Race: Trail Rail 50
Runner: Britt P
Race Date: 06/08/2019
Location: Mullan, ID to St. Regis, MT
Results: 11:07:58; 2nd in age group
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2434749918
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- The finishers “medal” and Patagonia Houdini jacket
- The scenery – LOVE Montana!
- The people – racers and volunteers alike were great.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
- The flatness of the course after about mile 20
- 13 miles of first size and below, unconsolidated gravel
- I did not love that the course was marked in 0.5 mile increments…I did not want to know until about the last 5 miles
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Explaining the awesome railroad spike finishers “medal” to TSA.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
This was my first 50 but I can honestly say I have no “if I would have only done this instead” moments. Everything went right. It was HARD but I had a solid year long training cycle (THANK YOU Coach Maxx!!!!!) build up after taking time off to move to Colorado and settle into a new job and that consistency really paid off. I was strong and ran well. My nutrition and hydration were spot on, I never felt low energy or close to bonking, never had GI issues. I really enjoyed passing people towards the end 🙂 I did not waste time in aid stations at all. Going into the race I was depleted, stressed and generally low and I took the day before the race to do some serious work to get into the right headspace. This paid off hugely during the race, I think my inner dialogue would have been completely different had I not had that time. Bottomline I just really enjoyed this race! I beat my goal of 12 hours by over 50 minutes so you can’t ask for much more.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Stay in St. Regis and take the bus to the start. The start is not necessarily easy to find (and some locals moved some of the signs) so take advantage of the cheap bus ticket and transport for a worry free race morning.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
For me a lot of the lessons learned were around aid stations being a first timer. I use my own gels and hydration and I definitely has some things I will do differently to save time. Like premixing my drink in Nalgene bottles so I can just pour.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The course elevation gain was about half of what I thought it would be looking at the mapmyrun profile pre-race. There is a lot of up till mile 10 then a lot of down till about 18 the a short up then it is FLAT. The up at the beginning is so gentle it is hardly up. And the down really helped my pace. Overall the surface is super easy, though around 34 to 48 or so there is a lot of unconsolidated rocks of various sizes – I was happy my ankles did as well as they did.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Yes. It is over Lookout Pass and along the Clark Fork River. The only drawback is that you are also running along the highway but for the most part it is kind of cool as you pass under it and are above and below it. There are only a couple places, that are short, where it is annoying. You get to go through 2 tunnels and over an old trestle which is awesome.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Very easy, great for first timer or those looking for a fast 50 along the abandoned Northern Pacific Railroad and Milwaukee Railroad rails converted to trails.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Yes, it was very well organized.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Since I am not a podium seeker by any means not sure. Top females finished in around 8 and top males around 7. The race is small but growing in popularity. This 50 had 71 runners registered, I think a few less ran and there were a couple DNFs.
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.
Super easy. Fly into Missoula, enjoy this awesome little town. Drive to St Regis the night before – note that restaurants and amenities are a little limited if you are picky – mostly burger joints. I had a room at the Super 8 with a fridge and brought food. There are at least 2 motels in town. I made my reservation a couple months in advance. Not sure they sold out. Buy the bus ticket and take the bus to the start. Finish is in town and about 0.5 miles from the hotel which is AWESOME. I heard the post-race food and beer was awesome though I never have an appetite so did not partake.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
There were 10, mostly 5 miles or so apart until the end when they are closer together. The volunteers were great, the offerings were fine. Nothing that really stuck out. Hammer usually sponsors the race so there are Hammer products as well.
Weather and typical race conditions
This year perfect! Upper 40s and drizzly in the early morning. Late morning cleared a bit and in the 50s. Mostly overcast with some sun towards the end and maybe hit low 60s. The week before though it was in the 80s! But I think the weather is usually pretty good. They had had a lot of rain but the course drains well which is nice.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Nope. Minimal gear, standard stuff.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
They hand out a map of aid stations and I think friends could get to most of them – though not all. But beyond that no people, no spectators. You are out there on your own. Friends, including hand cyclists, could come and run their own distance – there is a 50 Mile, 50K, 30K, 12K, or 5K and 50 mile relay option.
How’s the Swag?
AWESOME!!!! Long sleeve cotton T for all and 50 mile finishers get a railroad spike with the race, date, and 50 mile finisher, and a Patagonia Houdini Jacket embroidered with the race info, 50 mile finisher and the trail logo on the back.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
4 stars (flat fast course and great for beginners)