Race: Riverlands 100

Runner: Bucky Love

Race Date: 5/8/2021

Location: Androscoggin Riverlands State Park, Turner, Maine

Results: 26hrs 56mins

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5268417648

riverlands 100 race report
Photo: Ian Parlin

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

1. The atmosphere and overall energy of a small “home town” race. Everyone learns your name kind of feel and you really feel like they are rooting for you to succeed. You can really feel the heart and soul that is put into this race for the organizers and volunteers.
2. The smooth transitions in and out of aid stations. Everyone at the aid stations were full of experienced trail ultra runners. They knew how to keep you moving, what questions to ask, and to help you think and manage your race. Not to mention that the aid stations were well stocked with great variety and perfect placement.
3. The trail variety. You get some good New England technical (rooty/rocky) for about half the course and ATV gravel roads for the other. It breaks it up nicely so you never really get bored of one or the other.

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

If you don’t like repeating the same out and back 12 1/2 miles for 100 miles then this race isn’t for you. There is also not much flat to speak of. There isn’t any real challenging climbs, but lots of slight up or down grades.

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

The last mule in the barn award. The last finisher that makes the 32 hour cut off gets a race engraved mule mug with a local Maine ginger beer and Maine vodka to make a “Maine Mule”.

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

I was able to enjoy the experience and keep a smile on my face. I finished feeling strong and had no real times of absolute misery that so often come with running a 100.

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

Bring a bright headlamp or waist belt. Light that trail up like Las Vegas. There are so many roots and rocks that if you want to “run” during the night hours you will want to be able to see where you are going. The best runners had 800 lumen or higher waist belts and head lamps too.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

To bring a better head lamp so I can push more during the last lap at night. I saved too much for the last lap and didn’t push because I changed my goal from a sub 24 hour to “I don’t care, I can walk the last lap and still finish on time. I am going to enjoy myself”.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Lots of roots, rocks, and small climbs that add up over time.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

I think it is a pretty course. Not any real spanning views or high mountain views, but you get a nice forest run, and some views of the river along the way.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

I think it is a tough course given the nature of New England type single tracks for 1/2 the course and the consistent ups and downs. The course record held by Mark Hammond is in the mid 17 hours which I think speaks to it being a difficult course. I don’t think this is a course anyone would set out to achieve a PR on.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

I felt that the organization was top notch and a smooth operation. They didn’t appear to run out of any needs at the aid stations, answered questions asked, had a well-marked course, and good instructions and information before. This is the 4th year running the event and as a runner I couldn’t tell that anything was amiss or missing.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

The field is small and no real “big” names came out this year. It is a small field and under 60 starters this year.

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.

I think registering early is best. The race did fill up and at one point the race director had a wait list as long as the max amount of entrants. They end up taking everyone off the waitlist, due to cancelations over the course of the prior months, but the race is getting more known each year. The field will always be limited and small because of limitations set by the state park. Traveling and hotels shouldn’t be an issue, as you could get a hotel within 20 mins of the start easy. If you want to camp at the local camp ground (Martin Stream Campground, Turner ME) down the road where the pre-race dinner and post-race get together are held then you want to reserve that far in advance as they sell out of space almost quicker then the race filling it it self.

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

I would say it was pretty standard assortment of hot and cold foods with a variety of savory and sweet. They fresh grill bacon, eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and more throughout the event. They offered great homemade soups and broths with options for vegetarians as well. I saw one runner with a diabetic concerns and they helped identify foods safe for his consumption, which I thought was very cool.

Weather and typical race conditions

The weather was perfect on my race day. Average temp in the fifties, cloudy the first day, but no rain. Sunny in the morning. Not too cold at night, for me. I wore the same shorts and long sleeve shirt the entire event and never once considered putting on my jacket. I rolled up my sleeves on and off. However, I know that if they event had not been canceled last year there would have been freezing temperatures and a big snow storm the day before and during the race. This is an early May run, the weather can truly be anything so come prepared for all conditions. It is also good even it if is warm to have cold weather clothing in a drop back as it is not uncommon for early May temps to drop below freezing at night.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

I would say just a really good headlamp or light belt or both, as I mentioned above you will want to see the trail the best you can.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

No, not really. Spectators are only really allowed at the start/finish area and they discourage anyone for hanging out at the middle or other end aid stations due to space limitations. You will see the runner 3 times between at the aid station, but it can be 4-8 hours between sightings. Best to encourage your friends to volunteer at an aid station.

How’s the Swag?

Average swag – shirts, bumper sticker, finishers buckle, and an option to buy a finishers sweatshirt if you finish.

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

Personally, I give the race 5 stars out of 5. I cannot imagine myself enjoying a 100 miles more. It isn’t the prettiest race, the fastest race, or the most challenging race, but the good nature, high energy small town feel is hard to beat in my book. For full disclosure this is a “friends” race for me. I am part of the running group that hosts the event and I spent a lot of time before helping set up the race, it means something special to me personally, but I also believe that feeling carries over to anyone who signs up.