Race: Umstead 100
Runner: Jeff U
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, 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.
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.
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.