Race: Three Days of Syllamo

Runner: Ashley Nordell

Race Date: 03/15/2019

Location: Ozarks of Arkansas (near Mountain View)

Results: 1st Overall, 15:28:41

3 days of syllamo race report
Photo: Chris Block

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

I go to this race almost every year for these reasons:

  1. The people- the same people come year after year, so it’s a bit of a reunion in Arkansas for me. I have become close friends with the RD and his family, so I’m always excited to see them.
  2. The location- Arkansas is a runners best kept secret in terms of trails. The race is on a network of trails up in north central Arkansas, part of the mountains/woods known as the Ozarks. I think the area is beautiful and the trails are so different than what we have out west.
  3. The format- It’s a three day stage race, which is hard to find. The courses often change year to year, but the distance is always a 50k then 50 miler then 20+k. Over three days you get over 90 miles of racing.

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

Traveling there is hard – we had nightmare flight issues this year, but even on a smooth travel day, it’s a long day of travel to get there.

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

The panty boys (an aid station). They always come dressed to impress (or not so dressed would be more accurate).

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

I would say keeping a good attitude even when it ended up taking us 24 hours to get there and missing an entire night sleep right before the race. I always look at this race as an experience, so it’s all part of the package. I didn’t let the travel issues become a factor in my enjoyment of the weekend.

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

This race is known for being low key. It’s a no frills, no whining mentality. People often get lost (minimal course marking), and those that take it too seriously might be frustrated. It’s not a big hype event. It’s about the experience and friendships.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Because of the time of year, it’s often my first time running on dirt or in warm temperatures for months. I often deal with stomach issues because I haven’t been training my body to eat and drink properly over the past few months due to our winter weather. I need to remember to do a few runs where I force myself to eat and hydrate so it’s not such a shock to the system each year.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Because the courses change each year, you can’t really study the course. It’s important to be aware while racing and really pay attention because it is easy to get lost. The courses are rocky and technical. There can be creek crossings, so having more that one pair of shoes for the weekend is helpful.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

I find it to be very beautiful. Lots of oak trees, rocky bluffs, some great views.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It is very technical by west coast standards. Lots of rocks covered by leaves. Definitely need good trail shoes. Rolling terrain. Not huge climbs, but lots of short climbs and descents.

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

This was the 15th year – they have it dialed in. But it’s done the same way now as back then. Old school no hype just the way I like it!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

It varies every year. It’s not really about the competition as much as the experience.

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 easy to register, but the closest airport is over 2 hours away (Little Rock), or 3 hours (Memphis), or 3.5 hours (Fayetteville). It’s in a remote area of Arkansas. You can camp or get a cabin in surrounding areas.

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

Standard fare – 4-9 miles apart.

Weather and typical race conditions

March in Arkansas can be anything – thunderstorms, heat, humidity, even sleet. Plan accordingly. We lucked out this year with low humidity, sunshine, and 50 degree temps.

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

I recommend multiple pairs of shoes (unless you are just doing one of the days). If you run the 50 miler you will need a headlamp for the first hour.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Depends on the course, but there are always aid stations that people can drive to. It’s also a very family and pet friendly event. The start/finish is at Blanchard Campground. There are caves nearby to visit with family.

How’s the Swag?

Socks and shirt. Hammer Nutrition is a sponsor, so Hammer products are available. Post race dinner on Friday and Saturday.

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

10/10. My favorite race!!!

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