in after making a wrong turn near the beginning on the supposedly-straightforward dirt road and running 2-3 bonus miles.) It really helps to go through each intersection in daylight beforehand and figure out which turns are easy (most) and which are tricky (only a couple). Reality doesn’t quite match what you see on maps.

Plan to be by yourself for most of the race. In most races you’ll pass through an aid station every hour or two and see other people. At Plain you can easily spend 10 hours without seeing anyone.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

The Plain course is a little odd – it’s very pretty and wild, but it’s not a place that anyone would consider a destination given that the Enchantments are a few miles away. Still, there are big views, high meadows, creeks, big ascents and descents, and wildlife. In an area with less competition and/or closer to a city it would be filled with people.

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

For someone who wants a very challenging 100 mile race, Plain is awesome. It’s on trails and not as long as Barkley, doesn’t have the altitude of Hardrock, and doesn’t have the relentless climbs and descents of UTMB. But Plain has elements of all of those iconic races – self-supported, travel in remote areas, and a couple very big climbs (and plenty of relentless short ups and downs in sections that look flat on the maps). And unlike those races, it’s easy to get into and not expensive.

Want to read more? Full race report here

plain 100 race report
A rock that’s all the more special after finishing a race like Plain 100