Monday, March 3, 2014

Help me pick a race

After Arrowhead I have a little bit of a "now what?" feeling. My spring and early summer are set:  the Cruel Jewel 55 mile in mid May, the Bob Graham round on June 6, and the Peaks of the Balkans trail in mid June.
But after's wide open.  I have lots of possible plans and can't seem to definitively settle on anything.  Some of the races I'd like to do will fill up in the near future or have short entry windows coming up, so I need to make a choice.  Help me decide!  Any input on any of these races would be helpful.  Depending on the dates, I might be able to do more than one of them.  I'm also interested in doing a road marathon, so there's always the option to combine a road marathon (or a half) with training for one of the ultras.

The options:

  • Telluride Mountain Run.  August 9, 38 miles, Colorado.  Hard and scenic.  Pros:  I have friends doing it.  Cons:  it's at altitude.

  • Run the Rut.  September 13, 50k, Montana.  The course looks amazing--one of the only technical mountain runs in the US.  Pros:  I've never been to Montana, and I love the look of the course.  This one would for sure be at the top of the list if it weren't for the altitude.  Cons:  at altitude.  Weird hunting theme going on.  Could be expensive to get to Montana.

  • Le Grizz.  October 11, 50 miles, Montana.  Fast but scenic 50 mile course.  Could be good for trying a fast 50.  Pros:  another option to run in Montana.  Cons:  maybe not the most interesting course.  Also, grizzly bears??!

  • Ultra Trail Serra de Montsant.  October 18, 100k, Catalunya.  I was registered for this race last year but it ended up being too close after Sawtooth so I didn't do it.  Pros:  the course includes my very favorite running trails in the whole world, and it starts from the village I've stayed in so often for climbing (just out the front door of our rental apartment!).  Cons:  expensive plane ticket.  Right in the middle of the autumn so it could make it hard to do another race in combination with this one.

  • Door County Fall 50.  October 25, 50 miles, Wisconsin.  Road race.  Pros:  I'd like to see what kind of time I'd currently get in a long road race.  Cons:  it's a long road race!

  • JFK 50.  November 22, 50 miles, Maryland.  Pros:  it's a classic and really competitive.  Late enough in the season that I might have time to do a road marathon in late September and then train for this.  Cons:  it sounds like it gets a little crowded on the Appalachian Trail section, and I can't stand crowded trails.

  • North Face 50.  December 6, 50 miles, California.  Basically the same pros and cons as for JFK.

So that's the list...any and all thoughts appreciated, including suggestions for anything not on the list that should be!  


  1. Le Grizz sounds like a winner to me. JFK and TNF would be too crowded. If that Rut race is one of those poles-and-Salomon-shoes type technical races, I dunno. You would probably do pretty well, though.

    The Spanish race sounds hot (especially after a long hot summer in Georgia).

    The Door County one sounds miserable.

    Can't you petition to get into UROC? I think that's September 9th. It would be competitive without being crowded. North Country Trail Run 50 miles in Michigan (I think in September) is one I would love to come back and try.

    1. I think the Rut managed to receive an exemption to the poles-and-salomon requirement by virtue of being held in the US. It's possible that your shoes are still required to match your compression shorts, though.

      Didn't Tracy do Door County? Or was that the North Country she did? I think I confuse those two sometimes. Is the North Country a fast course?

      UROC was originally on my list but I took it off because the course didn't sound particularly good. Isn't it some weird combination of mountains and flat roads? I don't know... though it would be fun to run in the same race as Tracy. Are you coming out to crew/watch? What are you going to run in the fall? I guess maybe it depends on where you're living...

    2. Door County is all on roads (I think Zach Bitter set an AR for 50 miles there). North country is in Michigan and is a hilly, non-technical trail race. I think it's mostly on ski trails or maybe mountain bike trails.

      Racing plans for the Hoegs depend on Match Day.

  2. Oh. That was Rasmus, not Tracy, above.

  3. I think the one in Telluride sounds awesome!

    Another thing to consider with TNF50 is that the weather is almost always crapping on that race. December in coastal California is often very wet and windy and the course is mostly on exposed ridges. That said, if the weather is nice, it is absolutely breathtaking.

    The one in Catalunya sounds awesome too though, maybe you could make a Dec-Jan road marathon work to get to do both?

    1. I'm noting the vote for Telluride!

      Good point about TNF. I would not be too excited to run through mud and fog the whole time.

      Also a good point about a winter road marathon. I still haven't gotten used to the idea that my winters will not necessarily be taken up by Arrowhead anymore! And there should be no shortage of flat marathons around here that would be a perfect temperature in the winter.

    2. Oh and I was going to ask you--I put this on Facebook and Olga made a good suggestion of the Siskiyou Out and Back. Am I right in remembering that you did that one? How was it? It was on my list for a few years and I never got around to it, so that would be a good option.

    3. I did Sikiyou Out Back two years ago. The 50k. I remember it has one really really long gradual uphill but mostly the trail is not technical. But it's at altitude, did you know that? Between 4,000-7,000 feet, I think. Of course that's only half as high as TMR. : )

    4. Yes, I also ran the 50K two years ago. It was beautiful. The course is mostly on the PCT and not technical at all. I live at zero feet and the altitude wasn't much of a problem for me until that long gradual uphill from mi 20-25 or something. It's a popular run so you'd definitely have some competition with the semi-pro Oregon runners. There's also a 50 mile option that runs into California and back. It's July 26th and I'm actually considering running it again myself. Here's my race report:

  4. Are Tuscobia Winter Ultra and Arrowhead not on the list because they are automatics??
    My other votes:
    Telluride - friends are good.
    Run the Rut - Course and description looks awesome. A long way to go for a 50k though? Although it would probably take as long as a fast 50 mile.....

    1. will be sad but I think I'll give Arrowhead a miss next year. If I do a sled race I want to do a new one--Rovaniemi or Susitna, probably. But I think I'd rather take the winter to do some normal running.

      Deirdre had a good point that if I do TNF I can come visit you guys. I like the sound of that.

  5. I agree w/wheres chris, friends are good!! T-Ride Pro-Vides!!! Best Of Luck On Whatever You Choose!!

    1. Thank you! I sent off my JFK application on Tuesday. Fingers crossed...

  6. the rut is the ticket. MT is amazing in Sept!!