Ultra Runners

1

JFK or Tussey Mountainback - anyone have experience (Read 53 times)

    I posted this topic over in the general discussion looking for some suggestions for a fall 50 miler.  It was suggested that I posted over here and so here I am.

     

    I think I have my choices narrowed down to the JFK 50, the Tussey Mountainback, or repeating MMTR that I did last year.  I am wondering if anyone has run either of JFK or Tussey and what they thought of them.  JFK seems a bit pricey ($200) and I am not sure how I will love the last 8 miles on road.  Tussey sounds pretty good but I haven't found a lot of info on it.  MMTR was incredible and I would do it again in a second but I wouldn't mind trying something new too.

     

    If someone has another suggestion I would love to hear it, I'm looking for 50 mile races within about 6 hours of the Philly area.  (Unfortunately, Virgil Crest and Can Lakes 50 are both out because I have a Ragnar Relay that is too close to both races.

     

    Thanks for any feed back anyone has!

    Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

    FTYC


    Faster Than Your Couch!

      I ran the Tussey Mountainback last year, and I also run quite a bit on the C&O Canal Towpath and the trails in Maryland, so I think I can compare those two courses.

       

      The Tussey Mountainback is run on gravel/dirt and a few paved roads, but it has a nice "trail" feel to it because the course is very scenic and remote in the Central PA mountains. It has a lot of long, grinding ups and downs. The course has been changed from previous years, in order to eliminate a short (0.4 or so miles) stretch along the US-322 highway. I have run both courses (the old Mountainback course completely, and the new section of the course), and they are about the same challenging in terms of elevation gain. The route is scenic and fast, and easy to run even in bad weather. It is never boring because you run over several mountain ridges and valleys. Aid stations are great and nicely spaced (every 3-6 miles), food is plenty and good, volunteers are quick and helpful. I really enjoyed that race.

       

      Great parking, easy to find, good selection of accomodation on all levels for out-of-towners.

       

      The Mountainback has about 5,000 ft elevation gain, quite evenly spaced throughout the course. Some uphills are considered steep for road running, but considered very mild for trail running, maybe 8%. Most are in the 4-6% range. Downhills are pretty gentle, but long.

      The course description on the website is quite accurate, and the map includes the new section (and the sections that were dropped).

       

      What makes the Mountainback stick out from most other ultras is that the relay team vehicles drive along the course, too, so there is a significant amount of traffic on the course at times. However, the ultra runners start earlier than the relay teams, so the first 10 miles, there's almost no traffic, and later on, it spreads out - it never seemed crowded to me, but for some runners, it might be annoying.

       

      The JFK has only a short, fairly easy trail section, the rest (more than half of the length of the course) is run on the C&O Canal Towpath. While this is a very easy, extremely flat trail (similar surface to the "gravel roads" of the Mountainback), it has its own challenges with the long views ahead, "never changing" scenery (I think it changes somewhat along the river, but many runners find it monotonous), and the flatness without any elevation changes. The constant pounding along can be tough on the feet. I have not run the race, so I can't comment on its aid stations, support, or general organization. You won't encounter much traffic on the JFK course, just some road crossings.

       

      If you are looking more into running hills, the Mountainback is  a great choice, whereas if you prefer a flat course, the JFK will probably suit you better. The surface is unforgiving on both courses, so that is not a major criteria, except that the hills of the Mountainback make for some welcome changes in how your feet strike the ground. If you have good shoes, however, even this might not be that important. If your budget is limited, the Mountainback is more reasonably priced, but you'd always have to consider the whole travel package, not just the fee for the race.

      Run for fun.

        That is a fantastic rundown of the two, and exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for.  Thank you so much for taking the time to write that all out!

        Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.


        Occasional Runner

          I've attached race reports for each event. There are no similarities between them, only contrast. If I ad to choose a race to go back to, it would definitely be Tussey. But if you like crowded races and mindless running on a tow path, JFK might be the race for you.

           

          http://www.slippingslowlyintopain.blogspot.com/2012/11/2102-jfk-50-race-report.html

           

          http://www.slippingslowlyintopain.blogspot.com/2011/10/tussey-50-mileran-uphill-battle.html

          9/13- Mid Mountain Marathon

          9/26- Bear 100

          10/18- White Rim Trail FKT

          11/1- Javelina Jundred

          12/6- Cajun Coyote 100

            You might also consider the Vermont 50. It's about 6 hours from Philly, so definitely on the far side. Starts and ends at Mount Ascutney.

             

            http://www.vermont50.com/

             

            I haven't run it  and I can't find anyone on this forum who has, but I've read other reviews and they are positive. It's got about 8,000 ft elevation gain.


            Le professeur de trail

              If I had to choose between Tussey and JFK - it's Tussey no contest.  For my first 50 I had my JFK as my "dream" 50 but could not get in.  Looking back I am glad I did not.  I ran Stone Mill instead.  I had a better time.  The expense of JFK to me is a huge turn off.  I don't understand that they jacked the price up significantly 2-3 years ago (I think it went from $135 to $200 in one year although I could be off on the actual numbers).

              From other's RRs, it appears Tussey has a nice feel to it.


              Occasional Runner

                I should also add this...if you can't qualify as an "A" Standard for JFK, you probably won't get in. This is all based on speed, so the fastest runner's get into that standard and get to enter the race first. If there are any spots left, they move on, but it won't be likely. The race essentially filled in 2012 on the "A" Standard. There are exceptions for active military and a few other loopholes, but it's something to be aware of.

                9/13- Mid Mountain Marathon

                9/26- Bear 100

                10/18- White Rim Trail FKT

                11/1- Javelina Jundred

                12/6- Cajun Coyote 100


                Imminent Catastrophe

                  I should also add this...if you can't qualify as an "A" Standard for JFK, you probably won't get in. This is all based on speed, so the fastest runner's get into that standard and get to enter the race first. If there are any spots left, they move on, but it won't be likely. The race essentially filled in 2012 on the "A" Standard. There are exceptions for active military and a few other loopholes, but it's something to be aware of.

                   

                  Yes, and I'm pretty sure they've made the A standard faster this year.

                  "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

                   "To obtain the air that angels breathe you must come to Tahoe"--Mark Twain

                  "The most common question from potential entrants is 'I do not know if I can do this' to which I usually answer, 'that's the whole point'.--Paul Charteris, Tarawera Ultramarathon RD.

                   

                  √ Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 20/21 July 2013

                  Boston Marathon 21 April 2014

                  Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 19/20 July 2014

                    I should also add this...if you can't qualify as an "A" Standard for JFK, you probably won't get in. This is all based on speed, so the fastest runner's get into that standard and get to enter the race first. If there are any spots left, they move on, but it won't be likely. The race essentially filled in 2012 on the "A" Standard. There are exceptions for active military and a few other loopholes, but it's something to be aware of.

                     

                    The A standard is a 3:30 marathon this year (not sure what it was previously) but I would meet it.  Your race reports (which were great, thanks for sharing) and everyone else's comments did a good enough job of convincing me.  I'm 99% percent certain I will go Tussey.

                     

                    My only hold up had been that I had looked at the results and only seen 109 finishers.  Not realizing the results I was looking at didn't include the relay people, I was worried it might get lonely on the course.  MMTR had just shy of 400 people and there were still long stretches where I didn't see too many people.  After I found the results that include the relay people as well and have more like 275 finishers I am less worried about it.  I would still prefer to not have traffic on the course but you can't have everything I guess.  After all the feedback Tussey just seems like a better experience....and $110 cheaper than JFK too.

                     

                    Thanks again for all the help, you all are a good bunch!

                    Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.


                    Le professeur de trail

                       

                      The A standard is a 3:30 marathon this year (not sure what it was previously) but I would meet it. 

                       

                      Wow! It was a sub 4 hour marathon just two years ago when they started this entry process.  I had hope then but with a 3:30 status - no way! Oh but wait...I couldn't care less anymore.  I hope to be running a 50 miler in MD on the same day as JFK - just not that course!

                         

                        Wow! It was a sub 4 hour marathon just two years ago when they started this entry process.  I had hope then but with a 3:30 status - no way! Oh but wait...I couldn't care less anymore.  I hope to be running a 50 miler in MD on the same day as JFK - just not that course!

                         

                        What other 50 miler is in MD the same day as JFk?  One of the things that JFK had going for it was the date, I would rather have my race be later fall.

                        Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.


                        Le professeur de trail

                           

                          What other 50 miler is in MD the same day as JFk?  One of the things that JFK had going for it was the date, I would rather have my race be later fall.

                           

                          Stone Mill 50 but it's a bit of a secret so don't tell too many people.


                          Imminent Catastrophe

                             

                            Stone Mill 50 but it's a bit of a secret so don't tell too many people.

                             

                            And the real trouble is, that's Monkey Weekend.

                            "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

                             "To obtain the air that angels breathe you must come to Tahoe"--Mark Twain

                            "The most common question from potential entrants is 'I do not know if I can do this' to which I usually answer, 'that's the whole point'.--Paul Charteris, Tarawera Ultramarathon RD.

                             

                            √ Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 20/21 July 2013

                            Boston Marathon 21 April 2014

                            Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 19/20 July 2014


                            A Sweetheart

                               

                              And the real trouble is, that's Monkey Weekend.

                              Sounds like a great reason to do Stone Mill. Wink

                              I want to do it because I want to do it.  -Amelia Earhart

                                 

                                Stone Mill 50 but it's a bit of a secret so don't tell too many people.

                                 

                                Secret's out (except I knew about it already...) I think I might end up doing Stone Mill instead of Vermont or Tussey. I am too busy travelling this summer to train properly for a Sept 29 race. November 16 sounds way more appealing right now.

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