lace_up's Need Shoe Advice! thread has persuaded me that's it's time to ask this question. Some brief background: been a track and road racer most of my life but turned to the dark side last year and ran my first ultra, the 12-hour race at NC 24 where I ran just under 50 miles. I liked it so much I ran another 12-hour race at Jackpot Ultra last month again running a little under 50 miles. Now I haven't yet run even one trail race - the first is coming up in May at the ICT 50K - but the idea of running a 100M has already insidiously inserted itself into my head and most of those seem to be trail races. While I don't expect anyone to be able to tell me whether I'm ready to run one, I would like some suggestions to consider for possible races that have liberal cutoff times and traditionally high completion rates. If it takes me 12 hours to run 50 miles, I expect I would be running up against a 30 hour cutoff time and a difficult course or high altitude would almost assuredly result in a DNF.
2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race
There are actually a few 100s that are either road, or crushed gravel you might want to consider:
Beast of Burden
There are others too, but these are ones off the top of my head. Go to http://www.run100s.com/ultra.htm for a pretty comprehensive list of 100s that includes finishing rates. They also include links to the race websites.
Upcoming races: 7/13 Light at the End of the Tunnel, 8/10 Angels Staircase 35K, 10/12 Victoria Marathon
My woefully neglected blog.
Omgosh! How exciting!
I had no idea that you were moving in this direction! I'm quite excited to hear about your journey. I think even with your experience, you'll be surprised at how different and IMO more enjoyable trail running is.
Running- the real sport. The others just play with their balls.
Faster Than Your Couch!
Run for fun.
Betsy has a good list.
Umstead is a 12.5 mile loop course all on crushed gravel (think very wide bike path and nor trail). It can get boring, but not too much elevation change. They have 30hr cut-off and will score yo down to a 100K if you drop back during the race. I think they need a previous 50 mile finish for entry, but would probably take a 12HR event.
Pine Creek Challenge is on a Rail Trail in Wellsboro, PA. I heard good things about their first race last year.
Some people hate multiple loop courses, but I like them, especially the longer loop ones (15-20 miles). A crew is not necessary (not that one is for a non-loop course), and you know what to expect after loop 1. However, the downside is that you come back to your car after every loop, which could increase the likelihood of dropping.
Follower of Forrest
3 Days at the Fair? At least it would be relatively close to home for you.
6/21 - Manitou's Revenge 54mi
A man may never run the same trail twice for it is not the same trail and he is not the same man
Check out the Indiana Trail 100 too.
I have created 2 course videos for it:
Version 1 - http://youtu.be/1sXrufzOX80
Version 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fPUx6sww5M&feature=share&list=UUe-2iqe00HXfojO2OAq4HRQ&index=14
It is 6 loops of 16.67 miles around the lakes of Chain 'O Lakes State Park, Albion Indiana - not too far from Ft. Wayne.
It is coming up in 6 weeks and I am trying again this year - not trying - finishing it!
Very well run event and a great one for a first timer.
George, if you enjoy your time on the trails at Ice Age this May, you can come back on those same trails for the Kettle Moraine 100 in 2015. You'd have crew and pacers all ready to go in me, Amanda, Badger, Robin, etc.
Rocky Raccoon would also be a great option, I think, as well as the others listed.
Huh, I have a blog?
Thanks for the suggestions so far. I'm not limited to any geographical area, but I am looking for one that gives me the best chance to complete it within the cutoff time. That means Long Haul (28 hours) and Iron Horse (26 hours) are probably out of the question. Pine Creek was already on my list. I think someone on Ultralist was looking for a comparison between Oil Creek and Pine Creek, which brought it to my attention. About the only other restriction I have is that it should be scheduled between mid-Jan and mid-Nov since the holiday season is our busy time at work (retail). By the time I decide whether I really want to run a 100M, the 50M prerequisite for Umstead should not be a problem. I have two 24-hour races on my schedule this year. Both my 12-hour races were on short loop courses, .9 and 2.381 miles, so loops in themselves are not an issue. I don't know yet whether it would be an issue for me if loops were 10 miles or more and committing to another loop mean another 2-3 hours or more. Now that the snow has mostly melted I should be able to get some trail running in. I have a few state parks and VF NP nearby with trails ranging from groomed to very technical. Jackpot and BLU are two others I'm also considering. I figure 2015 is the earliest I could possibly be ready, at least in terms of confidence, to enter my first 100M.
ETA: Kettle Moraine was also already on my list. I'd forgotten entirely about 3 Days at the Fair and haven't gotten around to checking on the Indiana Trail 100 yet.
Cajun Coyote is a great low key event that is great fun. It is a 20 mile loop like Rocky Raccoon. They also have a 100K option and a 20 mile option. Cajun is the first weekend of December. Rocky is the first weekend of February, I think. I recommend either for a first or last 100 miler. Both are great races.
However, I have been thinking about a couple of things concerning completion rates. When I look back at completion rates of "easy" 100 milers, I don't see much difference between the completion rates of those and the completion rates of "hard" 100 milers. In fact, in most cases, I see lower completion rates in the "easy" ones. I think many factors go into this. For instance, Rocky Raccoon is considered, by many, a relatively "easy" 100 miler. However, the completion rate for Rocky is often less than 60%. I generally find that the loop courses are labeled as "easy". Also, I read somewhere that Hardrock (arguably the hardest 100 in the US) had a 76% completion rate in 2013. The standards used to allow people into the lottery for the race are quite high, which probably ensures that the majority of folks are very experienced in that environment. Still, 76% is a high completion rate for any 100 miler, especially one of that magnitude/altitude.
The only reason I think a loop course is "easier" is because you really only have to worry about one cutoff, the one for the last loop to start. With a point to point race, you are running over ground you haven't covered unless you are already familiar with the course. And, the cutoffs are often labeled at each aid station. As such, there is a sense of urgency that can be an additional mental burden on the runner throughout the entire race: "I have to make it to the Goat Snatch aid station by XX:XX or I will get pulled..." Most of my experience is with loop courses. I got a DNF on my first attempt at a 100 mile point to point. I had some issues earlier than expected, and then, I let my mind take me to some very bad places; panic set in. And I was done before I reached 40 miles that day. As such, I have sought out more point to point running routes to help me get more accustomed to running that type of race for when I go back this year. When I ran Rocky and Cajun, I was mentally and physically prepared because I trained for running in big loops over the same ground. Ultimately, 100 miles is 100 miles whether you are zig-zagging, out and backing, point to pointing, or loopy looping it. I do believe that you need to understand as much as you can about the course and terrain, and train your brain as well as your body accordingly.
One more comment on the timeline, don't forget that many races sell out very quickly, often within days after registration opens. So it might make sense to have more than one race on your radar, and keep an eye on those registration opening dates.
Already planning on that. The trigger that prompted this, besides lace_up's thread, was a notice from Beyond Limits Racing that a special early bird entry fee for a race next February would be going up from $99 for the 24-hr and 100M after April 14th. I'm not sure, but Umstead and maybe Kettle Morraine may be the only ones on my list that would fill within a very short time.
I believe Umstead fills within like 30 minutes or something crazy. KM you'll have a month or two, but it will sell out eventually.