Accomplished my second 50K run during this month. I can’t believe it had been just under 3 years since my last 50K. This was likely one of the best organized races I have ever participated in.
Here is the map (yes, it is hand drawn) from the official race website. That should give you an idea of how lowkey this event is.
They cap registration at around 200 folks (the race sells out super quick like within 30 minutes the day it opens) and I managed to get accepted into the race after I applied to be on the waitlist. I applied to be on the waitlist the day of the registration so I am not sure if that helped me be closer to the top of the list.
As far as preparation for the 50K, I completed the 26.2 miles on the roads in early December (my solo run since St. Jude was cancelled). The weeks leading up to Jan 19, I did the following:
My friend Beth took me out to Shelby Forest for a 16 mile run (25K course for Swampstomper),
we did another 16 mile run (same course),
we did the Herb Parsons Trail marathon,
we did a 9 mile trail run.
I was glad I had these prep runs before taking on the 50K as there are some ascents on this particular trail that make me feel like I have to pick my leg up with my arms and lift it up onto the step I need to take. The notorious red loop is often what you hear people talk about in this race.
I think when you get into these longer trail runs, for me at least, I focus on the aid stops/stations not mile markers (as there are no mile markers). Aid is provided at miles: 3.0, 4.7, 9.6, 13.3, 16.3 (25K finish), 19.3, 21.0, 25.9, 29.6 32.6 (50K finish)
You probably noticed that this race is 32.6 miles (so actually a bit longer than 50K). I know everyone talks about potatoes with salt when it comes to ultra running so I definitely had to try it this time.
We had gone in with a rough goal of finishing around 7:00 for the race. We started off super strong on the first loop. Note that the 50K course is basically the 25K course twice. We were tracking for well below a 7:00 pace during our first half (this had me concerned as I know my fitness level is not where it has been). I figured at some point I would start to blow up if I was not careful. I did not blow up but I started tripping a lot around mile 20 (still have the bruises on my left hip from one of the falls). One of the trips, I swear I felt myself fly 3 feet forward 🙂 I ended up running the last 12 miles or so on my own. I finished ironically at exactly 7:15:00! (my PR is around 6:55 from Sylamore). I was happy to finish and most importantly uninjured!
I really can’t think of any Cons for this race. The Pros were many.
– Super finish line food (they had a local food truck cater some hot food such as cheeseburgers, wraps and even vegetarian food). Top notch!
– Swag was nice for a small race (long sleeve tech tee, finishers’ medal, sticker).
– Volunteers and Race Director were super friendly and helpful. This is the first race I have ever been at where the volunteers actually took your water bottle and filled it up for you at the aid stations.
– The course is beautiful. You really feel like you are out in the woods and enjoying your surroundings without any noise pollution or actual trash scattered on the ground. (My personal favorite spot is the old Pioneer Springs which is a spring that comes up through the ground and bubbles to the top…sometimes there are tadpoles hanging out in the cement trough that holds this spring).
I would definitely recommend this 50K and would do it again.