My 50k is next weekend and they are up to 170 runners. My question is this . . . how do you know where to line up? The 1st 4 miles are basically narrow trails -- you can pass but not easy in many places. If I am going to be on the slow side do I wait? But then I can get stuck behind 100+ people and lose even more time?
Ah.... the old conga line question...
My best answer is to guess - based on your knowledge of your abilities and the overall course.
Keeping in mind that I know absolutely nothing about anything...
If you think you are on the slow slide, then wait. Enjoy your time in the line... it will give you a chance to warm up and make new ultra friends; besides, it will break up soon enough that you'll be off on your own (perhaps wishing for companionship).
It's an ultra... unless you're a medal contender, you won't really be "losing" time by going out easy - plenty of time to make it up.
MTA - the pack will sort itself out regardless. The line will break into shorter lines. People will find ways to pass as needed. At the first aid station, things will further sort themselves.
I've yet to finish a trail ultra feeling that I could have done better if I hadn't gotten "stuck." But, I have finished feeling that I would have been better off without that initial rush to beat the pack out of the gate.
pace sera, sera
I'm pretty good at "don't go out too fast!" in road marathons.
I used to be terrible at it in trail races. You get caught in the slow end of the conga line early on... let it be. It'll sort itself out in awhile. Pass with care. You get caught on the fast end of the conga line and try to stay up? Recipe for a long, hard day.
I wouldn't line up in the very very back... but I wouldn't sweat any time lost in the first 4 miles of a 31 mile race. You'll be passing people later.
Thanks for the responses -- that was what I was thinking. I'll try to place myself about 3/4 of the way back. And I definitely do not want to go out too fast.
Start slow and finish strong. It really feels good to start passing people at 26 miles.
Run until the trail runs out.
The pain that hurts the worse is the imagined pain. One of the most difficult arts of racing is learning to ignore the imagined pain and just live with the present pain (which is always bearable.) - Jeff