In a word … Superior!!!
Race Director Chris Rodatz should run a boot camp for aspiring Ultra RDs. He puts on a well organized event that fully captures the spirit of ultramarathoning. Here is the course… We will support you … Go run.
Packet pickup was a breeze. It was held in the lobby of the race hotel which allow for some pre race bonding with some of the other 80 or so sick minded individuals that I was about to spend the next day with. For some reason our discussions centered around running and triathlons. "Didn't I see you at Rocky?" "Are you doing Umstead?" was a common theme. The true sickness of this little band was evident when someone said that they were only running a marathon next week and received heartfelt condolences from the group.
Chris had great news for me. The hard cutoffs were only for the 100 miler. The 100K runners could stay on the course for the full 24 hours if needed. The 100K became doable. As part of his race instruction Chris asked everybody to program his number into their cell phones with the instructions that this was the best way to get help to an injured runner.
The race was held on a 12.5 mile unimproved section of a Rail to Trail path about an hour from the race hotel. There were a few areas that required sharp attention to your footing but overall the course was relatively easy. Aid stations were set about 5.5 miles apart and were stocked with the necessary ultra running needs, water, Gatorade, PBJ sandwiches, coke and mountain dew. In the evening there was hot soup and a hot chocolate that was the greatest pick me up I could ask for at mile 58!
The volunteers were excellent. They went the extra mile to make sure the runners had a good day. Special kudos to Ultramarathoner and Blogger Dan Rose. Dan intended to run the 100 miler but was injured. In the truest exhibition of what makes our sport so special he stepped in and started to work an aid station. Dan served me water and Gatorade a few times with words of encouragement and reminders to keep up my electrolytes. Words of a master to a receptive student. I was also very impressed by the Striders that manned the last aid station on the 100K course. Being experience runners they did a good job in getting you fueled and fed while making idle chit chat in effort to assess your overall condition.
In true snail fashion, I was one of the slower runners on the course, finishing in 16:40+. The finish line crew treated me like a champion. I received a hearty applause and the congratulation of the RD as he handed me one of the best looking belt buckles I have ever seen. All in all it was a very good day. I will be back next year.