Table Rock 50k Race Report – Austin Tiller

Race: Table Rock 50K

Runner: Austin Tiller

Race Date: 09/19/2020

Location: Morganton, NC

Results: 7:12:20 (30.6 miles)

Strava Activity Link:

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

  • The view when I got close to the summit was breathtaking. I had never been there before and had only seen photos. It snuck up on me and was an amazing relief at the end of a long and tough climb.
  • The weather was amazing. My last 50K was cold and wet/rainy. They said this was the best weather/temperatures they’ve ever had at this race.
  • Considering #2020, the support and logistics were amazing and very comfortable.
table rock ultra 50k
Photo: White Blaze Marketing

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

  • No way I could’ve known how tough that 4 mile climb to the summit was going to be. That really put a damper on my spirits and my overall time. I’ll definitely know better for next time and will know what to train for. Especially if the course is ran in the normal (opposite to this year) direction. Having that climb at the 2/3 mark instead of the 1/3 mark might be a lot more difficult.
  • My GPS started getting really off around the the 1/3 mark and I was losing some motivation about 1/2 way when I was thinking I was really off pace. It wasn’t until l was at the last aid station and they told me how much I really had left that I kind of let that go.

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

  • Nothing particularly weird?
  • They did a good job with handling the starts and aid stations that the COVID protocols didn’t feel very awkward.
  • My GPS situation?

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

  • I didn’t quit!
  • I enjoyed the course and the weather.
  • I learned even more about my body and how to approach a 50K.

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

  • Finishing a 50K is an achievement on its own.
  • I was definitely reminded that it’s okay to not be perfect the first time on any race.
  • Take the results with a grain of salt because there are so many more factors that affect your performance/results in a race that long.
  • No 20 mile training run will be a perfect example of the actual 31-ish mile race.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • More practice with the food/nutrition I plan to use.
  • I had a good timeline plan for arrival that morning but some personal factors made me use up all of my built-in extra time. Will give myself even more time if possible for the next time. I had a decent amount of time before my start-time but not as much “breathing” time as I would have liked.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

That 2-4 mile climb (depending on direction of course) before the summit is incredibly intense. Trying it out ahead of time could be super helpful if you’ve never done it. Otherwise, saving some energy for that climb would be very helpful.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Even on a slightly overcast morning, it was beautiful. When I was about a mile from the summit and glanced off to my right and saw a view of the valley/gorge I was caught off-guard at how beautiful the view was. The rest of course was a beautiful forest and set of rivers. Even the woods around the gravel roads were pretty.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Fairly good amount of climbing. 5-5.5K of vert for the course is pretty good for our area. I had only done that much over about 1.5-2 weeks of training. To do that all in one 50K course was very intense.

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

Considering the COVID situation and the fact that this could have been a solely self-supported run, they did a fantastic job with the aid stations and the staggered start situations. I didn’t feel anxious at all about the number of people around me and I’ve been pretty sensitive to that over the past few months.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Based on the results, I would say that the top 25-ish% is pretty strong.

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.

Next year, I would definitely try planning on camping at the campground where the start/finish is so that the morning is easier and it would be easier to relax afterwards.

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

Considering the COVID situation they did a great job with pre-packaged foods and a comfortable way of handling drinks and beverage refills. I think that on a normal year, the food is definitely what you would expect.

Weather and typical race conditions

Was much cooler this year than what they normally expect. I think the high was around 70? They said that it can be up, close to 90 by the time you’re on the last stretch in a normal year. I was very thankful for this considering some struggles I’ve had in the heat this year.

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

Hiking/Trekking Poles!

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

On a normal year, I think they would allow some crews or there might be some places for spectators along the road sections of the course.

How’s the Swag?

I got a shirt, hoodie, and socks!!

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

If you don’t mind climbing, I’d say this is a 5/5 stars for me!

table rock ultra 50k
Photo: White Blaze Marketing