Southern Tour Ultra Race Report – Coach Cassie Nevins

Race: Southern Tour Ultra

Runner: Coach Cassie Nevins

Race Date: 01/21/2023

Location: Hamstead, NC

Results: 5:59:24

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/8433214633

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

  • This race is a ten mile loop course. You can stage gear at the start and they have a runners village where you can access your tent or camper on each lap if you chose to stay overnight.
  • The energy is so high at this race. There is a live band and music the entire time and because the have multiple events you are never alone on the course.
  • The course is a cross country style course, but the trail is wide enough to fit several runners. You don’t really deal with congestion at the start of this race.

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

There was one aid station about half way through the loop around mile 5. Unfortunately, it was unmanned and my second two loops the water was empty. I was using a hydration vest with bottles due to the description of the race informing us that there would be water halfway through. I would suggest using a bladder and refilling at the end of each 10 mile lap.

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

There is a relay going on as well as a last mind standing. It was wild to be close to mile thirty getting passed by someone running a six minute pace as well as seeing someone who had been awake for over 24 hours hobbling through all in the same event.

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

This was my first ultra race post partum. I did a good job bringing enough calories and managing my nutrition as well as building up safely over several months to get my first post partum 50k under my belt.

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

There is not a lot of aid. Be prepared to bring the nutrition and supplies that you enjoy and enough water to stage to refill your bottles or bladder.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

There are some fast sections on this course. I could have paced myself better on the first lap. There is also a lot of sand on this course so there was some muscle fatigue due to running on sand and an uneven surface that I had not trained for.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There are multiple events going on. The course was well marked, but I could see if you are fatigued where you could accidentally make a turn and complete the five mile loop that is for relay runners and last man standing runners instead of continuing onto the ten mile loop. Make sure you stay alert of the course markings.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

This course is close to Wilmington, NC and has waterfront views at two points. There is a lot of shade cover in several sections and wildlife in the area.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

For a coastal race, I was still able to gain 922 feet of vertical gain during the 50k event. Overall, it is a beginner friendly race and a great trail 50K if you are looking for a personal best.

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

I have done a few of the Without Limits races. I keep coming back because the make the events fun, care about runner safety, and provide really awesome swag and post race festivities.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I would say that most of the competition is local. There were some fast runners in all the events, but this is a great race to really test yourself and your personal limits.

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 are local to the area it is a great event to fit into your schedule. You could stay in Wilmington and only have a 20 minute drive to get the to start. The cost of this event is relatively low.

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

There was a water only aid station at mile 5. They do allow you to put a drop bag there, if you need to, but it is unmanned. There is a full aid station at the start/finish line at mile 10. They had gels, waffles, water, and gatorade.

Weather and typical race conditions

The weather was perfect. It was about 40 degrees at the start, but warmed to about 60 by the end.

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

I actually did this race in my hoka rincons and was perfectly fine. You could use trail shoes, but it wouldn’t be necessary if you prefer a pair of road shoes.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

This course is perfect to bring family and friends. There is a camping village that you run through each lap. I would say the finish line party and camping is really where all the fun happens. They had a live band and it was packed with spectators.

How’s the Swag?

The swag is perfect for this race. You get a rather large finisher medals and extremely soft t-shirt.

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

4.9- I loved this event, I just wish the water stop had water. I spent the last two laps running out about a mile to the 10 mile aid stop.

Cassie Nevins is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Bull City Half Marathon Race Report

Race: Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon

Race Date: 10/16/2022

Location: Durham, NC

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

  1. Nice and Friendly Volunteers
  2. Great Weather
  3. Awesome Snacks post race

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

The course was insane. That’s all really

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

My coach gave me 3 goals to meet. Either a 2:30 finish, a 2:50 finish or just a completion. I got a 2:50 finish.

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

Train with more hill repeats if you’re going to ever race in Durham.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Even as a new runner, you don’t need a camelbak for this race. I went back and forth about bringing a camel back or just a hand bottle to my first half. I am someone who would probably be considered as over hydrated most of the time I drink a lot during runs, it’s something I’m working on, and I didn’t need more then my bottle and a few aid station cups. The camelbak would have been unnecessary weight and back pain lol.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It is not new runner/ first half marathon friendly. I would not recommend this race to anyone who isn’t used to running half marathons or versed deep in hill repeats. I do not quit and I do not give up. I ran a 10k in this location a few months ago and it was hard but I finished. Some of the hills in this race were insane I couldn’t do them. The entire group of runners that I generally stayed with during the race ALL stopped running the hills around the 9 mile mark. That specific hill took around 5 minutes just to get up. It was very hard and very intense. There are little to no flat straightaways where you might have time to catch your breath or loosen up your legs a bit before the next huge hill. The rougher hills began around mile 5 but were manageable. Mile 9 onwards I just couldn’t do them despite how well my training went up to this race. It was mentally discouraging and made the last bit of the race difficult to complete. I was not ready for that. So I tried my best to keep a good fast pace during whatever straightaways were available because of how much time I lost finishing the rest of the hills.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Extremely difficult. I talked to some ladies after who said they have run multiple half marathons and they considered this one extreme as well. I guess that’s kind of a positive in itself that I completed something so difficult. ????

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

Very organized

Competition – Is there a strong field?

The first male was on his way back from the half marker at around a 5:50 pace. Only 4 males were in front of the lead female. It was cool to see how strong they were.

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.

No. Easy registration

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

5 total about every 2.25 miles

Weather and typical race conditions

Great weather

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

No.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Yes

How’s the Swag?

Nice shirt and medal.

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

4/5 I recommend it to experienced runners only, honestly.

Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon Race Report – Carrie Neiman

Pre-race photo from just below the start line!

Race: Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon

Runner: Coach Carrie Neiman

Race Date: 05/28/2022

Location: Black Mountain, NC

Results: 1:44:03 http://www.leetiming.com/DAWNHM2022_OA.htm

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

  1. Beautiful course with a nice combo of pavement and gravel roads
  2. Fast course, with much of it being downhill
  3. Great finish area with lots of opportunity for friends and family to cheer you on

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

The last bit of the race was on a sidewalk, which was fine until the very end when spectators lined both side of the sidewalk and I had to slow down to pass someone.

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

It starts at dawn, which is exactly 6:01 am!

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

I had a great training cycle with focus on downhill training and lots of pace and tempo training to aim for a PR. I was able to PR by almost 4 minutes. Much of that was due to the downhill but I also felt that my training was so much better than my last half and allowed me to keep a steady overall pace.

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

Train for the downhill! I did a fair amount of downhill training but could have done even more. My quads were sore the day or two after but no more than if I had done a good leg workout. I would highly encourage downhill treating though to help decrease this. I could tell some people were feeling it toward the end of the race.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

More downhill training but also be sure to do uphill work as well. Quad strengthening is also crucial to not getting as beat up after the race. And don’t be discouraged if the first few miles are slower than your goal pace — they are mainly uphill and will be more than made up on the downhill miles.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The first 4 miles are more of a net uphill, with the largest climb coming in mile 4. Don’t focus on your pace as you will make it up on the downhill portion of the race. Miles 5-10 were all downhill. There were a few flat parts here and there but it was mostly a very steady downhill. I was thankful that part of this was gravel to cushion the impact a bit more than concrete. There is one last climb during mile 11, which you will feel, but the race finishes with a significant downhill on mile 12 and then the last half mile is into town where the crowd it to cheer you on.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Gorgeous course!!! Very beautiful scenery throughout the entire course. You run through forested area and lots of trees for most of it. There are great views at the start and even a man-made geyser in the middle.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It is a fast course for sure but the fact it is mainly downhill can be difficult if you are not prepared for it. The start is slightly challenging with the hills but the downhill part more than makes up for that.

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

Very organized. Shuttle service and bag drop-off was very organized with not hitches. Pre-race communication was also on point.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

It is a smaller race and not ultra competitive but there are some quick times every year. A lot of people run it to aim for a PR.

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.

It’s in a rural area so no significant logistics. It starts at a conference center so you can stay right at the start line if you would like.

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

Aid stations about every two miles. Water at all the stations, with Gatorade and pretzels at the ones later in the race.

Weather and typical race conditions

Can be humid but it is at a higher elevation and starts before the sun warms everything up. Temp generally in the 60’s. Mostly tree-covered so that makes a huge difference if it’s a sunny day.

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

Nothing special needed. Aid stations were great as far as water is concerned.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Finish line is great for spectators. Most of it is on pretty rural/backwoods roads so there are not many places to watch except for the finish. But the finish is downtown Old Fort so it is very easy to cheer your runner on and give them an end of the race boost.

How’s the Swag?

Swag was ok. The shirts ran very big and weren’t amazing. They did offer a 13.1 sticker specific to the race, which was a nice add-on.

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

9/10. I would highly recommend it and would do it again!

Carrie Neiman is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with, check out her coaching page.

Neuse River Bridge Run Race Report – Cassie Nevins

Race: Neuse River Bridge Run

Runner: Coach Cassie Nevins

Race Date: 04/09/2022

Location: New Bern, NC

Results: 02:59:11

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

  1. The race has staggered start times for the different events, which include 13.1, 10K, and 5K.
  2. The race starts with a climb over the bridge, which is about 180 feet of straight climbing. I preferred the climb in the beginning of the race rather than the finish.
  3. The race is scheduled at a time of year in North Carolina, where it is not too hot or too cold. The temperature could not have been better for race day, about 55 degrees.

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

  1. The aid stations lacked typical items that you would see- gels, bananas, and electrolyte solution like gatorade. The only items at aid stations were water.
  2. The aid stations were sporadic, the first one was about five miles into the event and they were spread far apart after that.
  3. For the cost of the event, the items that were included (aid station items) and swag were basic.

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

The aid stations only had water.

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

Because of the staggered start for all three events, you constantly see other runners on the course. It was nice to see the competition and have other runners within eyesight.

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

I was glad that I used hill repeats in my training plan working up to this race. You will cross over the Neuse River bridge two times during the event which includes almost 200 ft both ways, in the beginning of the event.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

The latter part of the course is completely flat. I went out too hard in the beginning and I wish I would have saved some energy for the second half because it is a fast course to the finish line.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The course runs through historical parts of New Bern and there is a lot of change in scenery to keep you entertained. The time flies by and there is a lot of opportunity to see other runners/competition so that you do not get bored.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

The course is beautiful, taking runners through historic homes and neighborhoods. The half marathon starts right at sunrise so you get an excellent view of the sun coming up over the river as you cross the bridge two times.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

This course is great for someone who is looking for a PR. Other than the two bridge repeats, the course is completely flat and can be run fast.

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

This is the only downside to the event. For the cost of the event, roughly $75 with early registration, they could have contributed a little more to the aid station fare. The organizers failed to send out a pre-race email the week before the event, so make sure you save the initial email when you sign up or you may not remember key details for the event. This race takes place in a military town and they did not start with the National Anthem or even a welcome from the race director, which was unusual compared to other local events in this area. The race directors, did not send out a thank you or a race-recap to participants.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

This is a local community event, so most of the athletes are from the area. There were strong competitors with the local university having collegiate level runners participate in the event.

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.

The race takes place on the waterfront in New Bern, NC. There are several hotels within walking distance to the start line and the convention center, where the race headquarters are located.

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

The aid stations only included water, requiring runners to plan ahead for gels and electrolytes.

Weather and typical race conditions

The weather was perfect with low humidity and a high of 55 the morning of the event.

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

If you are a runner that needs electrolyte or would like to carry gels, you need to bring your own to this event as the aid station does not have anything besides water.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There are plenty of places for spectators to find their runners and even walk to different viewing points as the course winds through downtown New Bern.

How’s the Swag?

The swag was sub-par. The t-shirts are men’s cut only, so if you are a female or smaller individual the shirt will be baggy. The race does not give you the option to opt out of the t-shirt, so you get one automatically in the packet. The half marathon does come with a finisher’s medal, but it is small and a basic medal with a sticker on it.

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

I would give this race 3 out of 5 stars. It is a great race as a training event or a time trial for a bigger training plan which is what I used it for. If you are using this as a primary event, there are larger events in the Eastern NC region that are the same price range, but with better aid stations and swag.

Cassie Nevins is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, please check out her coaching page.

table rock ultra 50k

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: https://www.strava.com/activities/4083893953

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

Umstead Trail Marathon Race Report

Umstead Trail Marathon – Erin Hunt

Umstead Trail Marathon Race Report
Photo Credit: Clarke Babcock

Race: Umstead Trail Marathon

Runner: Erin Hunt

Race Date: 03/07/2020

Location: Umstead State Park-Raleigh, NC

Results: 3rd Place female-3:54:41

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/3163117112

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

  1. The low key, ultramarathon vibe
  2. Each year the mascot of the race is a different animal, and you don’t find out until the shirts are given out at packet pickup
  3. The race is cup-less and they do a great job of letting you know beforehand.

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

There were some speedster cyclists out on the course and a couple brought their horses on the bridal trails unaware of the event. It is a public park and this isn’t the race director’s fault at all, but it is a good reminder to read signs or check websites for event dates before going to a park. (Especially if you’re bringing HORSES!)

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

The parking is kind of weird. The start/finish is at the very back of the park, so there isn’t a lot ready to hold a bunch of cars. They will spread you out and some people can end up parking a half mile from the start. You should plan on arriving early to avoid this, but you can’t arrive too early because the park doesn’t open until 7. Be strategic about when you get there and carpool if possible.

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

I had a really great day. I used to live right by this park and have done the race before, so I knew what to expect. The beginning 8 miles or so include a good deal of single track, and from then on you are mostly on hilly fire roads. The single track is interjected with fire road every couple of miles, so if you want to pass someone, you have a little bit of time to do that on wider trail before hopping back on single track. Knowing this, and also knowing that the toughest parts were at the beginning, I held back and kept a comfortable pace while others burned themselves out on the tough, technical beginning.
Once we were done with the single track and cruising on the fire road section, I started to inch my way towards the front. Again, knowing the park so well I could anticipate climbs and prepare for them. I moved up to 3rd place at around mile 22, and gave it my all on the last big climb.

This race is in the same park as my upcoming 100 miler, so the main goal of this was to gain confidence leading into the 100 and spend some time on these specific trails. I got 10th here last year, so I did also want to at least remain in the top ten and hopefully move up to a podium finish. I ended up knocking 30 minutes off of last years time, feeling great throughout the day, and reaching all of my goals.

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

Hold back! It’s easy to push too hard on the single track, but you have a lot of hard climbs coming. Save some energy for those.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Relax and run your own race and good things will happen.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

You get about 2400 ft of gain, and that comes from steep hills rather than slow rolling. It’s important to train both up and downhill running for this race. The downhills are very fun to bomb down, but if you haven’t practiced that you could risk pulling a muscle or taking a tumble.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes! You’re in the woods the entire time.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Mid-level difficulty for a trail marathon. Hills obviously, and the single track is somewhat technical, but it’s 100% runnable.

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

Very well organized. However, it does have that ultramarathon vibe, so don’t expect a big shiny medal and a huge finish line.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

There were strong runners from various track clubs and racing teams in the area. They post who is running as people sign up, so you can get a good idea of who is showing up if you want to.

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.

Nope! It may fill up because they do have to limit the amount of runners, but you don’t have to sign up the minute registration opens.

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

Cupless, so wear a hydration pack or carry a bottle. They are pretty frequent for a trail race. Gatorade and Honey Stinger were available at each one, and I think they had some other “real food” snacks as well.

Weather and typical race conditions

It was in the low 40s at the beginning of the race and got up to the mid 50s I think. Perfect weather for the past two years. It gets pretty sunny on some sides of the park, so don’t forget your sunscreen.

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

Just something to put your liquid in, and the park really appreciates it when you have a carpool buddy.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

If they come with you and stay the whole time, then yes. If they just want to jump on the course and cheer, they’ll have to know the park well enough to put their car at a different entrance or bike in and find you. Once your car is in a parking spot by the start/finish, you can’t move it until the runners are well on their way.

How’s the Swag?

I really enjoyed it. You get a tech t-shirt with the mascot animal of the year on it. You also get some goodies from local brands, a foldable reusable cup in case you forgot your hydration pack, and socks. They don’t do medals, instead you get a logoed pint glass of water handed to you when you finish. Top 15 finishers get a wooden carving of the mascot animal. Last but not least, when you cross the finish line you are handed a number. They do a raffle inside, so you take your number in and see if you won anything.

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

10/10 would recommend!

Erin Hunt is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with Coach Erin, check out her coaching page.

Umstead Trail Marathon Race Report
Photo Credit: Clarke Babcock

hullabaloo 50k race report

Hullabaloo 50k Race Report – Matt A

Race: Hullabaloo 50k

Runner: Matt A

Race Date: 11/15/2019

Location: Penrose, NC

Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=67410

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2867084852/overview

hullabaloo 50k race report

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

* Fantastic crowd
* Fantastic course – location, set up, marking, variety
* Fantastic racing group

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

Only my own mistakes!

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

* Not really anything – there is a really steep (17%+ grade) road uphill section on the back half of the course called Curse Word Hill but that doesn’t really qualify as weird…
* And the crowd was weird but in a good way

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

* My fitness was very good – first ultra, first coached event, couldn’t be more pleased with how often I realized how I had been trained for a situation – huge confidence booster.
* Specifically, felt like I could run forever – on the flats. Felt strong in the latter 20’s which was surprising and fun.
* Adapted to some adversity well – again, I credit my coaching and training for preparing me for unexpected scenarios.

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

* While not overly technical, the downhills still played hell with my ankles – you can’t fake trail experience and my lack impacted me quickly.
* Generally, felt a little chillier than usual based on temp – this could be because it’s so dry, or breezy or just what happens on this long a run (with a nutrition error mid-race) – regardless, I was wearing gloves in high 40’s weather for the last 10 miles which is a lot warmer than I usually wear gloves.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

* Listen to your coach when they say, take the aid stations slowly – this was a triple loop and after the first loop, feeling good, I forgot to load up on my Huma gels and ended up having to use aid station gels that did not agree with me or go down as easy on the second loop – seriously impacted my enjoyment and performance in the race.
* Don’t strip down layers too quickly – I got overly aggressive after the first lap and was a bit chilly on lap 2 – nothing serious but another ding in my confidence.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

* It’s a triple loop – exactly the same three times – I think that was pretty helpful.
* About half is single track, heavy leaf cover, some rocks and roots but not a ton – I was more impacted by misreading the distance to the ground and landing hard than by tripping. Other half is some road and some rocky dirt road.
* Almost the entire course is wooded so less weather impact.
* Frequent, well stocked, encouraging aid stations.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Beautiful, mountains and hills of North Carolina during leaf changing season.

hullabaloo 50k race report

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It’s my first so I have no perspective but it was almost 5,000 feet of vert which seems medium for these parts.

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

Machine – these people had it down and the people at aid stations, etc. were deeply experienced. At one aid station, one of the people was a multi-time winner of the on-foot version of the Iditarod.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Top finisher completed the course in a little over half my time. Seemed to drop off a bit after that. I finished 27 out of 43 finishers and 47 starters.

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.

No, very easy – stayed at an AirBnB less than a mile away for under $100.

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

* Clearly stocked by experienced ultra folks – tons of Tailwind and Honey Stinger products, jellies, crackers, chips, etc.
* Staff was all over it – filling bottles, advising, encouraging – and with costumes, wigs, tunes – just a big ol’ positivity squad!

Weather and typical race conditions

Started in low 30’s, ended around 50 and then got cold fast again. Threat of rain that never came. Fog. Typical for North Carolina in Autumn.

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

I overdid it a bit on gear – you were never more than 4 miles from an aid station. Could easily have dropped the vest and done it with hands free or near free.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

At the start (which you go through twice and finish at), there is a bluegrass concert, with oven baked pizza, vegetarian burgers and lots of beer (it’s owned by Oskar Blues brewery). So that’s a yes!

How’s the Swag?

See the pic – stylin’

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

5 stars (from a first timer)

hullabaloo 50k race report

hullabaloo 50k race report

hullabaloo 50k race report

cannonball half marathon race report

Cannonball HM Race Report – Eric P

Race: Cannonball Half Marathon

Runner: Eric P

Race Date: 10/12/2019

Location: Greensboro, NC

Results: 1:28:47, 7th overall, 2nd in age group

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2782753221

cannonball half marathon race report

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

The course was great with a good mix of flats and hills and beautiful scenery of some parks, greenways, and a few open roads. I was most impressed by the post-race festivities. This was a small race, but there was an amazing band playing, lots of great food, and 5 different breweries. We got 2 beer tickets with our bib! For me personally, I probably loved my result the most! This was a 2 minute PR for me and I wasn’t even expecting or aiming for that. This was a tuneup race and fitness test for the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon, so I am excited for what is ahead. I also got to meet running legend Jeff Galloway!

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

I’m not sure why this race is called the Cannonball Marathon. Someone asked me and I still can’t figure it out.

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

My pacing in this race was excellent. My 5k splits were 21:24, 21:22, 21:15, and 21:07 before the finish. I maintained a steady pace and even ran a negative split. My last two miles were the fastest! My goal was to run marathon pace for the first 8-10 miles and then pick it up. I kept looking down at my watch and I was running faster than expected. So I kept trying to dial it back and keep it under control. In the last 3 miles there were a lot of hills and I picked up the pace so I was really ramping up the effort there. Once I realized I might be able to break 1:30, I really pushed hard and I was super stoked to see this result. Thanks to my coach Maxx Antush for getting me to this point.

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

Stay patient and in control for at least the first half of the race.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Medium, a few hills but nothing crazy.

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

Yes, very organized.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

No, the field was pretty small so if you are are fast you will likely be running alone.

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

Perfectly spaced.

How’s the Swag?

Pretty great, the medal was cool and we got a long sleeve technical T-shirt as well.

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

8/10

south mountains marathons

South Mountains Marathons 50k Race Report – Jeremy L

Race: South Mountains Marathons (50k)

Runner: Jeremy Lynch

Race Date: 01/12/2019

Location: South Mountains State Park, Connelly Spring, NC

Results: 5h:32m (7th Overall)

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

  1. The views from the top
  2. Low key, laid back vibe
  3. Aid Station Mile 21

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

The finishers’ prize was arm sleeves which I don’t wear (I gave mine to my wife).

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

The excessive warnings about horses on the trails.

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

Cut 12 min. off fastest 50k time even with an additional 3,000 feet of climbing.

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

The climbing is serious… there is no such thing as flat. You’re either hiking up steep hills or running down some sweet single track.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Just when you think you’ve put in enough time on the hills and in the weight room working quads… you haven’t.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Apparently you have to watch out for horses (I didn’t see any).

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Mountains in NC, so yes. Plus, you run past a nice waterfall even though you have to climb some serious steps to get to the top of it.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Yes… especially if you live in an area without mountains (like me).

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

Definitely a well-oiled machine even though this was the first time they’ve held the 50k (3 previous years of 26.2 and 13.1). I really like the low key vibe. It was like showing up and running with a group of friends (and the chili after the race was fantastic).

Competition – Is there a strong field?

The guy who won finished in 4h:24min. I never saw him other than at the starting line (I think he ate and was at home showering before I finished).

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.

The event is held in a state park so camping is always an option but other than that you have to drive (oh and no alcohol allowed in the park so you have to pack your own cooler).

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

Standard fare except for the aid station at mile 21… they had fresh pancakes and bacon!

Weather and typical race conditions

Cold and wet… expect snow and ice and everything sometimes not so nice.

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

Shoes with good traction and a nice strong toe protector because the downhills were fast and rocky.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

If they can hike.

How’s the Swag?

T-shirt at registration was sweet. Arm sleeves for finishing just aren’t my thing.

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

8/10… and yes I highly recommend this event. Looking forward to some of their other events in 2019.

south mountains marathons

quest for the crest race report

Quest for the Crest 50k Race Report – Ryan E

quest for the crest race report
Photo: Halley Burleson of Appalachian Exposures

Race: Quest for the Crest 50K

Runner: Ryan E

Race Date: 05/19/2018

Location: Burnsville, North Carolina

Results: http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=48099#id862376

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

  1. The technical and challenging trails — If you love technical trails, rope-assisted climbs, four-holds type of climbs, technical ascents and descents, roots and rocks, then this is the race for you!
  2. The views — There are only 3 climbs to this course, but every summit is worth it! You get a full view of the Black Mountains and you get to summit Mt Mitchell, which is the highest peak east of the Mississippi.
  3. The local and grassroots feel to the race.

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

NONE!! This is a race I would encourage everyone to do.

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

None I can think of.

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

I finished 10:15, my slowest 50K, but that time is very gratifying for me considering the course. I ran without a watch so I was able to run my race by effort and I thought that it served me well. I was happy that I was able to run well on the more runnable sections and caught up with people who passed me on the climbs. My pacing of the race was as good as it can get.

Quest for the crest race report
Photo: Halley Burleson of Appalachian Exposures

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

If you think you’re already taking it easy and conservatively early on the race, think a bit harder, maybe you just have too much adrenaline and excitement that you don’t realize you’re actually pushing it a little bit too hard and that will catch up to you later in the race.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Bring enough calories and water for a longer jaunt in the woods than you would normally do on a typical 50K. Just for reference, the winning time of this 50K is 7:02 and only top 3 made it under 8 hrs. The cutoff for this 50K is 14.5 hrs and runners have to work very hard to make it under this time.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The first climb is the hardest, second climb is the easiest and third climb is the longest. Pace yourself accordingly. You do not make up lost time on the climbs by bombing the downhills. The descents are just as technical as the climbs, so just go steady. Once you reach the summit of Mt Mitchell, it’s all generally downhill from there to the finish. Also, all runners are required to bring a water filter because to make sure no one runs out of water as people tend to underestimate the course and usually run out of water. Since there are springs along the course, they are marked so runners know where to fill up water in the middle of the race.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Definitely the most beautiful 50K I have ever done!

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Definitely the hardest 50K course I have ever done!

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

The RD and people behind this race has everything figured out. It’s a well marked course and organized race.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Yes, there’s a good showing of top local elites of the east coast.

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.

The closest accommodation to the race is camping, so if you are out of luck, the closest hotels and airbnbs are probably 45mins-1 hr away. I stayed in an airbnb and it wasn’t a bad drive, so it was ok. But just know that this course is in the middle of nowhere and camping is the closest option.

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

Standard Aid Station fare. Some AS are basic because they have to hike it to the top of the mountain, so they advise runners that certain AS are limited on supply and water. There’s bacon, home-made rice crispy treats, cookies, gels, fruits, potatoes, soda and energy drinks, etc. There’s barbecue and beer at the finish.

Weather and typical race conditions

Last year, it was hot and humid. This year, the weather was overcast with some rain. It had been raining on days preceding the race, so the trails have been swelling with water and some spots of standing water. The summit of Mt Mitchell is fair game to all, so everyone should always brace for colder temps and possibly ice. It only rained and got colder this year at the summit

Quest for the crest race report
Photo: Halley Burleson of Appalachian Exposures

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

Mandatory gear were charcoal filter and headlamp with spare battery. I would add a weatherproof jacket/shell on that list. All those would be critical gear for this course.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Due to the remoteness of the course, crew are only allowed on start and finish areas. Once you’re out there, your friends have no way of seeing you along the course, and it is for good reason. It is all for the safety of the runners and race.

How’s the Swag?

We get a shirt, pint glass, and wood engraved medal.

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

10 out of 10!!!

Training for your first ultra? Check out our 7 steps to get started!

quest for the crest race report
Photo: Halley Burleson of Appalachian Exposures

umstead 100 race report

Umstead 100 Race Report – Matt Urbanski

umstead 100 race report
Bringing out the tight clothes for the rain and minimum chaffage

Race: Umstead 100

Runner: Matt Urbanski

Date: 4/07/2018

Location: Raleigh, NC

Results: 3rd OA, 15:26

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1496682914

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

  1. The course is runnable. Literally every step of the course can be run. There are some hills that are steep that many will want to walk, but the course has no technical parts and is generally smooth for running the entire time. Awesome.
  2. Competitive. Two guys ran near 14 hours flat. Wow!
  3. Weather. It was cool and rainy for the run. Doesn’t sound like good running weather, but for going all day long, not dealing with heat issues was a blessing.

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

There isn’t anything I can think of to complain about with this one, other than how beat up I felt by the end of the race. But that’s not the race’s fault, that’s my fault for not preparing better! 🙂

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

There was aid available every 2.5 miles or less. I’ve never had an ultra with that much aid. It’s a weird thing, though very positive. Some of the stations were un-manned water stops, but it made it really easy to plan and to not have to carry much.

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

  • I kept running the entire race. Other than to stop at aid stations to get more fueling, I ran every step of this race. This is a big deal to me b/c I got beat down significantly over the final 30 miles. Looking back, I didn’t have enough longer races (marathons and 50ks) as part of my build up and my legs just weren’t ready for the distance. My muscles were shot and it was a grind to the finish. Even though I slowed (last lap got really slow!), I kept running the entire time and I am really proud of that.
  • I am also really proud of my mental game and self talk that got me through this one. I repeated to myself hundreds of times, “Suffering is optional”. I acknowledged the pains I was experiencing, but I focused on continuing to smile, continuing to focus, and continuing to do my best all the way to the finish. I could have gotten really down and lost it out there, but my focus on not suffering and continuing to put forth the best with what I had was a super hard effort, but very rewarding looking back on the challenge.
  • My family was all out there. Julie and Paavo were my cheer squad, my parents were both there from Ohio to help, my sister was running and her family was there to help – thanks Austin (nephew) for the crew help!, and brother bear Jeff was the crew chief and pacer extraordinaire, helping me navigate the challenges of the hundo. He paced me the final 37.5 miles, ran the show at the aid station – he knows what I need and my racing style at this point such that we function as a truly fine team, and he solved problems for me when shit was getting rough during the final lap. Thanks family!

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

  • It’s so easy to run fast early. You will almost, without a doubt slow down as the race progresses. Manage your day well given that this course is so runnable.
  • The weather can be varied for NC this time of year. It was warmer in 2017 but cooler and rainy in 2018. Be prepared and have strategies for dealing with whatever nature throws your way.
  • The pollen can be really really bad here in April. Both years I was here, the pollen was so bad that I couldn’t wear my old school hard contact lens. They collected so much gunk that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Thankfully on race day, all the rain knocked the pollen down so I was able to race with my contacts, instead of glasses.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Do more long races to have my legs ready for this much running. With minimal to no hiking “breaks”, this course can really beat up specific muscle groups. If I ever race this one again, I will be better trained so I can run those last few loops better.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The second half of the 12.5 mile loop is hillier than the first. There is an aid station at 6.8 miles into the loop. Almost immediately after leaving that aid station, the course gets hillier. The hills are short and sometimes steep. If you race mountain races they won’t seem like a big deal. If you always run flat, these hills will be a real challenge. By lap 5 or 6, they become a challenge for everyone! Know that these hills are there, your splits the first half of each loop will likely be faster than the second half.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

I think it’s a pretty course. It’s a wooded park, the paths are wide, it’s spring time. It’s not UTMB so don’t go in expecting breathtaking views, but it’s pleasant forest run.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It’s 100 miles, so yes. However, there is nothing to trip over – the course is super smooth. There is 80’/mile of vertical gain on average so that can become challenging, especially as the race progresses. But from the traditional viewpoint of “tough courses”, this is a relatively easier course.

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

They run a really good race. Friendly environment, easy packet pickup, easy race day logistics. This was the case even for it being a crappy, rainy spring day.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Yeah! Men’s race had 4 guys under 16 hours.

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.

  • You have to be on it for registration. By that, I mean that you have to be at your computer hitting “Register” the minute it opens. It sells out immediately. They do reserve some spots for runners with faster PRs to make the race more competitive.
  • Hotels are plentiful so lodging is easy, and they’re close to the race course.
  • The course is close to the RDU airport. Super simple. We rented a car which made things easy for getting around the area too.

Aid Stations

Lots. I didn’t utilize any of them, with one exception, so I don’t know much about what they had, but everyone was friendly! On my final lap, I was freezing my ass off and my brother managed to get me a fleece jacket and a garbage bag for dealing with the cold and sleet. That aid station magic worked wonders for my core temps as I shuffled to the finish. Thank you!

Weather and typical race conditions

Rain. Heat. Perfect. Who knows? Spring in NC; rolling the dice!

umstead 100 race report
Pre-race with sister Emily, who did her first ultra, the 50 miler

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

  • I love the loops here and the frequent aid. I was able to go super minimal with this one. I used the Nathan Krar Vapor waistbelt. I carried one Salomon soft flask, at only 1/2 to 2/3rds full from each of the two main aid stations. I ate Gu, Huma gels, and blocks, along with a few other random snacks from my crew.
  • I wore Salomon short tights with the waist pockets and my compression shirt. My rain jacket was helpful as the day progressed and it got colder in the rain. (UD rain jacket)

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

  • The course is open so people could theoretically be anywhere on the course. My family was there and stationed up at the Start/Finish. Seeing them every couple hours was great and made logistics really easy.
  • There is an out and back section on the course, people getting lapped, and another section with some overlap of runners. All this means you have nearly constant support from your fellow ultra runners. Very cool and motivating! There was a ton of positive support out there.

How’s the Swag?

  • Buckle at the finish for 100 milers. Short sleeve tech shirt (or a hat, you get to choose during registration), and a pair of socks.
  • Standard stuff.

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

5 out of 5. Know what you’re getting into with a runnable 12.5 mile loop in the forest on well maintained multi-use gravel trails, be ready for any weather, and then enjoy the hell out of this well run, fast and competitive race!

umstead 100 race report
Getting it done with brother bear Jeff. Photo: Anthony Corriveau

umstead 50 race report

Umstead 50 Race Report – Emily M

Race: Umstead 50

Runner: Emily M

Date: 04/07/2018

Location: Raleigh, NC

Results: 12:32:42

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

  1. It was a 12.5mi looped course
  2. The volunteers were outstanding!
  3. Mainly gravel path

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

There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this race. The weather wasn’t the greatest (rained the entire time and got pretty cold), but that’s my type of weather compared to heat!

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

I’ve never done an ultra before so it was all kind of weird to me! But in a good way! I couldn’t get over the guys wearing sandals or no shirts in that type of weather, though

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

I went in knowing it would be a mental game. Physically I thought I could gut it out but I have a tendency to get into my own head. I’d only done marathon distance before and not much access to hills, so I knew it’d be a challenge. I took the first loop a little faster and just tried to make mental notes. I broke it down into sections and tried to go a little faster in the first half, knowing the steeper hills were in the last section. Everyone out there was amazing! I met so many new people, both runners and volunteers, and having my family there to crew just topped it off! I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about having my brother out there lapping me, but it turned out to be just what I needed to keep me going. Most of all, I just smiled and embraced the experience. Once I hit that 3rd lap, I was closing in on “ultra status” and there was no way I was not going to finish!

umstead 50 race report

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

Be prepared for any type of weather! April in NC is unpredictable! They said this was the worst weather conditions in 24 years. We drove so I brought pretty much anything I could possibly need, which helped because I started in a running skirt and long sleeves but had to change clothes and bundle up for the 4th lap.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I’ve never done an ultra so I learned a lot in general. My fueling was completely different than a road marathon. I learned how to prioritize my belongings so my crew could access them quickly. Best of all, I learned to stop doubting myself and to just enjoy the race. I was so happy and calm, I enjoyed my surroundings and just took it all in.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The first 6.85 miles are hilly but not nearly as steep as the last half. The aid stations are well stocked! The volunteers were ready every time I came in so it was almost like I didn’t have to think. The gravel path is great! Sections were a little muddy towards the end but not technical at all. Great race for a first-time ultra!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

I thought so

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

For me it was tough because of the hills…about 1,000 ft gain per lap….so for this Delaware girl, that was a lot! Otherwise it wasn’t difficult

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

Absolutely well-oiled machine

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I’m not on the fast side so I’m not sure, but I know there were a few!!

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.

You have to be on your computer ready to hit submit on the specific date and time they give you. I got in right away but it sells out within minutes. We stayed at the Embassy Suites which is affiliated with the race. Great rooms, awesome staff, 5 minutes from the park, and great price! They even left a goody bag in the rooms for the runners which was a nice touch. Very close to the airport (has a shuttle to the hotel) but we drove. The race price was a little expensive but totally worth it for the experience that I had.

Aid Stations

Plenty! Full aid at the start/finish, AS2 (full) at 6.85 miles, one unmanned station with water and goodies, and then at least 1-2 more unmanned with water

Weather and typical race conditions

Rain, rain, and more rain! Started in the low 50’s and dropped into the 30’s overnight with snow flurries. That’s not the typical weather from what I understand though. Usually 60-70 degrees.

umstead 50 race report

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

Bring extra clothes for weather but otherwise I had my hydration vest and other normal gear. Nothing major.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

They can see you at the start/finish but have to drive to AS2 if they want to see you. My family stayed in the same spot.

How’s the Swag?

I got a hat with my name embroidered, socks, and a few random things. You could opt for the hat or shirt. Belt buckle for 100 finishers and acrylic triangle (special ordered, extra cost) for 50 finishers.

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

5 Stars all the way! Perfect first ultra experience!

umstead 50 race report

Umstead 100 Race Reports and Info

Summary: A good race for first-timers or those looking for a faster time, the Umstead 100 Ultra is a 100 mile endurance run through the William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh, NC. The course is along a running, biking, and horse trail and the width varies between 8 and 15 feet and the footing is excellent. There is no single track trail on the course. There’s also a 50 mile option, which runs 4 of the 12.5 mile “loops”, whereas the 100 mile race runs 8 loops. Both races happen simultaneously.

Race Details

  1. The course is essentially a 12.5-mile lap in Umstead Park that you repeat eight times to reach 100 miles and 4 times to reach 50 miles. In that 12.5 mile lap, there are two spurs and then one bigger loop from miles 3.5-10.5, giving runners a chance to see those ahead and behind them for some of the spur miles.
  2. The entire course is very runnable. On the vehicle access road portion of the course leading into Camp Lapihio/Race Headquarters (.4 mile), there is larger crushed gravel that is typical for automotive traffic.
  3. The course is rolling hills with a total of 8,000 feet of climb over the 100 miles (1,000 feet per loop). The entire course is runnable with nicely spaced hills.

Lessons Learned from Race Reports

  • Don’t start out too fast
  • Pacers are definitely helpful, and helpful to switch out at each lap
  • Lap by lap goals are good
  • While crew isn’t necessary, it’s certainly helpful, especially for a mental boost each lap
  • The course warms up quickly if it’s a sunny day, as a lot of it is exposed, so enjoy that first cooler lap and be ready to deal with the heat through laps 2-4, at the least.
  • Being a lap course, this is a big mental challenge as much as physical
  • The park is open to other users, so be aware of other users like runners, walkers, and cyclists while on course

Elevation

Total gain/loss: 8,000/8,000ft (4,000/4,000 for the 50), which equates to 1,000 feet of gain per lap

Total climbs: Lots of rollers of 50-150 feet

Link to Course Profile: http://www.umstead100.org/profile.html

Link to Course Map: http://www.umstead100.org/course.html#lap

Aid stations

Total aid stations: 6 (2 Full Aid and 7 Water) per loop

Furthest distance apart: ~2 miles

Locations: miles 0 (which is also 12.5, the start/finish) 0.6, 2.1, 3.4, 5.6, 7 (Full), 8.7, 10.6, 11.9, and 12.5 (Full).

What’s available: Typical full aid station fare at start finish and mile 7 of each lap. Water only at all others. The 3.4/10.6 mile point, Water Point #1, will also have Gatorade and a food box with a limited number of items such as cookies, trail mix, candy bars and pretzels.

Crew access

Crew instructions/directions: Only allowed at Start/Finish (mile 12.5 of each loop)

Drop bags: Drop bags allowed at the Start/Finish and AS#2.

Pacers

One crew member at a time is allowed on the course to pace their runner either after 6 pm, Saturday, or at the start of lap 5, if started earlier than 6pm, or as expressly permitted by the Race Director or Aid Station Captain.

Race reports

Umstead Trail Marathon Race Report

Umstead Trail Marathon – Erin Hunt

Race: Umstead Trail Marathon Runner: Erin Hunt Race Date: 03/07/2020 Location: Umstead State Park-Raleigh, NC Results: 3rd Place female-3:54:41 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/3163117112 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? The low key, ultramarathon vibe Each year the mascot of the race is a ...
umstead 100 race report

Umstead 100 Race Report – Matt Urbanski

Race: Umstead 100 Runner: Matt Urbanski Date: 4/07/2018 Location: Raleigh, NC Results: 3rd OA, 15:26 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1496682914 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? The course is runnable. Literally every step of the course can be run. There are some hills that are ...
umstead 50 race report

Umstead 50 Race Report – Emily M

Race: Umstead 50 Runner: Emily M Date: 04/07/2018 Location: Raleigh, NC Results: 12:32:42 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? It was a 12.5mi looped course The volunteers were outstanding! Mainly gravel path Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for ...
jeff urbanski umstead 100

Umstead 100 – Jeff U

Race: Umstead 100 Runner: Jeff U Date: 4/1/17 Location: Raleigh, NC Results - 18:33:00, 8th place 3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most I loved how the course was super smooth and easily runable. It was all wide clean trail with no technical sections, ...

Strava activities and GPX files

https://www.strava.com/activities/856153349

https://www.strava.com/activities/170150886

Course Pictures

https://plus.google.com/photos/113178421254708971483/albums/5097990144019112225?banner=pwa

Race Website

http://www.umstead100.org/

jeff urbanski umstead 100

Umstead 100 – Jeff U

Race: Umstead 100

Runner: Jeff U

Date: 4/1/17

Location: Raleigh, NC

Results18:33:00, 8th place

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most

I loved how the course was super smooth and easily runable. It was all wide clean trail with no technical sections, making for a comfortable run throughout the day and night. Due to the nature of the trail, night running was really no more challenging than day running.

Love them or hate them, I loved the lap nature of this course. The race was eight, 12.5 mile laps. The thought of seeing my brother and nephew after the first lap (and every lap after that), my wife and daughter after the fourth as well as both of my parents every 12.5 miles was pretty amazing. This enabled additional family and friends in the area to stop out for a lap or two to experience the race without too much of an investment. I always had something to look forward to as I worked my way through the laps which made this race that much more fun.

The aid stations were stocked. I only eat a few specific things during races, but they had those and far more. At no point did I see any kind of shortage of anything at the aid stations or the water stations. On top of that, I came to find out that the start/finish line aid station/area prepared all kinds of food for crew members in the area. My family was able to enjoy spaghetti, meatball sandwiches and more without having to leave the park in search of restaurants.

 

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

There really wasn’t anything about this race that I didn’t care for.

 

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race

I saw a lot of body types out there that weren’t typical for an ultra. It was super impressive seeing the young, old, big and small out there.

 

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

I was able to maintain a steady pace throughout the entire race. No matter how excited (or sad) I got during a lap, I was able to keep the big picture in mind and keep it all together. I was also really happy that I was able to maintain a consistent level of hurt from 25 through 75. I had no watch for miles 37.5 – 62.5, and I really think that time away from my watch and splits really helped me focus on just running a comfortable pace.

 

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

Try not to get too excited right out of the gate. It is eight laps, and there are plenty of opportunities to see those ahead of you. People go out fast, and a lot of them will likely come back to you if you are able to maintain.

 

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

The mind is a strong thing. I planned on phoning it in on the last lap since I was well ahead of my stretch goal, but with an encouraging idea from my pacer, Coach Matt, I was able to grind through the last lap and get it done faster than imaginable. I’m interested to see what else I may be able to do in future races with the proper mindset.

 

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It only has 8,000 feet of gain (1,000/lap), so it’s very runable. The second half of the loop has a few short and steep climbs, otherwise, it’s smooth sailing with a few long ups and a few long downs.

 

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

The course was pretty for a lap course. It runs through a regional park in NC, so there is nice tree cover and a lake or two to keep your attention.

Difficulty – is it a tough course

I’m not sure there is an easier course out there.

 

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

This race was super impressive. There isn’t a single thing I can think of that could’ve been better. The aid stations were constantly stocked, food was available for crew members, and everything was well communicated. This race was very well done.

 

Competition – is there a strong field?

The winner was low 14’s, but there weren’t any/many elites. While there were no true elites, it was a deep field with 60+ people under 24 hours.

 

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.

Registering for this race reminded me of trying to get student season tickets for UW football. It sold out in roughly 5 minutes, so you have to be at your computer ready to go right when registration opens. Aside from that, the course is right by the Raleigh Airport, so flight and lodging logistics are super easy.

 

Aid Stations

As mentioned above, the aid stations were fantastic. The volunteers were always ready to help refill my water, there was a plentiful supply of sweet and savory, and they never seemed to run out of anything. They had gels, S Caps, Stinger Waffles, Ibuprofen and anything else you would really need.

 

Weather and typical race conditions –

We got pretty lucky with the weather. I imagine it could get pretty hot and humid being in NC. It got up to mid-70s with a bit of humidity, but it wasn’t overly debilitating. It was a crisp cool morning and a comfortable temperature once it got dark. We very easily could’ve gotten stormed on or had other issues due to the location and time of year.

 

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

I didn’t need anything out of the ordinary for this race. I had a neck cooler for a lap and a half during the middle of the day, but that was about it. I rarely carry a handheld, but due to the plentiful and well stocked aid and water stations, I was able to go the handheld route for the first two laps (before my GU intake really got going). This saved my shoulders and core a few hours of work.

 

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends

Like most other loop courses, it’s easy for spectators who want to park out for the day and see their runner once a lap. There were not many opportunities for spectators in other areas of the loop, but there were a handful of people out there. That said, this is a vibrant regional park that is used by runners, walkers and cyclists from the area. There were people out and about all day, many of whom gave encouragement when passing. There was not a shortage people at any point throughout the day.

Awards –

You only get a buckle the first and 10th year running the race. I never got mine at the finish line, but they apologized and said they would mail one right away. I believe they also mail printed race photos in addition to showing them online. I’m looking forward to that nice little perk.

 

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

I would recommend this race to anyone. It’s definitely a 10.

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